Gevalt! Anna Netrebko sings Yiddish

Gevalt! Anna Netrebko sings Yiddish


norman lebrecht

November 22, 2020

It’s a lullaby by Avrom Goldfaden, and very beautiful too.

Who knew?


  • CYM says:

    I don’t know if Anna is Jewish or not, or if her Yiddish diction is correct, but what a beautiful voice !!!
    – Certainly doesn’t deserve the negative ‘Gevalt’ wording at beginning of this post …

  • JBL says:

    Thank you for letting us know that she sings in Yiddish–without the captation I wouldn’t be able to undestand one single word.
    This version sound more like a Russian-Orthodox liturgy sang by the Cossacks before sacking the shetetel rather than a Jewish lullaby.

    • CYM says:

      Disagree. Russian Orthodox liturgy music is a totally different medium.
      For me, this clip sounds like a lullaby set in a shetetel…

        • V.Lind says:

          I’ve always seen it as “shtetl.” As it is a transliteration, I daresay there are options.

          • George Zeliger says:

            Shtetele means a small shtetl in Yiddish. Or it is a caressing form used, for example, when someone is describing some sentimental recollections about happy childhood.

          • diminutive and loving form….listen to the song Belz,mein shtetele Belz

          • H.Richmond says:

            There are options, you are correct. (In the nostalgic glow with which most people think about Yiddish, there aren’t any though.) ‘Shtetele’ is a diminutive of ‘shtetl’ (which itself is a diminutive of ‘shtot’ – town). In most literature written about the Pale of Settlement, the word used to describe small Jewish villages is ‘shtetl’.

    • I was born into a Yiddish as a first language family, and Yiddish is my mother tongue. I strongly disagree with you.

      • CYM says:

        Great. I won’t argue with your upbringing in a Yiddish culture.
        – But I do disagree if you say that the clip sounds like Russian Orthodox music, and disagree as well stating that it doesn’t sound like a lullaby.

    • George Zeliger says:

      Not even remotely Russian-Orthodox liturgy. Anna is not Jewish; she was born and grew up in the region of Russia, the population of which is rather anti-Semitic, so her choice of the song is quite remarkable.

  • NN says:

    Very beautiful song and singing. The correct name of this Jewish lullaby is “Schlof sche, mein Vögele”. Netrebko’s recording was released in 2008 on her Souvenirs album

    • V.Lind says:

      So: a lot of people knew.

    • George Zeliger says:

      More precisely, it should be “she”, not “sche”. This is a particle borrowed and incorporated into Yiddish from the surrounding Russian or Ukrainian languages. The meaning it transmits is some kind of nudging, like “fall asleep already”.

      • interesting. we had a neighbor who used to say vus she…..which means what “already” also he used to zog she which means speak “already” could be a location dialect. Max was from the Russian side of Poland… Borschz.

  • Bloom says:

    Wonderful. I like how the dense darkness of the voice is gradually transfigured, toward the end of those long lines, into sweetness. There s tragedy there, but also ambiguous consolation.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Beautiful, I love her voice and the way she colours it. No idea what she was singing about but still..

    • Sleep, my little bird,
      close your eyes,
      sleep, my child, sleep!
      Malach the good will be your guardian
      will stand by you til the morning
      with his wings, on your cradle,
      he will cover you softly.
      Sleep in peace, you shall not know
      of any sorrow.
      Sleep, my dear child!
      Close your eyes, my dear little bird,
      sleep long and ().

  • IP says:

    I suppose in the same way as she sings Italian, French, German etc.: kak papugaichick, i.e. as a little parrot. Self-confessed.

  • fred says:

    again this song is not by Goldfaden !!!!

  • Melisande says:

    Text in the picture:
    Über dein Wiegele, deckt er still dich zu.

  • Mike Deychman says:

    I can’t be a judge of her Yiddish but such a performance…

  • George Zeliger says:

    In my previous comment the phone automatically changed “zheh” (instead of “sche”) to “she” without my knowledge and authorization.

  • Helen says:

    Anna has mastered her German-lyrics operatic repertoire & resides in Vienna, so this Yiddish song, with its simple lullaby verse, should predictably not pose any problem for her in terms of language. Even those not speaking Yiddish, but having basic German vocabulary, would be able to understand it. It sounds pretty much like East European German dialect to me. You don’t have to be Jewish to have proper Yiddish pronunciation & intonation. In this world of prejudice, I applaud Anna for having confidence & courage to enrich her operatic repertoire in this unusual, beautiful way.

  • Stuart Blickstein says:


  • Lana Đurić Buechler says:

    Yiddish songs are beautiful. Should be better known outside our Jewish communities. These songs influenced XX century music so much.