The `Russian Album', released in 2006, is Anna Netrebko's debut solo recording with long friend, teacher and conductor of the Orchestra of the Mariinsky theatre, Valery Gergiev. It's also her solo debut album with the Deutsche Grammophon label.
Russian composers of opera have not enjoyed such popularity, in recent years at least, as those by the great Italians such as Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and Rossini. Russian opera emerged during the early 1800's, at a time when the European composers completely dominated the field, and used elements of Russian folklore, traditions and native melodies to produce a distinctive sound.
So it's only natural that a Russian opera singer should feel compelled to celebrate and show off some of those lesser heard arias from her homeland, and Anna Netrebko should feel justifiably pleased with the results. She states (from the sleeve notes):
"Ten years ago  Russian opera was much less known outside Russia, but that is changed now - and it's because Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky are working very hard and doing many wonderful new productions". I believe she should also attribute herself as a reason for that change.
Naturally, this album will not have the familiarity of Italian and German opera arias, but for me that adds interest. The contributions are by Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka and Prokofiev, and Anna Netrebko has adapted her style for the Russian theme with a deeper mezzo soprano sound for many of the songs. I like that change for I think it suits much of this music.
This is a good album of Russian opera which should please those looking for some less mainstream opera. If not, there's always Anna Netrebko's 'Opera' album of familiar favourites to enjoy.