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Subject: Re: The Most Important Soprano Since Callas and Sutherland?
From: Dennis Ryan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:[log in to unmask]
Date:Sun, 31 Jul 2016 23:38:53 -0400

text/plain (134 lines)

Hi, Y'all!  
    One of the great difficulties in assessing Anna  Netrebko's career and 
its influence is that she has had at least three  careers--so far.  She 
first rose to Western prominence as a Russian  soprano, who quite ably handled 
many of the Russian roles she was frequently  singing at the Marinsky (and 
elsewhere in Russia,)  and many of these  performances "spilled over" to 
productions in the West.  She then tackled  the bel canto repertory, and I don't 
believe that any knowledgeable opera fan  would consider that portion of her 
career particularly successful.  (I,  myself, rated both her Elvira in "I 
Puritani" and her Lucia as totally  misbegotten efforts, and her Anna Bolena 
as no better than satisfactory--keeping  firmly in mind that "satisfactory" 
in that particularly difficult opera is  NOT chopped liver.  But I think 
that most of her public breathed a  not-so-silent sigh of relief when she gave 
up her announced attempts at  "Norma.")  Nevertheless, she was given several 
opening nights at the Met in  roles she COULD sing well and was justly 
praised for, and much of her status as  a "star" rests on those successes.  
(People who did not hear her bel canto  efforts tend to rate her highly on the 
strength of her being given those  plum assignments at all, and not on the 
strength of how she sang  them.)  Now she SAYS that she is ready for spinto 
weight roles.  The  first hints of what this change in her direction may bring 
appear promising  (i.e., her Lady Macbeth), but the large majority of the 
opera world has yet to  hear her in these roles, even as she garners 
something of a reputation as an  "important and dominant" singer just for having 
been cast in them.  
    Her poor bel canto performances, therefore, have  spawned most of the 
negative assessments Camner speaks of--and the fact  that many of these 
efforts occurred in productions that found wide public  disfavor did not help.  I 
do not find these negative assessments  "wildly inaccurate" at all.  On the 
other hand, I have found many of her  subsequent performances to be quite 
strong and thoroughly enjoyable.  She  has clearly EARNED the right to be 
cast in several of the roles she has  upcoming.  How important and dominant 
these will allow her to become is  something we are all waiting to hear.  But 
to consider her as "important  and dominant" an opera soprano as "Callas and 
Sutherland" is simply hot air from  a "Netrebko fanantic."  She clearly has 
YET to earn that status, and when  and IF that status comes, the comparison 
will very likely not be with a bel  canto diva like Callas and Sutherland.  
    Dennis Ryan 
In a message dated 7/31/2016 8:13:40 P.M. Central Daylight Time,  
[log in to unmask] writes:

Mr.  Camner wrote (in part):

"A perusal of Opera-L comments on Anna Netrebko  reveal wildly inaccurate 
and hugely 
negative assessments of the singer who  has firmly established herself as 
the most 
important and dominant opera  soprano since the days of Callas and 

While I may agree  Netrebko can be looked upon as today's undisputed queen 
of opera,  
pronouncing her the most important and dominant soprano since Callas is  
Netrebko will probably never have the following that,  say, Leontyne Price 
- who at age 57 
was still selling out the cavernous  Met in a way even not even Nebs can 
today.  Other 
names who spring to  mind are Beverly Sills or Teresa Stratas, both of whom 
international  headlines as well as purely musical ones, and who (like them 
or not) were as  
known for their tireless charitable work (Sills for the March of Dimes,  
Stratas who moved to 
Calcutta to work for several years with Mother  Theresa).  

I wouldn't even consider Netrebko the most important  Russian soprano since 
the era of 
Callas, since the name Galina  Vishnevskaya comes immediately to the 
forefront in that 
regard, and does  so light years beyond what Ms. Netrebko has shown herself 
capable of  

Compare the two singers in their shared  repertoires, most notably Tatyana 
in Onegin or 
Natasha in War and Peace,  and Vishnevskaya comes out ahead in every 
regard.  Add to this 
roles  we will probably not hear from Netrebko, such as Aida, Tosca, 
Butterfly, Liu,  Katerina 
Ismailova, as well as works outside the operatic spectrum,  including 
Britten's War Requiem, 
the Verdi Requiem, not to mention  composers like Britten and Shostakovich 
who composed 
works specifically  with her in mind.  Vishnevskaya made international news 
in a way  
Netrebko will never do, (and should be grateful for it) and has been the  
subject of 
documentaries, starred in at least two films, including  Alexander 
Sokurov's "Alexandra," 
written for her and chosen by many papers  (including the NY Times) as one 
of the 10 best 
films of 2009.   

I don't begrudge Ms. Netrebko an ounce of her fame, she's fun, her  
audiences love her and 
I've personally enjoyed some of her performances  enormously, but I simply 
don't think 
she'll go down in history with names  like Callas, Sills, Vishnevskaya, 
Nilsson, Price.  At least 
not based  on her body of work thus  far.


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