Netrebko backs out of Salome

Netrebko backs out of Salome


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2020

She was due to attempt the role at the Met in 20-21. Now she won’t.

Wonder why.



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  • FrauGeigerin says:

    Wondering why? Really? I think it is obvious: it is too demanding for Netrebko.

    • Olassus says:

      To you and to sceptic Norman: anyone who can sing Lady Macbeth, Aida and Turandot will have no trouble at all (musically) with Salome.

      • Albert Horne says:

        Because singing dramatic Verdi and Puccini roles automatically makes you a good Salome????!!!

        • Olassus says:

          No, a good Salome needs command of the lengthy German text and its sly, ironic, teenage-brattish remarks. But nobody here should be implying Netrebko lacks the vocal chops for the role.

      • Christopher says:

        “Sing” Turandot? You mean scream and survive it?

      • Jay says:

        You are correct anyone who can sing LadyMacbeth Aida and Turandot should have no trouble with Salome , you’re not implying that this lady sang them as much as screamed her way through the roles.Salome is way beyond her
        limited abilities..who is the overweight guy ?

    • sopranino says:

      agreed, she doesn’t have the chops for it, as I think her recordings of Lady Macbeth, etc have adequately proved

  • Jonathan says:

    Opera companies these days plan 4-5 years in advance in the hopes of attracting the big box-office names necessary to fill seats.

    When singers sign contracts it is often to sing repertoire they hope to develop into. Ms. Netrebko has decided for whatever reason that Salome has demands that she will not be able to fulfill and has made the responsible decision, more than a year in advance, to bow out of the production. This happens all the time in the opera world — Nothing to see here.

    • A.L. says:

      Those demands include not speaking or knowing the German language, no less, even after living in Austria for over a decade. It is the reason her Elsas were not genuine due to the fact that they had to be teleprompted so she could get through them.

      • Yes Addison says:

        Bingo, A.L. It was an optimistic (that is, “bad”) role choice for her from the start, because that Wilde-derived libretto has a lot of words in her worst language, of those she’s sung. I don’t think the music was beyond her, but Netrebko, Strauss, Wilde, and audiences are better off with this reversal. There are better existing Salomes and potential Salomes in the world, and more congenial things for her to do.

      • Jonathan says:

        1. Many singers do not speak all languages they sing in.
        2. Prompting is a normal part of opera

        • Bruce says:

          Yes, but it’s wrong when she does it…

          I remember a story of Callas (I think?) bending down during her ovation and giving one of her roses to the prompter in his box. (If not Callas, then some other legend)

          • Helden Sopran says:

            That was Marton during her run as Elsa in 1985 at the Met, Hofmann and Rysanek. It was recently seen on the free Met videocasts, it’s also available on Met on Demand and DVD

    • Harold says:

      Quite right. She did the same with Norma after being contracted and then decided it was too boring musically to do.

      • Eric says:

        Norma musically boring? That really says a lot about her intrinsic lack of good taste, quite apart from the instagram photos.

    • againstbigotry says:

      Sorry, Mr. Letts, but this is why Netrebko ostensibly has MANAGEMENT to advise her and to help her plan her career. We all know Anna could likely get through Salome, as she manages through Turandot, Lady Macbeth, and Tosca, but we all know she tends to sign contracts for roles without having really studied them. Norma, Marguerite, and now Salome. Sure, more than a year’s notice is certainly better than what she gave for Marguerite (like six weeks’ notice) and Norma (four months’ notice), but it’s really not great when she’s signed a contract for a new role for an OPENING NIGHT.

  • Phf655 says:

    Salome was scheduled for 21-22. Her Elsa, recently available on a free internet stream, was pretty poor. Arguably, Salome requires more vocal heft.

  • John Borstlap says:

    My fly on the wall informs me that she found-out that the director had a drastically-realistic Regietheater idea for both St John’s beheading, and the murder of Salome at the end of the work, which she rightfully considered physically threatening for herself and her collegue the bariton who could loose his life under the ax.

    • Joe Pearce says:

      It doesn’t require more vocal heft than Lady Macbeth, both Verdi Leonoras, and Tosca. Some very successful Salomes had little vocal heft at all – Ljuba Welitsch, Liselotte Enck, Maria Cebotari, Caballe, Behrens, etc., and arguably Welitsch was the defining Salome of the 20th Century. And Strauss really did want Schumann to sing the role, albeit with a smaller orchestration.

