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On NPR's Weekend Edition, Nov. 29, 2003, Scott Simon interviewed Anna Netrebko. 

A brief excerpt:

SCOTT SIMON:  Besides opera, what are some of your interests in life?
ANNA:  I like to eat. (laughs)  I like shopping.  I like to go to see something like museums sometimes.  I like to go out with the friends, to the discotheque, to the bars… I'm young.  I can have fun in my life.
SCOTT SIMON:  Of course....Another selection on your CD is "Musetta's Waltz" from La Boheme, one of the best-known pieces in opera. Let's listen to your rendition, if we could.

  (Musetta’s waltz plays)

SCOTT SIMON:  What's Musetta saying here?
ANNA:  `When I am so beautiful and when I am walking on the street, all the men sort of turning the heads looking at me.' (laughs)  I love Musetta.  This is one of the most easiest and natural roles for me.  She's a little bit beetchy, but it's OK.
SCOTT SIMON:  A little bit peachy, did you say?
ANNA:  Beetchy.

SCOTT SIMON:  Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that the first time around. Your English is getting very good.
ANNA:  Oh, thank you. I try.

Listen to the interview

Copyright © 2003 National Public Radio®


photo by Ann Johansson 
for The New York Times

Ms. Netrebko shops and talks in New York 
(New York Times, 11/16/03)


Interview from the New York Resident, March 11, 2002 (posted with permission)

From Russia with Love
Soprano Anna Netrebko on 'War & Peace,'
Opera Reviews & Her Love for New York

By Kevin Filipski
New York Resident Contributing Writer

"This opera isn't easy to understand," says Russian soprano Anna Nerebko about Sergei Prokofiev's epic adaptation of Tolstoy's classic "War and Peace," in which she makes her Metropolitan Opera debut.

Speaking in charmingly accented English recently at the Essex House, the singer elaborates: "It's difficult to grasp, especially the second half, which I didn't like the first time I heard it."

As Natasha, Prokofiev's beguiling heroine in the opera, running through March 19 at the Met (Lincoin Center, 362-6000), the 30-year-old Netrebko gives the kind of complete portrayal - natural, unaffected acting, lovely stage presence, absolutely beautiful voice - of which stardom is made. Netrebko's Natasha dominates the opera's first part, "Peace," falling in love with the dashing Prince Andrei (Dmitri Hvorostovsky), then, during "War," reappearing only for her beloved's death scene.

Prokofiev's refusal to make concessions to conventional drama and vocal technique has been criticized, but not by Netrebko. "People say [Prokofiev's music] is difficult, not comfortable to sing, but I don't think so," she says. "For me, it's very comfortable to sing Natasha."

Equally undaunting is the long layoff between the end of the first act and her brief second act appearance. "I can go to sleep," she laughs. "The [second act] death scene is easy to sing. If I had to sing something more difficult, it wouldn't be as easy after such a long break not singing. The first half is more difficult, since I'm singing all the time - a whole hour and a half - and l also have to act, I have to dance, I have to run around and change my dresses very fast."

Netrebko doesn't appreciate that most local press coverage of this gloriously sung and performed opera has concentrated on an opening-night mishap: An extra portraying a Russian soldier wound up in the orchestra pit, prompting outcries about the steeply raked stage and concerns about performers' safety. (The Met says that the now-fired extra jumped, which he denies.)

"I think it's very sad that lots of newspapers are talking only about his falling down [into the pit] instead of about the opera," she says. "It happens; it could happen to anybody. We were even dancing up there, which is more dangerous than walking - you just have to watch out.

"What I heard from him was that he was blinded because of the lighting and the snow and he just lost his way...that's why he fell," she says. "It's only in America that this [uproar] would happen. In Europe and in Russia, no one would care about this. Here, there's a lot more worrying about such things.

"We even have to wear safety belts when we're up on the balcony because they're scared we might fall down. It would be better without the safety belts because if the balcony does tip over, we can jump." Then, pausing perfectly for effect, she says, "I'm kidding."

Netrebko would also like to correct press misinformation. "One newspaper [Anthony Tommasini's review in the New York Times] called my voice Nordic: 'a cool, Nordic voice.' I'm not from the north; I was born in the south of Russia [Krasnodar]."

After finishing the Met performances, Netrebko sings Giulietta in Vincenzo Bellini's bel canto classic "The Capulets and the Montagues," at the Opera Company of Philadelphia ( in April, where she can partake in two of her passions. "I love American audiences more than anywhere else - they respond always to me," she says. "And I love bel canto opera - I would love to sing even more of it."

And when Netrebko returns to the Met next season to sing in Mozart's "Don Giovanni," not only her new-found New York fans will be happy. "I love New York; it's such a wonderful city," she says with genuine affection. "And you definitely have to be here when you are young, since there's so much to do."

Besides giving dazzling onstage performances, that is.

(cover photo © 2000 Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos, NYC; larger photo by Kevin Filipski)


Anna  interviewed  (12/12/04) on CBS Television's 60 Minutes


"When I just started my career...of course I always [tried] to look very good. I [would] change the dress all the time on the performance, and people came to me and said, 'Oh, beautiful dress...and you look so beautiful.' That's it. I was so upset nobody [was] saying anything about my singing."

"Thank God they start to speak a little about my voice and my singing, and this makes me happy."

