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Anna Netrebko makes a long-heralded change of artistic direction with Verismo. The album reflects her move from bel canto works that have largely defined her career (never very convincingly to me) to the spinto repertoire. Netrebko’s voice is now richer, the production smoother, the timbre more even through her range. She sails through her arias with aplomb and delineates character well: her Gioconda sounds desperate, her Wally anguished, her Butterfly resolute. She differentiates well vocally between Turandot and Liù. She is truly involved in Act IV of Manon Lescaut, recorded in its entirety, where she is joined by the stentorian but throaty tenor of her husband, Yusif Eyvazov. Misjudgments are few, such as a curious over-anticipation in the opening phrase of the Adriana Lecouvreur aria. Add Antonio Pappano’s conducting of the Santa Cecilia forces, with some truly sumptuous playing, and it’s all rather like being run over by a Rolls Royce. Luxurious but deathly. So, five star vocalising, but a deduction for unadventurous programming and a lack of palpable verismo emotional excess.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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