So how was Netrebko’s Aida at the Met?

So how was Netrebko’s Aida at the Met?


norman lebrecht

September 27, 2018

The NY Times and WSJ reviews are not out yet.

But here’s George Loomis in the Financial Times:

Anna Netrebko had not sung Aida since her role debut at the 2017 Salzburg Festival, but judging from her exciting performance here, she could hardly wait to return to the role. It’s as if pent-up urgency found release in a portrayal that is sumptuously intoned, viscerally charged and consummate in musicality. Netrebko’s voice has attained a heft and an ever-so-slightly darker hue that make her unrivalled in Verdi’s classic dramatic roles. She meets squarely every challenge of Aida, not least that of producing a glorious high C in the aria “O patria mia”. And if her portrayal of the Ethiopian princess has gained a new dimension, it is the fevered intensity she brings to confrontational scenes (more here).

And try this from Eric C. Simpson in New York Classical Review:

…  the Russian soprano has rarely sounded better than in the title role of Aida on Wednesday night. There was no trace of the slight wobble that has occasionally crept into her singing. In this performance she showed an unusual focus along with the tremendous vocal power and passionate conviction that are her hallmarks as a performer. 

“Ritorna vincitor” was an arresting moment early on, as she threw herself into the scene with abandon. Both here and in “O patria mia,” she showed her gift for playing in the grand style, making a convincing portrait out of the sort of wide gestures that from other singers can come across as over-the-top mugging (more here).


UPDATE: A crtical self-parody in the NY Times:

At this stage of her career, Ms. Netrebko’s voice abounds in richness, depth and dusky colorings. Yet there are still elements of the bloom and sweetness from her days as a lyric. In climactic outbursts, when she summoned all her smoldering power, Ms. Netrebko sent phrases slicing through the brassy orchestra and into the house. Yet in plaintive passages, the melting warmth of her tone and the supple way she shaped long lines held you in thrall.


  • Martain Smith says:

    Saw it in Salzburg!

    Is this fake news or as she been having lessons with someone?

    • Bogda says:

      Another hater or you just want to look smart?

      • Allen says:

        I think you need to calm down and reconsider your understanding of the word “hate”.

        • Bogda says:

          Sorry but that’s BS. You might like or not someone’s singing, however I’m really fed up with all these trolls around the web who just like to write a nasty comment about anyone famous. Whenever there is a post about Netrebko, Kaufman, Bartoli, Domingo, or any other major opera star there’s immediately bunch of comments about problematic voice, lack of technical skills, or how incomparable they all are to stars form 50s, 60s end so on. It’s actually become pathetic

          • Allen says:

            Pathetic? Maybe, maybe not, but “hate” is a strong word and, IMO, is seriously overused to add weight where it wouldn’t otherwise exist, or to silence unwanted opinion.

          • Bogda says:

            I was replying to a post that was talking about fake news. Think that “hate” fits perfectly in that kind of language

          • Paul says:

            Bogda I agree with you. I must however state that this type of “hating” has been around for decades if not centuries. I remember my days at the STEHPLATZ (standing room area) at the Wiener Staatsoper in the 80’s. Literally fights used to break out because of certain visitors that would boo a singer and the singers’s defendants. We would have to line up for tickets from about 3:30 pm and all the fans would see each other on a daily basis and discuss the last week’s/night’s performance(s). Believe me there were plenty of haters and just as many people that thought their opinion was definitive! Obviously the internet has given all these Beckmessers a global platform to express their views. Nevertheless, Netrebko’s legacy will outlive them – I have no doubt of that

          • Denell Covington says:

            Oh my God…..and in 2022 it continues…normally from ppl wouldn’t be able to sing Mary had a little lamb in tune….

  • anon says:

    Her tone got darker and her blackface got lighter. Progress all in all.

  • Sue says:

    Anna. Lovely.

  • Grant says:

    “that make her unrivalled in Verdi’s classic dramatic roles” If this is true, it’s a very sad time for opera!

  • Carpaduccio says:

    “There are no good singers since 1950 blah blah blah…”

    • Bruce says:

      • Nilsson was no Flagstad, back in the day.
      • Price was no Milanov.

      Nobody has ever been as good as anyone’s favorite dead or retired singer (or pianist/ violinist/ conductor/ etc.). And nobody ever will be. The state of the art has been declining since it began. Oh well.

  • Kay young says:

    it is no good keep comparing today’s singers with those in the 50s and 60s. there was an exceptional harvest back then. we have good singers and give them a chance. netrebko is a great soprano. didonato and bartoli are great mezzo. Juan Diego florez is a wonderful tenor. and there are more. appreciate what we have now. and of course the greats of the past. and enjoy our wonderful opera.

  • Trevor Lynes says:

    I have listened to all the so called greats of the past and Netrebko gives me more pleasure. Callas was quite screechy and had quite a few poor reviews even in Italy.
    Netrebko is the best all around entertainer and opera is supposed to be entertaining.
    Placido Domingo rates Anna very highly and I take his comments seriously as he has sung with so many top sopranos.

