Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I like Anna Netrebko very much. She is one of the blessed ones who receive their own spot on 60 Minutes, where she appeared walking through the Haight in torn $1200 jeans.

I first heard her in the role of Lyudmila in Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila where she made a huge impression on all my friends. She has a large voice with flexibility, trained in the dark Russian style. I like her not only for what she is but for what she aspires to be—an Italian opera singer. She assumes, correctly, that she cannot become the great star she wishes to be without transcending Russian repertoire.

Her Puccini is coming along very nicely, and she is acquiring more and more Italian phrasing. Recently I saw her in La Bohème where in the role of Musetta she burned up the stage, with small bursts of flame flying up wherever she stepped. She is cultivating her star quality.

Of course, my idea of proper Italian phrasing comes from the great Italians Jussi Bjoerling, Maria Callas and Kiri Te Kanawa. Why not a Russian Italian? "Room with a View" was recently released on DVD, including the two godlike performances of Italian arias by Kiri. Be sure to catch this.

I suggest to Anna that she focus on acquiring perfection in Italian repertoire and not try to conquer everything at the same time. I saw her in a recital where she displayed a completely clueless performance of some Strauss songs. Someone should have realized that she does not get these and prevented it.

This recital ended with a group by Rachmaninov. I am ok with the idea that she should avoid Russian opera for the sake of her larger career, but for the benefit of all of us she will please, never feel the need to rise above Russian song. Only the Russians have any idea how to properly perform these. What hope is there that the rest of us will achieve the truly Russian? Her performance was definitive.

It is important to aspire to greatness to have any hope of achieving it. I wish her the best.

No comments: