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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 13 August 2013
If this disc is intended to display the new richness and variety in Netrebko's voice then it fails. Unlike another reviewer, I was delighted when I saw the repertoire that is included on the disc since I am a great fan of Verdi's demanding roles for the soprano drammatico d'agilità, represented here by arias from Macbeth, Giovanna d'Arco and I vespri siciliani. Regrettably, I find that Netrebko is 'over-parted' in all of them.

There is nothing new on this disc for Nebtrebko that is welcome: her high notes are sounding forced and the chest register is an unattractive growl. She seems to have lost the ability to float a high legato line and some of the coloratura passages are untidy. Most of this repertoire was done much better thirty or more years ago by Caballé, Deutekom and in the case of Lady Macbeth, Shirley Verrett. The long and beautiful aria from Don Carlo is sung without colour or nobility by Netrebko and comes nowhere near the beauty achieved by Caballé or, in French, by Karita Mattila. And I have a recording of 'D'amor sull'ali rosee' from Il trovatore, made a hundred years ago by Celestina Boninsegna, which is preferable in every respect to Netrebko's version.

It is a mistake made by many singers that they do not know where their strengths lie, and they are driven by ambition or who knows what to tackle a repertoire which is beyond them. That certainly seems to have been the case here. I too am a long-time fan of Netrebko, but I was worried by her performance in the DVD of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, where she is outshone by Garanca. I'm afraid those worries are confirmed by this latest disc.
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on 14 August 2013
Netrebko's timbre is very beautiful, her technique has considerably progressed over the years. But it is not by any means enough to sing Verdi's dramatic roles. Her Lady Macbeth is not very far from sounding like an operetta role: the singer seems to have no understanding of the role's tragic dimension. Her voice is too light and the colour isn't appropriate to sing it. The sound, beautiful as it might be, is quite monotonous, and the phrasing is also very much so: what's the difference between Elena and Elisabetta? I have not made it out from this recording. Arias from "Il Trovatore" seem to sound better. I can't believe this CD is really the result of a five-year work. If it is really so, Netrebko does not have any insight into Verdi dramatic roles, I am afraid.
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on 7 February 2014
When I heard Netrebko in the MET HD Theater broadcasts of "Puritani" and "Romeo et Juliette," I was impressed -- a lovely lyric soprano who, while not a natural coloratura, had enough technique and musicianship to sing these parts very well, and enough histrionic skill to be credible and moving in both. That was half-a-dozen years ago, and now Netrebko has decided that it's time to take on bigger parts. On the evidence of this disc, that's bad mistake: this is a very disappointing recording. At the bottom of her range -- which is frequently deployed in these selections -- the voice is warm and firm, but when she moves up into the real soprano territory, the voice sounds pushed and edgy, and the vibrato at the top is perilously close to a wobble. I don't believe that at any point in this recital she shows the ability to float a high note softly. One sometimes hears that done at the end of the Sleepwalking Scene in "Macbeth," but not here. In fact, that scene, one of Verdi's greatest, is almost perfunctorily dispatched. I'm also not too impressed by the interpretations in general -- these pieces are sung far too straight, with phrase not bound to phrase in a way that creates any musical tension, and there's not much success in "building" an emotional arc to the selections. That might be a matter of unfamiliarity with the roles -- maybe this recital would have been better postponed until she had done more singing in roles like these. Any redeeming features? The "Trovatore" selections through the "Miserere" aren't bad (but they're not great); unfortunately, she adds "Tu vedrai," the cabaletta that requires some florid singing, and she's just not up to it -- it's lumpy and labored, as it was in the "Macbeth" florid writing too.