    • Tristan says:

      you might be right but never ever compare Callas with Netrebko who is a great singer indeed. Callas – what ever reviews you are referring – cannot be compared with anyone, she was unique in every sense and never again we will have such Goddess on stage again. However we have tons of people without any knowledge and taste.
      What ever Callas has done on stage is legendary and has never been achieved by anyone else since. Nevertheless I’d be happy to have singers like Tebaldi, Scotto, Freni or Ricciarelli, even Maria Chiara who could sing Italian! Nothing against our Eastern European singers but they all lack Italian colour. Still, who else should sing this repertoire? Milanov could be magic through and Leontyne also.
      I am happy we have Netrebko even if it’s mostly Netrebko.

  • MWnyc says:

    She was pretty much always on pitch (not, alas, something that can be taken for granted with opera singers), but she sounded labored to me. It didn’t sound like she was pushing, exactly – there was no throaty strain, but it sounded like an effort to move her voice around.

    Aleksandrs Antonenko as Radames was (only just) okay at the end, but “Celeste Aida” was a disaster: the person next to me said, “That was the sound of a voice in ruins.”

    My favorite was Quinn Kelsey as Amonasro.

  • Reuven Brenner says:

    All these comparison with past singers make no sense: the Met seats some 4000; La Scala – about half, as I recall; the others smaller. There are magnificent voices that can be heard all over Europe in the smaller houses, but who cannot pass at all at the Met.

    Bartoli still sounds good in Europe. No way she can sing her repertoire at the Met or at the warehouse-style-built Lyric. I heard the late Pavarotti at the Lyric few times – and even he – depending where you sat, did not sound so special there. (Never mind Florez, whom you could hardly hear even in good orchestra seats at the Lyric). Netrebko has not only a big, smooth voice now (it was always smooth,no strident passages), but somehow her unique voice projects spectacularly in these large venues. Recall her opening aria in Macbeth at the Met – that sound hit, almost shocked , like a big wave. Cannot think of anyone else now filling 4,000 set opera houses – musically – with such sounds.

    • Bruce says:

      I read an opinion once — in Opera News, of all places — that when people say “so-and-so is nothing special compared to so-and-so,” what they’re really expressing is not truly an opinion that current singers are terrible, but fear that the wonderful singers of the past will be forgotten. (I think his example was Mady Mesplé fans dissing Natalie Dessay.)

      That’s a charitable interpretation — the author ignored the obvious need some people have to appear more cultivated than the hoi polloi — but a little charity can be nice.

    • Trsitan says:

      The jodelling of Bartoli is unbearable and her Norma horrible. In Italy she could never sing such but the Germans with their peculiar taste like that – especially their critics who have even less taste

    • Jason Robinson says:


  • Trevor Lynes says:

    Callas had a very short career and was indeed booed on occasion. She was not as versatile as many other singers and i dont think she ever sang comedy roles.
    In every type of entertainment the past performers always seem to ‘grow’ in comparison to present artists. This is a phenomenon which is true in sport and comedy besides opera. All in fact are based on individual tastes otherwise everyone would like the same entertainer. Many sopranos both past and present are top class, but Netrebko is the only one who made the Time most influential list of people. She is in my opinion the best all around entertainer and she always gives her best on stage. Again this is just my opinion and in truth, comparisons are silly !!

    • DWP says:

      Callas sang at least 2 comic roles (or at least roles in comic operas) “Barbiere” & “Turco in Italia”. She championed Gluck, was well-known early in her career as Kundry, Isolde, Norma & Turandot and sang dramatic works on the same recital programs as light coloratura repertoire; she was certainly versatile.

      • Tristan says:

        Thank you! Here are so many ignorants around! no wonder as most critics are and even managers of major opera companies. Not one singer ever sang a wide repertoire like Callas except Domingo who sadly has become an embarrassment but still asked even by places like Salzburg and Bayreuth….best example for our standards AND bad taste

        • Richard Allen says:

          I agree with you regarding Domingo. I was in Bayreuth last month when he was conducting Die Walkure and when he appeared onstage to accept applause was loudly booed much to his obvious surprise. It’s all anyone talked about during the intermission was how bad the conducting was. Some were even chatting that he had decided to pass the baton to an assistant for the final act and sit it out till the curtain call where my fellow attendees booed vociferously.

  • Florestan83 says:

    I’m currently listening to the broadcast of this cast. They all sound abominable. Anna’s vibrato is wider than the Grand Canyon and her intonation would give any music teacher a worry. Rachvelishivili’s middle is slowly collapsing and the break in her voice is huge. The rest of the cast is even worse and more pedestrian than these two second class leads. Not a good performance.

    • M McAlpine says:

      Don’t know what broadcast you were listening to but the two female leads were outstanding even if the rest of the cast was so-so, especially the tenor. You might need to adjust your set?

    • Hans says:

      Maybe you need an ear doctor? Rachvelishvili middle is collapsing? Or just joking?