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Press Clippings

Herb Caen, in a major miss-emphasis, 
didn't quite get it right in his 1995 column

"...The black-tie crowd turned out en masse Tues. night for the [S.F.] opera's current smash, "Ruslan and Lyudmila,'' but by the third act, Ruslan (Jeffrey Wells) was gone, as were large parts of the audience. When a gent appeared onstage to announce that Wells was suffering from an allergy, a hale and hearty veteran of the box seats gruffed "That's OK, I'm allergic to him.'' Best moment in the four-hour extravaganza: concertmaster Kay Stern's gorgeous obbligatos to soprano Anna Netrebko's fourth-act aria . . ."


Herb Caen, S.F. Chronicle, September 1995

Stephanie Salter, reporting on a 1996 free outdoor Merola performance at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, did better

"...Like the older and more traditional-looking opera fans in the audience, the younger people were knocked out by a 23-year-old soprano from Russia, Anna Netrebko. Slender and dark-haired, she wore a long, body-clinging red tank dress that had a hot, leg-revealing split up one side.

"In two arias from Verdi's 'La Traviata,' Netrebko proved that her voice is at least as good as her looks. Given the whooping standing ovation that followed, I'd wager that the next time several hundred folks hear 'Ah, fors'e lui' and 'Sempre libera,' the hair on the back of their necks will rise in sensual memory of the divine Miss N...."

Stephanie Salter, S.F. Examiner, "Opera addiction: The first hit is free," August 8, 1996

S.F. Chronicle 1997 profile by music critic Joshua Kosman

Russian Soprano's Star Rose Quickly - Netrebko young but seasoned


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Marfa, Tsar's Bride


Anna sings for her supper at the table of Croesus

Pat Steger, S.F. Chronicle society reporter, 12/2/98

...``Hey, everyone, the dinner's ready,'' called out Gordon Getty over the cocktail dinner at his home Monday. He, wife Ann and the Opera's Lotfi Mansouri got everyone... to talk about ``Der Ring des Nibelungen'' next summer. There was lots of talk, in general, about opera. Gordon said his mother, the late Ann Light, took him to his first opera at the Hollywood Bowl when he was 7: `` `Madama Butterfly,' and it was so beautiful I wept through it all.''

Dinner began with chef Alfonse's signature sea bass.... Ah, the secret sauce. Only Alfonse knows.

Even better than the secret sauce Monday was the icing on the cake, which came after dessert -- Russian soprano Anna Netrebko of ``Betrothal in a Monastery'' singing in the music room. ``Just imagine. She was once Miss Kiev,'' said Lotfi. We know what she did during the talent competition.

Anna makes Liz Smith's gossip column (8-5-04)

OK, SO SOPRANO Anna Netrebko was born in St. Petersburg, but don't call her "The Russian Girl." She sings in several languages and doesn't care to categorize herself regionally. Of course, if we knew the name of the street where she lived and what she called her childhood pet, we would be allowed to refer to Anna by her stripper name. The sexy, raven-haired singer has a secret aspiration: to be a pole-dancing, G-string- wearing, "make-men-drool-and-sweat" stripper for one night only. Having seen her photo, we think that act could surely sell out the Met. And she'd never have to hit a high E. (Actually, she'll portray the saucy Musetta in the Met's "La Bohčme" come November.)

Anna, whose "Sempre Libera" CD hits stores Tuesday, will be seen and heard in "Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," and she plans to release a DVD performing arias "MTV style." She is also a scorching salsa dancer. This is not your mother's opera diva.


In 2003, the publicity machine cranked up

In addition to brief featurettes in the November Vanity Fair and something called Details, there was a more extended profile and interview in the November issue of Opera News titled "Wild Thing" which included a coyly lubricious photo of Anna consorting with a Viennese pastry. We've had Peach Melba; it may be time to start calling this bit of strudel Stawberries Netrebko.

2003 report of Anna paddling about a Brentwood pool lip-synching for her MTV-style DVD

Article from The Los Angeles Times, November 2, 2003

A soprano makes a dive into the DVD pool

By Louise Roug

  The other night, the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko floated on top of a pink and turquoise plastic swan in a Brentwood swimming pool, her tiny manicured toes dipped in the water.

  A video camera hovered above while an assistant wearing a wet suit circled the singer. It was a little before 8 p.m., and the shoot for an MTV-meets-the-Met music video had just begun. At the edge of the pool, Vincent Patterson, choreographer for Madonna, Britney et al., watched on a monitor.

  The production crew and the 32-year-old singer (who's featured in the current Vanity Fair and will sing the title role in Los Angeles Opera's upcoming Lucia di Lammermoor) had come to Brentwood to film the last of five video segments to accompany her latest CD - a Deutsche Grammophon recording of operatic highlights by Mozart, Donizetti, Puccini and others, packaged to make the most of her lovely features. Plans call for the videos to be released in the U.S. as a DVD in the spring.

  As she lip-synced to a playback of her singing Antonin Dvorák's "Song to the Moon" ("O moon, stay awhile, tell me where my beloved is!"), about a dozen crew members, many of them Austrian, watched from the edge of the pool. Inside the house, a model - the "male talent," who would join the filming later - was slumped in a chair, reading a paperback.

  "Your hands are his hands, OK?" Patterson called out to Netrebko. Lovingly, she ran her fingers through her hair and caressed her white outfit - a little more than a bathing suit but not quite a dress. The camera zoomed in.

At one end of the kidney-shaped pool, a fire marshal watched the floating Netrebko, holding his thumbs in his belt and slightly swaying to the music.

  "This side, that's the movie star side," Patterson told her.

  Netrebko yawned a little ladylike yawn. Her stylist jumped in the pool, treading water as she rearranged the soprano's hair. "It's getting colder," the singer complained, but added, pensively, "you must suffer for the art."

Diva, unbridled

The Christian Science Monitor profiles Anna (12/17/03):

...Netrebko has not become one of the most coveted names in opera just because her voice flows over audiences in a silken stream of pitch and melody, though it does. Netrebko has not been hailed as the next Beverly Sills or Maria Callas simply because her face and figure evoke Milan runway models rather than Viking horns and helmets, though they do. Anna Netrebko has reached this moment, on the edge of becoming the first great soprano of the new century, because she is fearless....

It's hardly the icy air of superiority. Nor is it the hauteur of a highbrow bad girl, as if Paris Hilton had suddenly mastered the canon of Mozart librettos. It's more the unadorned projection of the fact that Anna Netrebko simply likes to have fun. And for the moment, at least, she's having fun singing opera.

"It's another life, and I like to pretend - to lead different lives. Some of my friends told me many years ago that I am more real on the stage than I am in real life," she grins. "That's funny. I don't think so, but it's nice because you know it's fake. You can play, you can suffer, you can die. You're feeling this. All these feelings are real, but you know that it will be over in one hour. And you can share this with the audience."

--Mark Sappenfield

For full text, click here.


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