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BWW Review: Met Concert Shows Netrebko's Got the Technique to Do Anything She Pleases

'Met Stars Live in Concert' Recital includes Tchaikovsky and Strauss, Offenbach and Charpentier, among others

BWW Review: Met Concert Shows Netrebko's Got the Technique to Do Anything She Pleases
Anna Netrebko from concert at
Vienna's Spanish Riding School

I couldn't help but admire Anna Netrebko's taking on many of the pieces that comprised her concert from Vienna's historic Spanish Riding School on February 6, which was part of the Met Stars Live in Concert. They may not have fit her voice to a tee but she almost made you think they did. You can hear it for yourself from the Met's website through February 19.

The first thing I noticed in the set of Rachmaninoff songs--"Lilacs," "Before my window" and "How fair this spot"--that opened the program was how much she was able to scale back her voice to make it sound almost dainty. That's hardly a word that I'd ordinarily think of when describing her pipes which, these days, are so big and dramatic that "Wagnerian" is more like it.

Netrebko ("Trebs") appeared so much at home in the many Russian works that you could forgive her anything. Yet, in some of the other pieces on the program--such as Strauss's "Morgen" and Charpentier's "Depuis le jour" from LOUISE--I couldn't help but think of some of the lighter, luscious voices, such as Fleming, Sills or te Kanawa, that caressed the heck out of them. (Okay, Leontyne Price, who adopted the aria from LOUISE as her own, was not exactly a shrinking violet.)

BWW Review: Met Concert Shows Netrebko's Got the Technique to Do Anything She Pleases
Anna Netrebko and Elena Maximova
at Vienna's Spanish Riding School

Trebs lives in Vienna and her German sounds pretty decent to a non-German speaker like me, in some of the other Strauss songs (the sometimes light and luscious "Die nacht" and "Standchen"). But her French, in Debussy's "Il pleure dans mon coeur," for example, sounded awfully Russian in her delivery--as Russian as her Tchaikovsky.

In his "It was in the early spring," she sounded like the best of her Tatyana in EUGENE ONEGIN, digging deep to the bottom of her voice when called for, and showing off an aspect of it that she hadn't done thus far in the concert. She's definitely at home with Tchaikovsky--more than Rachmaninoff, I think--as she proved with his two other songs on program: The pensive "Nights of Delirium" (the lyrics, "Frenzied nights, sleepless nights.." don't really fit the music) and the urgency of "Amidst the day" at the concert's end.

BWW Review: Met Concert Shows Netrebko's Got the Technique to Do Anything She Pleases
Anna Netrebko and Pavel Nebolsin
from Vienna's Spanish Riding School

We can't forget Trebs' man at the piano, Pavel Nebolsin, when speaking about the excellence of the concert--nor mezzo Elena Maximova, who paired with the soprano on the two duets that were included. While I liked their teamwork on "Belle nuit, o nuit d'amour," better known as the "Barcarolle," (thought it didn't hold a candle to her early pairing with Elina Garanca on the aria) from LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN, they were wonderful together in "Uzh vecher...Oblakov pomerknuli kraya," from Act I, Scene 2, of QUEEN OF SPADES (PIKANOVA DAMA or PIQUE DAME).

Just before the Tchaikovsky, she did the Rimsky-Korsakov "The clouds begin to scatter," which she seemed to just toss off, like mother's milk, even when she lightened her voice halfway through.

One of the things I enjoyed most during the hour and a half was the collage of pieces, shown in one of the intermissions, that Netrebko sang in HD broadcasts from the Met. They showed the breadth of roles she'd undertaken and how her voice had changed from soubrette to dramatic soprano, from Elvira in I PURITANI to Norina in DON PASQUALE to her fabulous Lady Macbeth, as if a bevy of singers had been brought together for these excerpts, rather than one prima donna assoluta.

For more information on the remaining concerts in the series, or to buy tickets for the Netrebko concert, visit the Met's website.

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From This Author Richard Sasanow