2013 for me was the year of Anja Harteros. Before that I posted nothing about her. When I went to Munich to see Lohengrin in 2009, I remember the soprano was not Anja. Watching the film of Lohengrin may have been my first experience of her.
She is a German of Greek extraction. My impression of her from the interview I translated of Jonas and her together is that she is possibly funny. Meaning humorous and cheerful. You might possibly believe it of her that she would deliberately play off her long curly-haired resemblance to Cecilia Bartoli at the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, which she won.
She will never be the rock star celebrity that Anna Netrebko is, but her growth into a Verdi singer has been completely organic. Her natural lyric soprano voice expands into dramatic intensity with almost no discernible change in color or production. The voice never disintegrates into distortion which so often happens with Verdi. She never seems to be trying to sound suitable for Verdi--she just is. She opens her throat and out it comes. Your heart does not hesitate to soar with her. I only recall Eileen Farrell who could do this equally well.
The Italians, of course, would not approve. Jonas and Anja are attempting to convince us that Verdi was a German, too. The Italians will not be convinced. They both seem to feel with the music without having any intuitive inclination to scoop. For me if the drama of the phrase carries seamlessly, I simply don't notice. My heart wants only to stay in the phrase to the end.
The roles I have heard are Elsa, Leonora (Trovatore), Leonora (Forza), and Elisabetta, all with Jonas Kaufmann. She's doing Tosca and Simon Boccanegra later this year. It's interesting to me that I accept her more as a Verdi singer than as a Strauss singer. She seems most effective in the large gestures, the sweeping landscapes. I cannot help wondering if she saw what a giant leap this Verdi year would be in her career. If it was planned, it was a master stroke. Congratulations.
I don't get the impression that New York is seeking her out. They are busy promoting Sondra. I feel very pleased to have someone new to feel enthusiastic about.
On to 2014. The search for great new singers never ends.
Semi-Scholarly Summary: Verdi's Macbeth
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