Anna Netrebko: ‘We artists shouldn’t meddle in political issues.’ Er, don’t quote me.
The diva gave a joint interview with Placido Domingo to Die Zeit (German text, and not online). Her precondition, issued through her agency, was that she was not to be asked questions about Vladimir Putin. The paper duly reported that.
Here’s a summary of the rest of the interview for Anna-watchers.
During the first part, Domingo does nothing but praise Netrebko.
He first heard her as one of the Flower Maidens in a production of Parsifal conducted by Gergiev.
“She was the jewel of the evening, a diamond!”
He told her after the performance that she should take part in his Operalia competition.
Netrebko: “And I screamed: Never! I’m not the type for competitions. I’ve never taken part in a competition in my life.”
While as opera chief in LA and Washington, he has cast her several times, Il Trovatore is the first time they’ve actually sung together.
Domingo: “And it won’t be the last time. As long as I was a tenor, our repertoire wasn’t compatible. I’m 30 years older than Anna, I was simply too late, something which I’ve always regretted. But now I’m a baritone. I can be Anna’s father on stage. There are lots of father roles….”
Netrebko: “I’d prefer lovers.”
Domingo: “Good, then let’s take Verdi’s Macbeth, he and Lady Macbeth aren’t a particularly nice couple. But exciting. Ever since I heard Anna Netrebko as Manon in LA, she is for me one of the most important singers of all time.”
Netrebko whispers to Domingo: “Placido, you’re talking about me all the time. This is an interview about Il Trovatore.”
Domingo: “Yes, I talk about you. And I’m talking about the calibre of a Maria Callas. And I don’t just mean the voice, but the musical intuition, the acting, your phenomenal stage presence. Just everything.”
Netrebko: “Callas is unparalleled.”
Domingo: “She was unparalleled until you came along.”
Netrebko is equally effusive about Domnigo: “Whether as a tenor or a baritone, it doesn’t matter. Placido’s is the voice of a genius. It is always beautiful, no matter in what repertoire, what language, what age. It is singing at its most perfect. Even if I don’t believe in God, his voice is a gift from above.”
She denies that the opera business is a vipers’ nest (German is Haifischbecken = tank of sharks): “That’s a silly cliche. Why should there be more scheming and plotting, more envy and jealousy than anywhere else?”
Turning to the role of Leonora in Il Trovatore, she says:
“Can I be honest? For me, Leonora is a completely phoney character. I don’t find her credible, not for a second. I don’t believe that someone can love so much that they’d give up their life. That’s total bullshit. I’m a woman of the 21st century. I’m from Russia. And I believe in survival, completely pragmatic. Hence I feel Leonora is an extraordinarily weak person. Manrico is weaker still. Aszuena, the gypsy, simply horrible. Only Luna shows any strength. But Verdi’s music is brilliant. And that is more than enough.”
Towards the very end, she says:
“We artists shouldn’t meddle in political issues.”