The recording is a bit close, and that might contribute to the edginess -- but the orchestral work seems routine to me, and in the "Trovatore" prison scene, at the end, when Manrico and Leonora are singing their last lines, the chorus almost disappeared from my headphones, so the engineering seemed less than optimal too. I'm sorry to be so negative: this is a singer whom I've enjoyed in the past and hope to again, but this is a great disappointment.
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on 19 October 2013
I bought this CD's deluxe edition, in order to celebrate the 200th anniversay of Verdi's birth. I was captivated! My favorite tracks were from ''I Vespri Siciliani'', where Netrebko's voice and maestro's conducting were inspiring and atmospheric. Additionally the tracks from ''Giovanna d' Arco'' are sung in such a beautiful way that it hypnotizes you! I would also recommend ''D' amor sull' ali rose'' from ''Il Trovatore'' and ''Tu che la vanita'' from ''Don Carlo''. Now on Netrebko's Lady Macbeth; all the tracks were sung with an awesome velvet tone, except for the sleep-walking scene (which needs an otherwordly sound anyway).Also, don't miss the chance to have a look at the wonderfully designed, colored booklet which comes with the deluxe edition. Finally spend a delightful hour watching the DVD with highlights from Netrebko's ten-year collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon. In conclusion this is a must-have for every Verdi fan. Don't miss it!
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on 13 August 2013
When I first heard this recital, I found it hard to believe that it was actually Netrebko singing. I am saying this, because the voice has indeed grown bigger and at times I had the feeling I was listening to a Caballe-ish sort of sound. This is heavy dramatic repertoire and I hope she knows what she is doing, otherwise she will end up destroying her lyrical instrument, just like Katia Riciarelli did in the -not so distant-past. However, she does not get away with this repertoire, as Katia did at the beginning. Her voice sounds forced and the vibrato is too often uncontrolled. I would not go as far as to say that there is a wobble, but there is definitely a lack of control in her vibrato. She is not always 100% in tune with the orchestra and as a result the whole sound grows tiresome to the ear after some time. I think the only aria that is acceptable for a singer of this status is the "Merce..." from I Vespri (it is not accidental, I think, that it was the only one pre-released). Now, this is a singer who has brought many people closer to the opera house. She has a good-always by today's standards- voice, a very strong stage presence and she is very beautiful. She was very lucky to have partnered with the greatest tenor around (Rollando Villazon)and she was wise to make a good choice of repertoire. She has been overrated, yes, but she was never bad. Here,I am afraid, she is below average. And if she sounds like that in the studio, what will happen in the theater? I remember how everyone praised Gheorgiu's Tosca recording and how she was completely wiped out in real life by Bryn Terfel and, of course, Puccini's score, in 2006. This is a very sudden and unexpected display of bad taste from Anna. I sincerely hope that she understands it.
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on 27 January 2014
As a casual listener to Opera, I thought this was excellent. All the tracks good and beautifully sung. If you want an introduction to Verdi then I'd suggest that this is an excellent place to start
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on 13 November 2013
We expect a lot from the great Netrebko, but listening to this fine recording, it is clear that she has her limits and should not try the heavier repertoire too soon.....or at all. Hubris has destroyed many a voice.
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on 30 December 2013
Anna Netrebko shines and excels on this cd, the sound quality is superb and the choice of tracks is wonderful.
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on 24 February 2015
Like many of us I too am searching for a great contemporary Verdi soprano and whilst these things are to a great extent a matter of personal taste, I'm afraid Anne Netrebko is not a great Verdi soprano. As others have mentioned, the main failings are to do with control - breath control, pitch and vibrato - the latter being quite unpleasant at times. Equally I find her phrasing unfocussed, almost as though at times she doesn't fully understand what she is singing. These problems are simply too great to overlook and it is only fair to point them out to those unfamiliar with Netrebko.
It is still true that, to hear great performances in this repertoire, you have to go back a generation or more. As an interesting analogy, there was another beautiful lyric soprano called Anna who recorded an album of Verdi arias. Her surname was Moffo and the album, a Verdi Collaboration, was recorded more than 50 years ago, when she was in her prime. Sadly, Moffo's voice disintegrated a few years later but her performances on that album are extraordinary. I know none of this will make any difference to the many fans of Netrebko but if you really want to hear GREAT singing of this repertoire (and with great sound quality), try A Verdi Collaboration and see the difference.
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