Anna Netrebko has Peter Gelb where she wants him

Anna Netrebko has Peter Gelb where she wants him


norman lebrecht

July 03, 2016

The Russian diva has told the Met she won’t sing three of the eight Manon Lescauts she has agreed to next season. The reason? ‘In order to conserve her vocal energies’.

Gelb has got Kristina Opolais to cover, which is fine, but Trebs can now do as she like at the Met. Gelb is in no position to deny any of her whims.

Netrebko tweeted: ‘Life is pretty good right now.’

netrebko joan of arc

Rudolf Bing would be horrified.


  • Tim Walton says:

    It’s about time someone had the guts to stand up to this overrated prima donna.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m not Netrebko’s biggest fan, but if she knows her voice and her fitness, it seems perfectly reasonable to say how many performances she can do. She has to look out for her long-term vocal condition; neither the MET nor any other house will do it for her.

    • Tim Walton says:

      If she was so concerned about her voice then why did she sign the contract to sing all the performances.

      If she signed the full contract she should carry out her commitments. If she didn’t realise the implications of signing the full contract then she obviously does’t have much common sense between her ears.

      The MET would be perfectly within their rights to insist that she fullfilled her contract or sue her for any lost they incurred.

      That is the option/penalty for anyone who breaks any contract.

      Why should this jumped up ‘Prima Donna’ be treated differently from anyone else.

      It is just the same as when she withdrew from Norma at Covent Garden. Disgracefull she should be told sing or go away – permanently.

      I have no idea who her manager is but they are doing a crap job and I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone.

      • Peter Man says:

        and I’m sure you would be the first to stick the boot in if she gave a sub-par performance due to over-scheduling. Do you realise how insane it is to expect every decision made about 3 years ahead to turn out to be right for the voice?

        Good on Netrebko for looking after herself. If this was the norm for all it would raise the standard of performances in general.,

        • Emil Archambault says:

          Florez always schedules all his performances 3 days apart. Up front. Why can’t Netrebko schedule in advance a healthy schedule? Rest and recuperation don’t change over time: you need sufficient time to rest. She should know in advance how much rest she needs and schedule accordingly.

      • Yige says:

        “Why should this jumped up ‘Prima Donna’ be treated differently from anyone else?”

        Indeed. Let’s discuss Kristina Opolais’s cancellation of her performances of “La Juive” at
        Bayerische Staatsoper. Why didn’t the opera house “insist that she fullfilled her contract or sue her for any lost they incurred”?

      • MacroV says:

        Well yes, she should make that deal up-front. OTOH, it’s not like the MET doesn’t experience other singers doing essentially the same thing, calling in indisposed on short notice.

  • Stuart Rogers says:

    I have enjoyed her singing in many productions, including Macbeth at the MET, but just as Ardis Krainik finally fired Pavarotti for bad behaviour in Chicago, Gelb should fire Netrebko.

    • vonessek says:

      Met is a great opera house, but Anna Netrebko eclipsed any single opera house, because she has a strong fan base everywhere. Whether this or that opera house engages her or not cannot harm her career any longer. However important Met is, there are many other houses lining up for Anna Netrebko, even in the U.S. As for Europe – there would be a lot of jubilation here if Anna stayed on European stages more.

  • Pedro says:

    Netrebko is the best singer in the world in her repertoire, except when she is singing Mattila roles. If the MET sends her away, she can sing wherever she wants – and, if the budget is acceptable, I will be there to listen to her.

    • Tim Walton says:

      The standard of her singing, good though it might be, is no excuse for behaving in such a disgraceful manner.

      Assuming the title of a ‘Prima Donna’ in this respect is not always a compliment. She appears to be thinking only of herself and without a care for the disorder she causes. That is why Gelb and others around the world should start standing up to her instead of behaving like a bunch of cowards. If they behave like cowards the Madame will just do it all the more and continue behaving like a childish spoilt brat.

  • Edgar says:

    The only reply I would give to the diva is: you either ding all the performances according to contract, or you are fired. Period.

  • bluepumpkin says:

    Firstly, it is important for any singer to preserve his/her voice. Musical history is littered with those who don’t. Secondly, Joseph Volpe – more recently than Bing – also knew perfectly how to deal with singers who got too big for themselves. He also reminded them that the Met, home to the greatest artists of the 20th cent., was bigger than them. And as an addendum, I believe the great Birgit Nilsson was more than a match for Bing, and indeed Karajan.

  • John says:

    Netrebko finished out the season with a series of Manon Lescauts in Vienna that ended last week. It could very well be that in the course of singing the role in Vienna she realized that it was more taxing than she initially thought, and so she asked the Met to amend her contract.

    If opera houses and what is left of the opera going public want to prolong the careers of the few superstar we have left, we need to be receptive when the singers tell us their limits.

  • Milka says:

    She is second rate and must conserve whatever voice she has to
    keep her dumb fans happy .

    • vonessek says:

      I guess you include Maestri Muti, Chailly and Thielemann in that ‘dumb’ group. All of those gentlemen spoke very highly of her singing recently.

      • Mika says:

        They work with what is available and it would not be politic of them
        to comment on what comes across the counter.A buck is a buck .
        Opera houses are not about music as much as they are about filling seats.
        As soon as her dumb fans get bored with her the sooner opera house doors will
        be shut to her until then make hay while the sun shines .

        • vonessek says:

          I will not comment on your observation that theaters’ doors are opened to singers who are popular. Of course! If Anna were not so popular she wouldn’t be opening seasons all around the place. We agree. However, you are very liberal in smearing people of certain reputation and status, claiming they have no integrity and would say anything for “a buck”. It’s a very cynical view. You should at least entertain a possibility that not everyone would betray their reputation and love for music. Also, that occasionally, if rarely, there comes a singer who is both excellent and popular.

          • Milka says:

            When from childhood one is brought up on singers,( to name but a few)
            such as Flagstaff,Sayao,Simionato ,Korjus, Farrell ,Tebaldi,Milanov,Stratas,
            all quite popular and brilliant singers, one is hard pressed to include the likes
            of Netrebko in their august company.They were the real thing,she ain’t .She has
            a following mostly ignorant to the art of great singing .

  • monkeyvoice says:

    As annoying as it clearly is for people who have bought tickets ahead of time anticipating and rather expecting the billed artists that’s how the cookies crumble. I personally think Netrebko is a very fine singer and quite useful. Her coloratura forays were a joke withthe exception of Puritani which she just about could sing. I think she sounded way dark for Adina, Norina however. Lucia and Gilda were a bit of a hit miss and mess. Donna Macbetto is a bit absurd.. but really it will blow her voice out in the long term. As is evidenced by the Puccini she is singing now and cancelling. Her technique is way too vertical and the voice is spreading and just getting way too loud and unruly. It’s a narrow escape in my estimation as she is on the brink of possibly destroying her vocal estate. Her Italian has always been a bit off as well. But none of the artists are completed these days.

  • vonessek says:

    Anna is taking on a lot of new roles in recent years. So it is understandable if she cannot really tell in advance how much energy the new heavy repertory will take out of her. And yes, today she can do almost anything she wishes, in Europe as well as at the Met, but that status was not simply given to her, she earned it with the audience and colleagues. And I don’t think she misuses her power. She has just been learning to take more care for her voice.