An Engaging Portrait Of Netrebko

The great Anna Netrebko's 10 years at The Met is celebrated in this uneven recording that's let down by varied conducting

Title: ‘Live at the Met’, Anna Netrebko
Composer: Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky
Repertoire: Arias and scenes by Bellini, Donizetti, Gounod, Mozart, Offenbach, Prokofiev, Puccini, Verdi
Artists: Anna Netrebko (sop), Metropolitan Opera Orchestra/Various conductors
Rating:  3/5
Genre: Opera
Label: Deutsche Grammophon 477 9903

The Music: To celebrate Anna Netrebko’s 10 years of singing at the ‘Great Barn’ (more politely known as The Metropolitan Opera in New York), Deutsche Grammophon has released a selection of live highlights recorded during that time. Included are arias from La bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Prokofiev’s War and Peace and the storm scene from Rigoletto.

The Performance: Netrebko is one of the greats, period. Not so much for her voice – which, though beautiful, doesn’t work well in all repertoire – but for her mesmerising dramatic commitment and ability to bring characters to life. That latter quality sizzles through everything she does here. As Norina in Don Pasquale, she’s joyfully flirtatious; as Lucia di Lammermoor, she’s heartbreaking; as Juliette, she’s ecstatic. Her colleagues are hardly slouches either: Juan Diego Floréz, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and Roberto Alagna are all on hand to add further lustre.

The Verdict: This is an engaging portrait of Netrebko–sometimes good, sometimes great – but let down by some varied conducting. Gergiev is terrific in Prokofiev; Plácido Domingo is ham-fisted in Gounod.

Want More? Netrebko’s recent foray into early music is a corker: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (DG, 477 8857).