A 2020 sold-out house for Netrebko looks like this

A 2020 sold-out house for Netrebko looks like this


norman lebrecht

June 22, 2020

Anna Netrebko sang her first Verdi Elisabetta in a ‘sold-out’, safely distanced Dresden Semperoper this weekend.

Choose your adjective: surreal, bizarre, tragic, poignant, peculiar, perverse, counter-intuitive, half-crazy.


  • Prommer says:

    Sadly, though full marks for effort and good practice for a new role for her, it didn’t really work, for this grandest of grand Verdi operas. The musical accompaniment was comically plinkety-plonk at certain junctures.

  • M Volpe says:

    Subsidies in Germany make that possible to even contemplate. There will be no underwriting of such things in the UK and I think the industry needs to understand that.

  • Straussian says:

    Adjectives? All of the above. My brain tells me it’s the new normal, but my heart tells me – how sad, a nearly empty house…

  • Paul Dawson says:

    I’d love to know her candid (i.e. not PR dictated) view of how it feels to sing with such a sparse, safely-distanced, audience.

    • Brian says:

      Judging by her Instagram missives, she tends to align with the Putin/Trump school of thought: the virus is a bunch of hype and we should be letting businesses fully reopen, never mind public health concerns (and never mind the aged status of much of opera’s fan base).

      • Edgar says:

        Traviata is the only option in a full house: the heroine dying of COVID-19. Or Mimi. I don’t know of an opera in which the male hero dies of consumption or other lung disease.

        Hoping for a grand Götterdämmerung in DC on November 3…

  • jay says:

    Lunacy however you view it………….
    Arrogance of second rate minds

  • José Bergher says:

    “HALF-crazy”? No! Rather, GROISE meshuga.

  • david hilton says:

    My adjective is “lovely”

    It is such a British (sorry, I am one) reaction to form only negative reactions to something new and untested. I simply do not understand why this Dresden performance is not welcomed as something creative, good to have, and praiseworthy.

    Anna Netrebko singing — somewhere, somehow — is clearly better than Anna Netrebko not singing.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    The adjectives I choose are depressing and soul destroying.

    How can anyone believe that this is acceptable at any level? I am not referring to the effort and the commitment of all those concerned and it shows that they are trying under impossible conditions to keep theatres and performance alive. But having said all of that playing to a handful of audience members in stripped down versions of works designed to be the exact opposite must be soul destroying for audience and performers alike.

    I’m sure that those attending on both sides of the lights would disagree at the moment and anything I suppose could be considered better than nothing, but 3 months, 6 months on and more of this will destroy the thing many want to protect.

    With apologies to all those in Dresden and elsewhere who are valiantly fighting what seems to me a lost cause without knowing what an acceptable alternative could be. But Covid and the carnage, physical, economic and cultural it has wrought makes this seems like more of the beginning of an end that no one has the first idea how to avoid.

    • Thomas Dawkins says:

      Despite people ringing its death knell for centuries, classical art music and opera continue. World wars, plagues, pandemics, fires, floods, earthquakes, depressions, recessions, and oppressive political regimes later, it’s still here, and it will be here when this is over.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    Better to have an empty hall, like the Wignore is doing. The performers can focus on playing for themselves, with us eavesdropping. A visibly, mostly empty hall would be demoralizing to me, if I were a performer.

  • Maria says:

    A joke!

  • Mike Schachter says:

    After the Charge of the Light Brigade a French general remarked : c’est magnifique mais c’est pas la guerre. Rather apt

  • Stuart says:

    It’s a start. Not perfect but why look on this with such negative views. One cynical person who responded to this post sounds like it is the end of the world. It’s not. I’ll take my glass half empty over one that’s empty. And it will be filling up over time. As said, it’s a start. Why go to the dark side?

  • M2N2K says:

    Just one adjective – SAD.

  • Robert says:

    Sad but also
    Yay! Private function!
    They’re literally performing just for you (and a few others) live!
    When and where else has that been possible?!

  • Paul says:

    All of the above.
    And this mainly because I had to read yet another post about the same AN on this website!

  • John Soucy says:

    No vodeo of opera. What can I say?

  • Ernest says:

    Bravi. At least they are trying instead of whinging …

  • batonbaton says:

    one might say it’s the audience she deserves / merits….

  • Nick says:

    Very sad!

  • I am sure it was incredibly moving for those who had the privilege of being there. The piano accompaniment soon may be complemented by reductions for a few instruments, if this continues. It will keep the flame until the vaccine.

  • Eduardo says:

    typical of our times….. what next? as Elliot Carter said….

  • Dennis says:

    Absurd, paranoiac, nuts.

  • Bruce says:

    I don’t see what’s intrinsically sad about a small audience: the people who came obviously want to be there, and will presumably be enthusiastic.

    Of course it’s not a sustainable model for the long term; nobody’s claiming it is. But it’s a little like saying “Joyce DiDonato broke her leg; it was so sad to see her performing in a wheelchair.”

  • Michale says:

    As long as she brought her voice, I wish I had been there.