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A Verdian soprano in a class of her own.
on 20 August 2013
There aren't too many sopranos adept in Verdi these days, especially when you think of the past 2 decades, when even the MET could not secure a prima donna of this genre in Angela Gheorghiu and Karita Mattila.
From Russia, Anna Netrebko stormed the western operatic scene with high hopes of a lirico spinto soprano in the making with her early triumph as Violetta Valery in Russia. Anna kept the houses waiting for 1 more decade.
The waiting can be said to be worthwhile, as this summer, when Netrebko issues her first studio recording in 5 years to commemorate the anniversary of Giuseppe Verdi. This album includes works from Macbeth, I Vespre di Siliciani, Il Trovatore, Giovanna D'Arco and Don Carlo. Giovanna D'Arco, Macbeth and I Vespre are relatively less performed on stage these days. Netrebko's assumption of these relative rarities are highly welcome indeed.
The switching from a coloratura soprano to Verdi especially as Lady Macbeth, a considered mezzo-soprano role, require preparation as well as guts. Netrebko does not disappoint, for though she can never be considered as the same type as Maria Callas in terms of fach, as a lirico-cum-spinto type of lyrical soprano, the timbre has sufficient range to accommodate the vocal demands of these roles. Throughout this album, Netrebko is able to command a consistent tonal production for the different scenes and arias, with varied timbre: no bulging notes, no abrupt change in registers, no shrillness that easily associates with these pieces. In short, she handles the vocal demands with real competence, and with perhaps a little tightness in the most demanding piece from 'Il Vespre', it could even be said that she tackled her problem with considerable musical aplomb.
As for characterisation, she may not be totally successful in differentiating Lady Macbeth from Leonora, or Elisabetta, et. al. But this may only be a marginal problem, for the scenes, if put in context, would fit the plot as glove to hand on stage, aided by efficient acting. If you ask for the `verismo type' of dramatic interpretation for these Verdi pieces, however, look elsewhere.
It needs reminding that, with Anna's recent release, that the operatic world has not had a full Verdian soprano album for some years, since the last issue by Sondra Radvanovsky, more a dramatic soprano than a Verdian spinto.
This is a musically lovely album, and will surely please aficionados greatly, if not all connosieurs.