Sunday, August 18, 2013

Anna Netrebko Interview

This is my usual translation of an interview here.  Jump over to the article to see the pictures.

Anna Netrebko: "I always listen to my voice" The Star soprano about Lady Macbeth, her change of voice category, her plans and her small, big luck. She need not sing, and would still be one of the absolute stars of the Salzburg Festival 2013: Anna Netrebko. There is hardly an opera premiere on the river Salzach in which the Russian soprano with Austrian citizenship is not in the center - if only as an interested listener. If she also sings, already general rapture is announced. That was so at three concert performances of Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco", after which Netrebko was celebrated alongside opera legend Plácido Domingo. And it will probably be like that even today, Sunday, with Britten's "War Requiem". In KURIER interview the diva speaks without airs on professional and personal happiness as well as new challenges.

KURIER: With the concert performance of Verdi's "Giovanna d'Arco" you celebrated an incredible success. Why was the opera not staged? 

Anna Netrebko: "Giovanna d'Arco" is musically magnificent, and the role very much suits my voice. But the story - well. A woman suddenly hears some kind of voices, goes to war and becomes a martyr, even a saint. That's total nonsense! You do not need to stage everything.

Your new CD is titled "Verdi". You are heard as Giovanna, as Elisabetta in "Don Carlo," as Lady Macbeth, as "Troubadour"--Leonora and as Elena in the "Sicilian Vespers". The foretaste of a change of Fach? [A singer's voice classification is called "Fach" in both German and English.] 

Above all, this album will be a tribute to one of the greatest composers of all time, suitable for Verdi's 200th Birthday. But it's true: My voice has changed radically lately. It has become darker, fuller, more dramatic - I encounter this in Verdi. I want to conquer this Fach. Now is the perfect time for it. Therefore, I will also make my debut as Lady Macbeth in Munich in 2014. But that is staged, because I can live her myself, I can identify with that role myself.

You can identify with the Lady Macbeth? 

But of course! This is a very strong woman who knows what she wants. That they go for their goals over dead bodies is not okay. But she suffers the consequences - even to madness. I like on the opera stage as in real life exciting characters. Just as Leonora in "Il Trovatore", that I will sing for the first time. Other Verdi roles do not interest me, even if I could sing them.

Which for example? 

A Desdemona like in "Otello" I definitely do not want to play. What kind of a stupid woman is she? If I have such a jealous macho man as Otello at my side, I separate myself from him immediately. And that's that. I live as Desdemona, and he should do what he wants. This of course does not alter the fact that both the Shakespearean drama and Boito's libretto and Verdi's music are fantastic. But that's not the type of woman that I want to represent on the stage. The same is true for the Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Shostakovich. I would never be stupid enough to go into the water for a man!

In 2016 you are scheduled as Elsa in a new production of Wagner's "Lohengrin" with conductor Christian Thielemann ... 

Oh yes, this is an adventure. This woman is asking for a bit much, but in spite of this I like her. No, seriously, I've already begun to concern myself with the "Lohengrin". Only it's not really easy. This Wagner-language one must first learn and then remember. Wagner doesn't make it easy for the singers. But Elsa comes at the right time. As well as Puccini's "Manon Lescaut". For that I have given up a couple of bel canto and a few Mozart roles. Even the Countess in "Le Nozze" I will not include in my repertoire when it doesn't work vocally. And I always listen to my voice. [Wonderful.]

In Salzburg you have a surprise for the audience with Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem"... 

Yes, a gorgeous, touching work. I am pleased to make it with Antonio Pappano, Orchestra of Santa Cecilia and colleagues like Thomas Hampson or Ian Bostridge. After all, in 2013 we celebrate not only Verdi and Wagner, but also Britten's 100th birthday. This is such an important performance. Also, I love Britten. This music is something serious and gets under your skin. In this Fach I would like to get a taste of a lot more, but I do professionally already so many crazy things.

What, for example?

Daniel Barenboim has talked me into a very wild project. I will release the "Four Last Songs" by Richard Strauss on CD. An incredible undertaking. I and Strauss! But Daniel said: "Anna, that is exactly right for you, you can do it," If Daniel wants something and he will propose a project to me, I can only agree. I trust him absolutely. But it is hard work. Since it is less about the language itself, rather than the idiom, the emphasis of individual words or syllables. I study Strauss intensively and hope that I can also meet him eventually.

Maybe one day even on the opera stage? 

Why not? But for that I must be quite sure that this is the right role in the right constellation and the absolute right time for me. The music industry has become so fast that you often barely keep up. I have to sign contracts for years in the future and don't even have a clue how my voice will sound, if it is still right for that role or any role.

A hard job... 

Yes, not only for me, for us all. How to give our best every day, because people simply expect this when they buy tickets. And they are quite right. On the other hand it holds great dangers. Vocally one should not be too quick to drive into any adventure. This can backfire. In addition to all this, you need a balance, a family, friends.

You are romantically involved with the famous bass-baritone Erwin Schrott, who with one son Tiago, your private life is constantly exposed to the public. Each of your steps is interpreted in one direction or another. How do you deal with it? 

This is unfortunately so. Work is just work, but private life is private life. I create my free time. I'm very happy with Tiago in Vienna in the Zoo. He loves this, we look at the animals for hours, and no one recognizes us. Because we are there just mother and son. This is for me a small, very big happiness. But with this also come responsibilities, like various kinds of housework. I learn a lot from Tiago. I enjoy that, because I am not Anna Netrebko, but a mother with everyday worries and troubles.

You have made Vienna the center of your life. 

The best decision! At the Vienna State Opera, where next season I again sing Marguerite in Gounod's "Faust", I'm home. Vienna is pure music. The daily interaction is incredible. And Vienna is a city where I can breathe, where I can just be me - Anna Netrebko.

Peter Jarolin

[Dr.B.  I find that I cannot help commenting on this interview.  If you don't care what I think, you should just not read it.  This is an artist who receives all the best advice and who views her career with great intelligence.  She reassures me about her plunge into the very dangerous role of Lady Macbeth by telling me that she always listens to her voice.  No more can be asked.  I also love that she calls her project to sing the Strauss "Four Last Songs" "crazy".  I would have thought so, too.  Surely I've already declared myself on this subject.  Strauss is a special style that only a few singers truly conquer.  But how could I possibly argue with Daniel Barenboim?  He will make sure it is what it needs to be.  I can think of nothing that would make me happier than to eat my words.  Anna is a very special lady.]

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