In the November issue of Opera News Oussama Zahr interviews Anna Netrebko and mentions hearing Mirella Freni in her voice:
Netrebko's eyes light up. "Mirella. Thank you. I always heard this, since I started studying. And you know what, listening to her helps me a lot, because I think her technique is amazing for what she's doing.
"She always sang," says Netrebko of the Italian soprano. And, here, Netrebko reveals her partiality for singers with flowing, generous voices, unlike a different breed of singer she sees today, marked by lots of covered tone without forward placement in order to manipulate dynamics easily. "This dynamic control, usually, it's not going from the breath. Beautiful for the audience, dangerous for the singer," she explains. "I will not tell you the name of the singer," she explains. "I will not tell you the name of the singer--very good soprano, beautiful voice, one of the most beautiful--and I attend a couple of her performances in different roles. And I was like, why the fuck are you singing half mezza voce? Who needs that? Open your mouth, give me your voice--on the breath, supported, pointed, and that's it. But lots of people think this is the musicality. I think it's bullshit. You can show a couple of the notes, okay, you have piano, thank you. After that, give me singing, give me the voice."
Part of the blame for this kind of singing, Netrebko thinks, belongs to coaches and conductors. "Lots of coaches, and God forgive me, conductors, they are the worst. The worst. And actually one of the best conductors are working very bad to the singer. 'Cause they're sitting at the piano and saying, 'Do this phrase, shhh, shhh, no, no, no! Even softer, even softer!' And after that he is going to the orchestra like bwaah,"--and she makes the sound of a deafening brass section--they show you how it has to be soft."