The Anna Netrebko Opera Company, officially known as the Metropolitan Opera, will open its new season on Sept. 26 with the Russian soprano in the title role of Donizetti's Anna Bolena. This is Netrebko’s first opening night at the Met and one of two roles that she’ll star in at the big house this season, the other being the gold-digging courtesan in Massenet's Manon. Arriving just in time, not coincidentally, is a new recording that gathers eleven Met performances from the past decade, many of which have never been commercially released.
While Netrebko has become the Met’s most bankable star, she was actually a latecomer to the company. She made her career debut at St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater in 1994 in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro after joining the building's cleaning crew as a way to get her voice in the door. Her U.S. debut came a year later at the San Francisco Opera in Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila followed by Met arrival in 2002 as Natasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace. Having just turned 40 on Sunday, Netrebko remains a glamorous figure and the antithesis of the fat opera singer (and ever a target of paparazzi interest in Europe).
This collection offers a rounded snapshot of Netrebko's vocal artistry while capturing the electricity that surrounds her live performances. Two scenes from the Met’s 2010 La Boheme showcase her rich and sensuous sound; “So soave fanciulla” includes the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo along with Gerald Finley as Marcello. A pair of mad scenes -- "Qui la voce” from Bellini’s I Puritani and “Il doce suono” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor – capture both the drama and pinpoint accuracy in Netrebko’s coloratura singing. For sheer dramatic heft, standouts include two arias from Gonoud’s Romeo and Juliette, notably "Amour, ranime mon courage," also known as the "Poison Aria."
Other highlights include "Vedrai, carino," Zerlina's tender and lusty aria from Mozart's Don Giovanni, and “Ya ne budu” from her debut role in War and Peace. With just enough applause to remind us that this is a live recording, the performances are all well captured, especially the most recent tracks.
Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera
Available at Arkivmusic.com