Living opera legend of our generation, Anna Netrebko, has been blessed to be able to take a sabbatical from solo recordings for over half a decade, despite the consistent need in today’s day and age to stay in the known. In those years, Netrebko had found love in partner Erwin Schrott, bore a son, and risen to the undeniable “it” voice. The question in Netrebko choosing to do such demandingly heavy repertoire was how well her voice could hold up.
Now teaming up with Verdi extraordinaire conductor Gianandrea Noseda in an all-Verdi program, Netrebko validates a half-decade wait with a voice robust of weight and polish, all while benefitting from a deeper maturity and comprehension for fine technique. Make no mistake, Netrebko’s voice is bigger and bolder than ever and arguably at its finest form in the last decade. What makes Netrebko’s latest embarkment so special is her intelligence and thorough grasp at performing a Shakespearean role – never overtaxing her chords for what is needed, whereas less-experienced sopranos would quickly do.
Netrebko has never really been known for a “Verdian”-ready voice, but this collection of morsels dispels any previous notions. Nearly every gem on this album makes it feel that Verdi wrote with Anna’s climatic voice in mind. Poise and steady, the soprano sings with an almost antiqueness quality that protrudes a blissful and alluring pull to the Il Trovatore selections, while her villainous and quite frankly downright stormy character brings life back to Macbeth. Netrebko pulls all stops on “Tu che le vanita” from Don Carlo and really soars with ferocity. One must wonder if she is being too heavy on the voice at times at the sacrifice of her longevity.
Verdi is an opera lover’s dream come true. Anna has always been a thunderbolt with a charismatic large voice, but her ability to pull back is perhaps her greatest sign of being in complete control of Verdi’s “erratic” repertoire. Netrebko validates that she is the world’s greatest soprano of the moment and a riley veteran with a methodic and staunch stab at hitting every pitch where it matters most. Netrebko is never intimidated even in the face of the challenging Macbeth arias. After garnering her flawless technique in the last five years, Netrebko aptly applies it here. And, rather than relying on a deeply heated tone throughout Verdi’s dark roles, Netrebko preferably sings with a smooth and controlled tone – a telling example of how comfortable she is with the hurdles such repertoire presents to sopranos. Verdi is a sign of a new era for Netrebko’s career – and it is golden indeed.
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