This interview is translated from the current month of Opernglas on line. I hope I got it right. It's hard to translate because obviously it was first translated into German.
Anna Netrebko, after the birth of her son, will already return to the stage at the beginning of the year. She spoke with Dr. Stefan Mauss about her plans and publicity – and about secret role desires. Selections from the interview:
Ms Netrebko, have you observed that during your pregnancy your voice has changed?
Not changed, but in the fourth month in the meantime I feared to lose it. I needed a lot more time to recover between two performances. This turned out to be due to a pregnancy caused lack of iron. Small cause, large effect.
What have you planned musically after the birth of your child?
I want in January to return to the Met stage as Lucia. Before that I want to try the part out in St. Petersburg.
What parts will you make thereafter?
Everything that comes in the near future was already planned before my pregnancy. There will be some bel canto roles, naturally a few performances of La Traviata, but also Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Mozarts Elettra in Idomeneo will come. A further dream which hopefully will be realized in some year is Anna Bolena. The Iolanta in Baden-Baden—also with Rolando Villazon there—should be noted, together with Aleko by Rachmaninov.
Your new CD Souvenirs contains small precious items in 10 languages. The selection is unusual: by Lieder by Richard Strauss, operetta selections by Kálmán and Heuberger, we find also plce for Andrew Lloyd Webbers “Pie Jesu”, a Yiddish lullaby, Offenbach’s “Barcarole” and Charpentier’s Louise. What was your intention with this selection?
Originally I suggested a CD with small but brilliant additions. When we thought about it further, more and more pieces came till the whole thing threatened to go out of control. What came out is something like a bright colored mixed bouquet. The flowers all smell differently, feel individual; some come from the garden, some from the woods, but each is of its kind completely individual. I think each listener will have completely different thoughts and feelings bound up with each piece. It is in part very emotional music.
You live in Austria and sing pieces in German on your new CD. Are you not challenged in the future to try some German Lieder or opera roles?
It is my dream someday to be allowed to sing Elsa from Lohengrin, but it may be a while before my voice is ready. I also love Parsifal, my first Wagner opera. So far a flower girl was my only Wagner role, by the way with Nadja Michael as “Mitblume”. In addition, Richard Strauss is one of my favorite composers. Hardly anyone understood how to write so perfectly for a Soprano voice as he. Take only his “Cradle song”: I took up it in a rush, it flowed immediately from my voice. Don’t laugh, but I’ve always wanted to sing Berg’s Lulu. Daniel Barenboim and Willy Decker, two important people in my life, always encourage me in this. My manager however constantly advises against it, because he is afraid I could lose my voice. I am still undecided. In any case the role lies very high, and there would be a lot of German text for me to learn. But it is a marvelous role, and I would enthusiastically like to work on it, it is really one of my dreams!
Do you mean that in the future you would be able to combine coloratura roles with somewhat heavier soprano roles?
This is exactly what I would like to try. I don’t want to stay in the coloratura Fach, but would like to swim around between this and various other soprano Fachs. If I sing too many coloratura roles, I have the feeling that the voice becomes too narrow, and I thirst for something like Puccini to even it out.
A child is an important point not only in the career, but also in life altogether. Do you think that you can reduce your appearances, despite the gigantic demand and the world-wide “Netrebko Hype.” so far that the child will not come up short?
“Netrebko Hype” is a funny way to put it and probably a little exaggerated! But you’re also right: it’s crazy what has happened with me and happened. I would like in any case to take shorter steps, and to reduce the number of appearances. I assume the theaters affected will understand, if I sing only five or six performances instead of eight or nine from a production in order to have more time for my family. I would not like to be before the public and behind the stage more than for my own child, whom I then leave with the nanny. That would be a terrible idea! Our child should simply be a normal child.
If one talks with your colleagues about the phenomenon Anna Netrebko, one gets almost in unison the answer, “We admire boundlessly what she does for us and for opera, but we would never like to change places with her!” Have you ever once dreamed to be a completely normal opera singer, and become not at the same time by your degree of fame quasi a public property?
I have never dreamed that my career could develop in such a way as it now has. Naturally I wanted to be on the stage and that as successfully as possible, but I never had above average ambitions. Each opera singer dreams to sing at the Milan La Scala or the New York Met. And if it happens, it is an unforgettable experience. But everything that came after, what you so beautifully called Hype, I could not have imagined. I argue also with it, and do what I must do, because this success permits me the luxury to be able to select productions which I would like to make, with the best conductors and singers, that is naturally a marvelous thing. Exactly the same as the possibility of being able to collect so much money for my child aid projects in Austria.
You see more positive than negative aspects in such a career?
That is very hard to say. But believe me: it is really hard. Everyone could not stand it. One needs a cool head and both feet need to stay on the ground. People demand and really expect a gigantic amount of one. I particularly suffer that practically my whole energy is pulled from me until nothing more remains, expecially in these big parties. I really don’t like that very much, because it costs endlessly more strength. I know that it also is required, but it isn’t really my world.