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Anna's Three Big Debuts in 2002
Metropolitan    Salzburg Festival    Covent Garden


New Yorkers acclaim Netrebko at her Metropolitan debut

photo by Sylvia Plachy, The New Yorker, Mar 4, 2002, p. 87Feb 14, 2002--Netrebko makes her Metropolitan Opera debut. The New York Times critic is distracted by an extra falling into the orchestra pit, forgets Netrebko's existence until the 18th paragraph, then gives her two sentences:

"In an impressive debut as Natasha, the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko revealed her clear, ample, cool Nordic voice. Though a lovely young woman, she was not well served by Mr. Konchalovsky's direction, which must be responsible for the silent movie clichés that marred her portrayal."

 Anthony Tommasini's full review


Meanwhile, under the heading "Napoleon, Blown Apart," the New York Post's Shirley Fleming does a better job of keeping her eye on the ball:

"Unquestionably, the star of the evening, in her Metropolitan debut, was soprano Anna Netrebko, an Audrey Hepburn look-alike who delivered an enchanting Natasha in all her freshness, wistfulness, petulance and vulnerability. The voice could soar or drop to a whisper; it was a beautifully rounded portrayal."

Again only two sentences, but that's our girl.

Excerpt from War & Peace, live Met broadcast 3/2/2002
Third tableau: What right have they?

Alex Ross in The New Yorker, March 4, 2002:

"The most important [debut] was Anna Netrebko, a young lyric soprano with a pearly, gleaming tone, who projected her voice effortlessly into the house. She embodied the role of Natasha so sparklingly that it was impossible to imagine anyone else singing it. Her partner in glamour was Dmitri Hvorostovsky, as Andrei; his silver hair and golden baritone have long been admired, but his acting has taken on new gravitas in recent years. As he staggered out of his deathbed to dance a final waltz with Natasha, I doubt that I was the only one on the brink of tears."

Ross's full article:

Howard Kissel, in the New York Daily News on February 16, 2002:

Tolstoy a Joy At the Metropolitan Opera

"The Met has assembled an extraordinary cast, starting with Anna Netrebko, making an astonishing debut as Natasha. Apart from her rich, agile voice, Netrebko has the gift of making her character seem entirely natural, a creature of early-19th-century Moscow rather than the operatic stage."

Martin Bernheimer in the Financial Times:

"Anna Netrebko, making her company debut, is virtually ideal as Natasha Rostova, exquisite in voice, in looks, in poise and expressive impetuosity."

Bernheimer's full review: 

Jay Nordlinger in the National Review on line:

"Outstanding in an excellent cast was Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano singing Natasha. She is an experienced singer, yet you could say that, as far as New York was concerned, a star was born. Hers is a light, high voice, though with a hint of darkness, which is unusual, and effective. That voice is clean and clear, with rock-solid intonation, no matter what the singer is doing onstage: reclining, lying on her stomach, dancing about. Her singing is unforced, natural, with a beautiful, smooth line. She was a young beauty playing a young beauty, which is nice, if you can get it, in opera (though the aural aspect comes before all, of course). Anna Netrebko is the Met's first Natasha, and I doubt that if the company went on to stage this opera for several generations it would get a better one."

Nordlinger's full review:

Profile in March 2002 Opera News by Andrew Farach-Colton

'Anna Netrebko, who steps onstage this February to make her Metropolitan Opera debut as Natasha in War and Peace, is probably one of the few Met debutants who would describe the huge auditorium as "comfortable." The Russian soprano sang in the house during the Kirov Opera's 1998 visit ---- Louisa (Betrothal in a Monastery) and Lyudmila (Ruslan and Lyudmila). "I love the Met. You can always hear your voice coming back. It's one of the best theaters in the world ---- and, of course, an honor to sing there." New York operagoers who have yet to enjoy Netrebko's exquisitely pure sound and blissfully unaffected interpretive style will likely feel the honor is theirs.

'The role of Natasha will be familiar territory, too, as Netrebko has already performed War and Peace with the Kirov at Covent Garden, La Scala and Madrid's Teatro Real. Although the part calls for a slightly heavier voice than her lyric coloratura, she is otherwise ideally suited to play Tolstoy's exuberant, impulsive heroine. "Since I was fourteen or fifteen years old, I am exactly like Natasha. And I love this book ---- it's my favorite. I used to dream about playing Natasha in a movie." In fact, Netrebko was once quite serious about pursuing a career as an actress, although now that holds little interest. "Acting is an entirely different profession. In opera, you don't have to do so much. Everything is there in the music. But a play is just words, and as an actor you have to find the music in the lines for yourself."

'This year will also see Netrebko's Salzburg debut, opening the season as Donna Anna in a new production by Martin Kusej of Don Giovanni conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt. "When I went to the audition, they told me that Harnoncourt had been searching five years for a Donna Anna, and he didn't like anyone. Then I sang two phrases, and he said, 'O.K.' It was a big surprise for me. I'm still surprised, even now." Netrebko is concerned about preserving her vocal health, however, so she tries to balance these heavier roles with lighter fare. Thus, between Natasha and Donna Anna, she will take on Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi at Opera Company of Philadelphia. "But I don't want to sing only the lyrical repertoire. To sing Mimì and Liù all the time ---- it's not for me. I need something more exciting."'

Mark Burstein, long time supernumerary at the San Francisco Opera and contributor to this site, files a report, complete with footnotes, for the SFO supers' newsletter about his visit to New York and the Met Production of War and Peace. Link to Mark's report.



Acclaim for Anna's Salzburg Festival debut 
as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni

first performance: Saturday, July 27, 2002

Anna with Thomas Hampson

The opera was staged with performers alternating 
between underwear and fur coats.

"Eine veritable Sensation: Anna Netrebko als Donna Anna, von zierlicher Figur, mit einem Sopran, der dramatische Kraft und lyrische Geschmeidigkeit in beängstigend vollendete Balance bringt. Ich behaupte: Eine solche Donna Anna hat es Jahre nicht gegeben."  --Karl Harb in Salzburger Nachrichten

("A veritable sensation: Anna Netrebko as Donna Anna, of elegant figure, with a soprano that brings dramatic strength and lyric suppleness into terrifyingly complete balance. I declare: Such a Donna Anna has not been seen in years.")

"Die junge Russin Anna Netrebko, die sich mit einem sensationellen Début in Salzburg einführte, verfügt über ein derart strahlendes, klangvolles Timbre, dass der Prozess der Emanzipation, der in dieser Figur angelegt ist, wie von selbst zum Ausdruck kommt." --Peter Hagmann in Neue Zürcher Zeitung

("The young Russian Anna Netrebko, making a sensational début at Salzburg, has such a radiating sonorous timbre that the process of emancipation that is required of this figure is expressed naturally.")

"The young Russian soprano Anna Netrebko brought her luscious voice and winning stage presence to the role of Donna Anna. Hers is a big career in the making."-- Anthony Tommasini in the New York Times, August 21, 2002

Pictures below from matinee performance, Aug 11, by Anthony Ukena

Anna's third big debut in 2002
 at Covent Garden (Sept 7th), in a tiny part

" have a soprano of Anna Netrebko's pedigree (Kirov-trained, and a huge hit as Donna Anna at Salzburg this summer) in the tiny part of Servilia is luxury casting indeed. Netrebko has just one aria, as well as the gorgeous first-act duet with Katarina Karneus's wonderfully articulate Annius, but there is plenty of evidence of her sovereign command and huge promise." --The Guardian

"Servilia is portrayed with doll-like beauty by Anna Netrebko, who brings her burnished soprano to a welcome Royal Opera debut." --The Times


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