Anna Netrebko: Verismo

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Boito & Ponchielli,Catalani,Leoncavallo,Puccini
LABELS: DG
ALBUM TITLE: Verismo
WORKS: Arias by Cilia, Giordano, Puccini, Leoncavallo, Catalani, Boito & Ponchielli
PERFORMER: Anna Netrebko (soprano), Yusif Eyvazov (tenor); Chorus & Orchestra of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano
CATALOGUE NO: DG 479 5015

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This is not a recital for the fainthearted. Antonio Pappano likes his verismo red in tooth and claw and he has an eager apprentice in the Santa Cecilia Orchestra who, quite simply, get better and better. And both have a willing partner-in-crime in Anna Netrebko. Voices change with age, and as she slips into her prime Netrebko’s tone is richer and rounder and the voice itself more at home in the middle register now yet still with a set of thrilling top notes, even if they sometimes sound snatched, as in Turandot’s ‘In questa reggia’.

Best of all is the hushed intensity that she brings to these verismo arias, whether it’s the dreamy opening to ‘Ebben? Ne andrò lontana’ from Catalani’s Le Wally or Liu’s aria in Turandot ‘Signore Ascolta!’. In her earlier recordings Netrebko seemed somehow detached from the characters that she was singing but now she inhabits them, making them her own. Not every dramatic soprano understands that ‘Vissi d’arte, visi d’amore’ is both a prayer for deliverance as well as an artistic credo. But then Netrebko is collaborating with a conductor with a passion for detail. Who else would make you hear that snatch of Cavaradossi’s aria from Act I in Tosca’s appeal to Scarpia? So right and so painful.

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Christopher Cook