Is this why Netrebko cancelled Carnegie?

Is this why Netrebko cancelled Carnegie?


norman lebrecht

October 23, 2011

A throwaway remark in a German interview earlier this month:

Netrebko: Amerikaner mögen mehr Show, Europäer mehr Musik

In plain English, Americans want more show, Europeans more music.

She may have been misquoted, of course, but it does sound as though she takes the US audience less seriously than the home crowd.

Netrebko has cancelled Carnegie Hall twice in five years. Makes you wonder.

Here‘s the official reason for her withdrawal, citing doctor’s orders.

Anna Netrebko | Photograph: © Kasskara / DG


  • Thomas P says:

    Perhaps some of the less than adulatory reviews of her Anna Bolena put her off the NYC scene? Perhaps she is ill?

  • Herbert Pauls says:

    It seems that sometimes insularity knows no boundaries.

  • Barbara says:

    I take the stated reason as accurate. Anna Bolena is by far the heaviest role she has undertaken, and her performance was heavier than I expected.

  • David says:

    Pot calling the kettle black?

  • Kit says:

    There was a telling moment in the HDLive transmission of Anna Bolena during the curtain call. After well over three hours of maintaining character and decorum under the intense gaze of the cameras (with the exception of horsing around in the background of the shot during Renee Fleming’s interval interview – which only made me think more of her), Netrebko turned and made brief eye contact with Ildar Abdrazakov, who was just then joining her on stage before they walked to the front for their bow. For one brief moment, Netrebko let down her guard, and made a mock pant to her fellow lead performer that said “Phew! Barely made it through!”

    It seems to be widely accepted that Anna Bolena is an exceptionally demanding role. Also, I thought the staging was exceptional, and put that down to McVicar’s attention to psychological detail. But ask any performer – bringing psychological truth to a character who is pretty much doomed to a nasty death from the start, and knows it, and is asked to live it on stage from beginning to end, can be hugely demanding, and draining.

    Another thought – anyone who frequents Carnegie Hall knows that musical quality is invariably valued over showmanship. No contest. It’s in the very fabric of the institution. That’s why classical musicians love it so much. So I just can’t see how that quote would apply in this instance.

    So I’m definitely going to give Netrebko the benefit of the doubt in this particular game.

    • ariel says:

      If ” musical quality is invariably valued over showmanship ” at Carnegie Hall was only true the hall
      would be empty for at least half the year .Ms. Netrebko is vastly overrated for the few good sounds
      she can produce. As for show – she is all show – spare us her musical insights .

      • Kit says:

        How often do you go to Carnegie Hall?

        • ariel says:

          How often ? – for the first 25yrs. almost every week during season – plus Town Hall and once a week
          at the Met during season .. plus the odd recital here and there .Much less nowadays -most are
          bores to varying degrees – not that there weren’t any during the 25+yrs. -but now you get more
          of the “celebrated ” second raters. The names you know ………….

          • Kit says:


            I’m not able to attend nearly so frequently, and when I do it tends to be for the international orchestras and piano recitals, with the occasional contemporary music concert in Zankel thrown in. Curious to know whether you think that the decline in first rate singers is reflected in the overall programming. I wouldn’t know, all my concert going was in London until the late 90s.

            In any case, thank you for the food for thought!

          • ariel says:

            It has very little to do with programming as much as it has to do with training – the truly fine
            singers are rarely booked into the US – song recitals are almost none events except for
            celebrated opera stars cashing in on their celebrity,the great Podles being the exception .
            If your concert going was London then of course you will know of Wigmore Hall . Let me
            assure you there is nothing that comes close to it in the US . There was a time ……………
            Opera stars such as Netrebko have little to do with the art of singing .