"If I would really get tired of [opera] and if I start to sing [poorly], I will just change. But I will not disappear. ...You will see me somewhere."

See the interview


Anna makes an appearance on a German TV talk show

'In December 2004, the opera singer Anna Netrebko proved that classic music could be popular when she reached out to some 14 million Germans or 47 percent of the viewing audience during a prime time appearance on public broadcaster ZDF’s entertainment show “Wetten, dass…?” (Bet that...). Of course, the majority of her viewers probably tuned in to see the follow-up acts by the other guests Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue. Nonetheless, when the Russian soprano sang an aria from “Gianni Schicchi” a cross-section of the German public was listening and watching. After her performance when the opera diva was overwhelmed with compliments for her beautiful voice from the show’s host and British pop star Robbie Williams, people -- particularly non-opera buffs -- took notice.'

--from Deutsche Welle 12/19/2004


'British pop hunk ROBBIE WILLIAMS has infuriated the German media by banning photographers from his public appearances. The former TAKE THAT singer was promoting his GREATEST HITS album and new single MISUNDERSTOOD on TV show WETTEN DASS on Saturday (11DEC04) when he made a series of demands to the producers. As Williams flirted with two female audience members and opera singer ANNA NETREBKO, all accredited photographers were led from the stage by security.' [Anna is known to be a big fan of Robbie Williams.]


German talk show host Thomas Gottshalk welcomes Anna to his show.


Robert Thicknesse interviews Anna in The (London) Times, June 10, 2005            

Domestos goddess                                   

Most singers come to interviews in the winded fatigues favoured by rehearsing actors everywhere. Not Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano appearing next week as Gilda in Covent Garden’s Rigoletto: she’s smart as a button perched on the edge of her sofa in neo-Edwardian Marc Jacobs jacket and jeans.

Netrebko is one of those singers who remind you how rarely genuine talent and beauty go together. She will probably never be the megastar that Angela Gheorghiu is — a question of repertoire (she doesn’t do the big crowd-pleasing Puccinis) and marketing (no Alagna on the scene) as much as vocal quality, which Netrebko has in spades — and in real life she’s rather less full of her own image. When she eventually relaxes (the German press have been after her and she’s a bit nervous), the 33-year-old Netrebko is laughing, cheerful and open — and, unlike with Gheorghiu, I am conscious of not being terrified of the potential volcano waiting to greet the wrong question.

This year she’s singing Gilda till it’s coming out of her ears, and I wonder whether this, plus the fact that her life is minutely booked up for the next four years, isn’t a bit depressing for a party girl who likes to have a life outside opera. “Last year I got a big depression, I wanted to give up singing, nothing was making me happy. But I cancelled a couple of productions and stayed quiet and did nothing — no music, nothing — and now I am enjoying it again.

“Everybody wants a bit of you: agents, record companies, opera houses — it can be a nightmare.”

She cut down on the partying, too — “you can’t sing after dancing all night. I’m getting old! And I can’t afford cracked notes at Covent Garden.”

What about the endlessly repeated repertoire of drippy heroines? “I don’t think Gilda is a stupid victim. That’s not how I sing it. Perhaps because it’s so high for me!” She bursts out laughing again. “She is in love and full of delusion, but that’s how it is. She is the only positive person on stage. Of course, I can’t go on singing the same thing all the time — I’ve done 500,000 Musettas (in La bohème) but stopped now — otherwise you don’t develop.”

Despite having a singer boyfriend — Simone Alberghini, currently in Glyndebourne’s Cenerentola — there is to be no Ange ’n’ Bert Mark 2. “I don’t like singing with him: I worry about him, he worries about me.”

Nor are there any plans for marriage — in fact she makes one of her regular snorting noises when I mention it. As she does when I bring up the internet rumour of her pregnancy. “Bah, bull****!” she explodes. “Did they say from who?” More hilarity when I suggest her Svengali, Valery Gergiev. “But he is old man! . . . I don’t know, maybe in Germany I had too much to eat and someone took a photo of my profile. It was German food!”

The recent Classical Brit Awards, where she performed, arouse more magnificent disdain. “You know who won first prize? Katherine Jenkins!Excuse me, this is not real. Classical music should be more serious.” We discuss la Jenkins’s attributes. “Yeah, nice boobs,” says Netrebko enigmatically. But she’s not bitchy.

Her own story is romantic enough. She came to Petersburg from Krasnodar — “a normal, boring, Soviet childhood” — at the age of 16. She attended music college and conservatoire (“I didn’t finish anything: I don’t have a diploma!”), during which she skivvied at the Maryinsky Theatre, mopping floors while living in bleak digs. Then she won the Glinka singing competition, auditioned for the part of Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro and got the rather bigger part of Susanna. That was in 1994, at an age when most British singers are barely out of nappies. Luckily for her, Gergiev was rejuvenating the company and fixed on her as a likely prima donna.

Perhaps the biggest break was her Donna Anna at Salzburg in 2002 — a part usually sung by much older, heavier voices, and a performance that I saw: extraordinary to see this waif-like creature singing that big music. “It was Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s idea to make Anna young and fragile,” she recalls. In real life she’s taller than she seemed on that stage — a testimony to how vulnerably well she played the part — and I remember vividly the combination of stage presence and startlingly large, beautiful, rounded voice coming out.


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