      • Helden Sopran says:

        Behrens was the reigning Brunnhilde at such small places as the Metropolitan Opera (11 years), the San Francisco Opera, the Munich Opera, Vienna State Opera, Teatro Colon and at the Royal Albert Hall for God’s sake. And sang Brunnhilde for a total of 19 years from 1983 at Bayreuth to 2002 in Vienna. She also sang Elektra, and Isolde the world over, all of that under conductors of the scale of Solti, Sawallisch, Boehm, Abbado, Levine, von Dohnanyi, Bernstein, Haitink, Maazel and von Karajan! How can you compare her to Cebotari or Welitsch, or Caballe even who was not even a spinto. Repeating the same ignorant canards from 30 years ago does not make them true!

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Benighted directors…it’s all in the music, stupid.

  • christopher storey says:

    It would have needed to be the Dance of the Twenty One Veils

  • Bogda says:

    She was scheduled to sing Salome at the Bolshoi in 20/21 not at the Met

  • Save the MET says:

    She’s 49 years old and the current MET production requires nudity. She’s no longer the lithe ballet dancer she was when she started. My best guess knowing her is it has nothing to do with the score and everything to do with vanity and not wanting to destroy the illusion of reduction that custom tailored clothing supplies.

    • Brian says:

      Good point. Karita Matilla raised some eyebrows when she went full monty in that production many years ago. I believe she was in her 40s but still pretty fit.

    • “Older” and PROUD! says:

      Attitudes like yours “Save the MET” are precisely why AGE discrimination laws are necessary for BOTH female and male singers!

      • Maddalena di Coigny says:

        Her age has NOTHING to do with her ability to sing and perform the role. Ageism is still prevalent in opera.

      • Save the MET says:

        Has nothing to do with ageism and everything to do with her personal vanity. They hired her, she thought twice and backed out. You read my post entirely wrong. I know her and how she thinks.

    • Bogda says:

      She was supposed to sing in a new production staged by Claus Guth – already shown at Deutsche Oper Berlin. She’s specifically agreed on the production (and no there is no nudity in that production). The production (like Aida and Lohengrin) are coproductions with the Bolshoi. Knowing audience in both theaters there is no way anything “problematic” would be shown

  • John Kelly says:

    OK, maybe we can have Asmik Grigorian do all the performances…………..

  • Martin Carpenter says:

    ==Karita Matilla raised some eyebrows when she went full monty

    You can raise your own eyebrows by checking out on Google Images.

  • M McAlpine says:

    Wonder why? Amazing how we want to know things which aren’t any of our business!

  • Jared says:

    Listen to her Four Last Songs online (15 seconds should suffice). In addition to the missing vocal talent, there is no study of the language or style. The wobble seems to come naturally, however. She couldn’t sing Salome.

    Mattila was incredible (especially the first run), but even she said a performance of it was very demanding.

  • Helden Sopran says:

    Wonder if she had the good sense to listen to this Great Recording of the Century, and realized she had neither the radiant upper extension nor the sovereign command of the language:

  • Paul Capon says:

    I wonder if she might be more suited for the French Version of Salome which Richard Strauss wrote for Paris in 1907? It was also the original language of Wild’s play which was then translated into German for Strauss. Karen Huffstodt sang the role on Ken Nagano’s 1991 recording.

    • Joe Pearce says:

      Just as a point of information, does everyone know that it was Mike Nichols’ grandmother who translated the Wilde play into German for Strauss?

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Seems a very sensible decision

  • Karl says:

    It is shocking how this woman has put on weight. She was such a delicate beauty just ten years ago. Now she seems determined to follow in Pavarotti’s footsteps – without the talent, unfortunately. What’s the Russian word for diet?

    • Joe Pearce says:

      You are quite wrong. Netrebko put on that weight at least 10 years back when she had her first child. When she came back to the Met, she was a great deal heavier than she is now and looked positively dreadful in the mid-19th century clothing they gave her to wear as Lucia. She is no sylph now, granted, but no heavier today than were wonderful singing actresses like Leonie Rysanek and Zinka Milanov in their best years. Take a look at Karita Mattila when she won that first Cardiff Singer of the World contest almost 40 years back. They ate well in Finland.