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Amata dalle tenebre (Anna Netrebko)

Anna Netrebko (soprano); Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly (DG)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Amata dalle tenebre
Arias by Cilea, Puccini, Purcell, R Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Wagner
Anna Netrebko (soprano); Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala/Riccardo Chailly
DG 486 0531   65:59 mins


Formidable. That is the word that seems best to describe Anna Netrebko on the threshold of her 50s. The voice is weighty, muscular and so dark-hued as to be almost contralto-like in timbre; the characterisation is never less than forthright. In this, her first solo album in five years, she presents arias from operas by Wagner, Verdi, Puccini, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Cilea and Purcell, all of whose heroines enter ‘the realm of darkness’.

There is no doubting Netrebko’s musical commitment, though some roles fit better than others. She is commanding as Elisabetta (Don Carlo), a role she added to her stage repertoire only last year, and in the meaty German roles: judging by the transcendent Liebestod that concludes the disc, ravishingly supported by the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, her Isolde would be something to behold. Dido’s Lament, stylistically removed from the other tracks and indistinct in pronunciation, seems a bit left field.

In ‘Ritorna vincitor’ (Aida), Netrebko is intimidating, irate, occasionally inclined to rush. In ‘Un bel dì’ (Madama Butterfly) she sounds too severe, giving the aria heft but insufficient heart. She excels in numbers that demand a certain spare froideur: Lisa’s scene and arioso from Pique Dame; Manon Lescaut’s desolate ‘Sola, perduta, abbandonata’; and, above all, ‘Poveri fiori’ (Adriana Lecouvreur) – superlatively atmospheric in this reading.

Mood-wise, the album’s ‘darkness’ can seem a little relentless in a single sitting. But it will offer catharsis if you’re feeling melancholy, overwrought or downright furious. Sit back, pour yourself a cup of very bitter coffee, and indulge.


Alexandra Wilson