First sight of Anna Netrebko singing Wagner

First sight of Anna Netrebko singing Wagner


norman lebrecht

May 13, 2016

She’s Elsa in Lohengrin at Dresden next week. This is the first orchestral stage rehearsal.

German’s maybe not her strong point.


  • DESR says:

    Can’t wait: she and Thielemann in Wagner? Dream team.

    • Olassus says:


      • Pedro says:


        • Olassus says:

          Thielemann screws around with meter. Anna is new to German. But this is your dream team in Wagner?

          As Thielemann would say, “Mein Gott!”

          • Anon London says:

            Anna is definitely not new to German. She’s lived in Austria since at least 2006 and she speaks more German than she does Italian. Also, her German in this clip sounds great.

          • DESR says:

            It’s called ‘Wagnerian melos’, old boy – not ‘screwing around with meter’….

            To the back of the class, all time beaters and metronome freaks!

          • Olassus says:

            From the back of the class I will say Wagner was a(n) harmonically progressive Classicist at heart whose music sounds its best — by far — when led with tautness and consistency as to time. This is why Toscanini, Kubelík, Jochum, Böhm, Boulez and of course that oversold Decca artist were surprisingly effective.

          • searchers says:

            Furtwangler is often considered one of the very best Wagner conductors. I recall reading that he walked out of a Toscanini performance, calling Toscanini nothing more than a “bloody time beater”. There is something to be said for conducting Wagner with dramatic flexibility.

          • Olassus says:

            Furtwängler had a beautiful way of building phrase upon phrase, ideally heard in his Beethoven. Thielemann’s Beethoven at its best can be terrific, but he is apt to screw around in the moment, causing damage.

            If by “dramatic flexibility” you mean allowing singers to breathe, I don’t think anyone would disagree. Otherwise I can’t imagine how arbitrary shifts help a score’s structure, and I am not aware of any such problems in the Furtwängler Tristan.

            You might want to listen to Toscanini’s Wagner. It is not empty.

      • Urania says:

        Dream Team – no thanks! She does sing Wagner like everything else, always Anna N. first!

        • DESR says:

          Olassus, it is not a question of mere time, and even tempo, but pulse and the interplay of bars, phrases and even acts.

          • Olassus says:

            Well, of course. And I have heard masterful interpretive control from Thielemann in Strauss, Brahms, Bruckner and Schumann.

            Also in Beethoven 7 and 8 (in Wien, where he is probably best-behaved).

            Someone should instruct him to learn Sibelius. He would be brilliant, I imagine.

            His 2009 Ring was subject to caprice. There is no way I would sit through that again. Musicians at my hotel were asking what the heck he was up to, at least as annoyed as I was. His Eroica a few years ago was simply perverse. Hopefully his 2016 Tristan will be worthwhile — but I am not counting on it.

  • Hagentaco says:

    Trebs and Netrebko together… I expect an electrifying Alexis Colby vs Krystle Carrington kind of fight.

    And her German is as good as Domingo’s, and fair better than Garanca’s French or most singer’s Italian or Spanish.

    Funny how there are more snobs who complain about other people’s accents in languages they don’t master than those natives who know better and/or don’t really care. Ignorant snobbism.

    • Hagentaco says:

      *Herlitzius and Netrebko together

    • Respect says:

      Domingo’s German was painful, no open vowels and no style. Emperor’s new clothes. Couldn’t believe the fuss made over it. His French roles were excellent, though.

    • Dale says:

      Domingo’s Lohengrin sounded exactly the way a knight who grew up in the Pyrenees would sound if told to go to Brabant and rescue a maiden in German.

  • Cuban Stallion says:

    Impossible to make a judgement about her German from such a distant recording — but what is immediately apparent is that her voice fits Wagner (at least in this passage) splendiferously! Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Anon London says:

    Brava Anna. Was never a real fan until hearing her Manon Lescaut in Rome, but now that she’s finally found her voice, I’m ready to board the train. Strauss, Puccini, Tchaikovsky and Elsa are most definitely her voice. Toi toi for the premier.

  • ANTONY says:

    I hear crisper German at the Staatsoper in Berlin, but the language is hyper important there. But not one wrong vowel sound, and boy or boy, can she sing it. What IS all the b+++hing all about?!!!

    • Anon says:

      She is Russian, and Russia is the new old evil Empire. We need enemies, otherwise the gullible masses will not rally around the flag and keep funding our senseless perpetual wars. So as a good patriot you have to hate her, do not fall for the siren. Tie yourself to the mast and hold the course steady.

  • Peter says:

    Her German sounds pretty good to me. At least on the same level as Gwyneth Jones. Certainly better than Domingo.
    Haters gonna hate.

  • Pedro says:

    I very much like what I hear and see in the short excerpt. I hope Sieglinde will come next, and after that Kundry and Isolde with the three best Wagner conductors of the moment ( Thielemann, Barenboim and Gatti ). AN has worked well with all of them n the past.

    • urania says:

      Did listen to all three of them, often, ….do not agree! Wagner has to be understood by the ‘inside’ dimension of the libretto and most conductors don’t see the spiritual matrix. The drama has to be in the music as well – not just prober notes. If Opera Leipzig would have done a Ring with more ‘substance’ – this production would be a MUST – because Gewandhaus Orchestra and Ulf Schirmer know the ‘underlying’ drama in the music !

  • John Groves says:

    I hope they have an understudy – she probably won’t turn up!

  • Una says:

    So good to have some positive remarks here than the usual bashing up of singers and personal preferences …

    Else is a role that a good lyric soprano can sing, as was shown at Bayreuth by the wonderful Irish soprano, Heather Harper, and whose recording of it I have dating back to 1967. It has Rudolf Kempe conducting and Donald McIntyre as Telramund – and a Hungarian, whose name escapes me, so all nationalities then. But today we pigeon-hole singers into whether they can sing Wagner or not – pity. Heather Harper sang everything but Else was her only Wagner role perhaps as she knew her limitations and wanted to carry on singing Monteverdi, Bach, Strauss and twentieth-century music. She certainly kept her voice professionally until she was 70 – says it all about her good technique and her musicality. She was firstly a concert pianist and a very good violinist but gave that up to be a singer.

    • John Groves says:

      Heather Harper and Donald Mc! Now there are two REAL superb, underrated, singers! they don’t make them like that at present!

  • urania says:

    Lyric soprano????
    Here a new video from FB…..I thought first this was Ortrud !