What offended Netrebko in this show?

What offended Netrebko in this show?


norman lebrecht

November 18, 2014

Here’s the trailer for the Munich Manon Lescaut she walked out of. Looks pretty conventional from here.



  • Chris says:

    If you read the statements, the difference was about the interpretation of Manon’s mindset and her outlook on life and gender stereotypes. Not about visuals or effects.

    • Diana Medford says:

      According to Neuenfels, the point of contention was in a basic disagreement about Manon’s moral character. He asserted that she was was aware of the moral wrongness of the choice she made to leave Des Grieux for the elderly, wealthy Geronte and that she essentially chose her own doom. Netrebko’s point of view (according to Neuenfels) was that Manon was more of an innocent; she genuinely and sincerely believed that it was not only possible but morally acceptable to divide her time between a true lover and a wealthy protector. Or, to put it briefly, Netrebko believed that Manon sincerely loved Des Grieux; Neuenfels thought she was acting out of pure self-interest.

      Honestly, in the context of this particular opera, I think Netrebko’s point of view is the more valid, i.e., it is much easier to support based on the text and the music. Neuenfels’ harder view of the character might apply better to Massenet’s treatment of the character.

      No, in fact, there is no one piece of movement or gesture that Netrebko would likely refuse to perform; she is in fact willing to do just about anything onstage. But to take what she regards as a completely wrong-headed approach to a character might be outside her powers.

  • fred says:

    switch off the sound, is there anyone who would guess this is Puccini’s manon lescaut???
    Arty-farty non sensical director’s shit….again. Anna was right! Jonas is wrong coz he’s helping to kill an art form

    • Schleppa says:

      “Kill an art form” might be a bit of an overstatement, no? When cubism became a major movement, I am sure lots of critics were also claiming the death of the art form – yet it lives and is doing perfectly fine. This too is a stage of art form development. Besides it is hard to judge any production from a two-minute trailer

      • J. says:

        Cubism is an art per se. Don’t screw another person’s work. I don’t have problems with directors staging stupid things; I have problems with directors screwing other composers ideas. Picasso didn’t throw up Tiziano’s painting through the window, he painted his own works. Wanna stage nazis? Write your own opera. It’s simple.

        • Diana Medford says:

          Sigh. This again. Painting is not a recreative or performative art form. A painting does not need to be “performed” to exist; or, to put it another way, it needs no mediation between the creator and the audience. Opera, on the other hand, most definitely need mediation. Performing a score is by definition an act of interpretation: simply deciding what Mozart meant by “allegretto,” for example, can make an enormous difference in how the piece is apprehended.

          Unless you are ready to define “opera” as “sitting quietly reading the Partitur to one’s self,” then you can’t compare opera to painting. The two have nothing in common except that very elusive label “art.”

          • J. says:

            What is the problem with writing his own opera? This would end ALL discussions. “The public don’t want to hear it”. Well, it’s up to you. This is not Mozart’s fault.

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      Oh fr goodness sake! GROW UP!!!!!

    • Alexander Brown says:

      Fred – you’re so right! In any case, this kind of staging, irrelevant to the story or the music, is so old hat – it has been done a hundred times before (usually German productions). When will these intendants and directors remember that people go to opera for the music and the singing, not this kind of outlandish, nonsensical – and ultimately irrelevant – staging! Would you queue in the rain for tickets to see this staging without the music? Or would you queue in the rain to hear Netrebko and Kaufman without the staging (concert version)? I think we know the answer to that one…

  • Simon S. says:

    As far as I have read and was told, it’s a rather boring production, though the singers did a great job and especially Opolais made nobody miss Netrebko.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Netrebko has vocal problems and Neuenfels’ production was made the scapegoat.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Really? I have it on very good inside authority.

      • Guus Mostart says:

        I consider this malicious gossip. I very recently heard Netrebko as Lady Macbeth at the Met and she was in splendid form.

    • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

      I agree with Guus Mostart. Here in Munich no such gossip has surfaced and such rumours ought not to be encouraged when the woman is actually on good form (as many people pointed out re. her performances at the Met recently).

      • Theodore McGuiver says:

        It could be malicious gossip; I’m only relaying what I was told by people at the Bayerische(r) Staatsoper. Why did she show up three weeks into a six-week rehearsal period and duck out a few days later? Presumably she was familiar with the concept? She said she didn’t like the production but how did she sing at the Echo Awards? Not too well, it seems.

        I heard her Trovatore in the summer and thought it was fantastic. I have absolutely nothing against her, but the question was launched and I merely realted what I’d been told.

  • Howard Haimes says:

    If you were present at Macbeth at the MET, how can you have the audacity to suggest that Netrebko has vocal problems? She might be challenged in some arias which are still works in progress, but her voice has grown in stature and character and can fill a ~ 3500 seat auditorium. Having spoken with her after the performance, it is clear that nothing is standing in her way. I think she has the principles to object on the basis of philosophical differences with the director even to the point of taking some flack by backing out at the 11th hour. It would been wonderful to see her sing with Jonas. Afterall, it is not the first time she has sung the role. Brava to Anna for taking the courage for standing up to her principles and appreciation for the character,

  • Petros Linardos says:

    I hear some great music making, and enjoy it best when not looking at the clip.

  • SMR says:

    Diana Medford… the “very good inside authority” don’t pass the test of the way she performed during Obratzsova’s gala at Bolchoi. The voice sounded very healthy… So forget it. It’s always the same attempt. Maybe the inside authority was there late and was mistaking Netrebko with Opolais shrill top ?