Saturday, June 28, 2014

Worldwide debut of Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth at the Opera Festival in Munich

Report and photos by:

Last night Anna Netrebko sang her first Lady Macbeth ever (worldwide!) at the Opera Festival in Munich.

Together with Simon Keenlyside (Macbeth), Joseph Calleja (what a luxury for the comparatively small role as Macduff!) and Ildar Abdrazakov (Banco) she was the star of the evening and enjoyed a very big success.

One may discuss the production by Martin Kusej. To me the first part was very static, whereas in the second part masses of people crowded the stage, sometimes in underwear, sometimes in uniform, sometimes naked - and the costumes are at least not a stroke of genius by a dress designer.

The same can be said about Anna's red-blonde wig. But you can forget all this when you see Lady Macbeth acting together with her husband or when you listen to Anna's vocal eruptions which brought the house down.

Having heard her now in Il Trovatore, in Manon Lescaut and in Macbeth, I can't believe that she once sang the roles of Adina in Elisir d'amore or Amina in La Sonnambula. What an impressive and unbelievable development of her voice! Her acting, too, is very convincing - as far as the production allows it. Whether she has to balance and sing (!) on a giant chandelier or to walk (in high heels) across a large field of white skulls - she is "the lady".

Standing ovations and many curtain calls for Anna and the whole cast and for conductor Paolo Carignani.

The next and already last performance will be on Tuesday. And then let's look forward to the new Macbeth at the Met in September/October - hopefully director Adrian Noble and his production team will offer a more inspired view of this powerful story than Kusej does.

Some official photos can be seen here.



  1. Thanks for an excellent report, Herbert!

  2. I got a recording from my friend for the first two acts (he made some mistakes and failed to record the last two acts). The intensity and the dynamics was not as much as I would have expected. Of course she could not compare to a true dramatic soprano on these. What seems puzzling is that even with her own standard, I believe she could give more. In the meantime, her singing was sexy and enchanting. It’s that way especially with those coloraturas and trills--there’s no strong attacking one used to hear in these parts of LadyM, instead they were softer, more colorful, and, indeed, sexy. It seems this Lady Macbeth was not a devil so powerful being able to force her husband doing all the murdering, but a woman having sex advantage on her husband that he could not resist what she asked for. Then I called my friend asking how she acted and how was the idea of the production, and all the visual aspects were consistent with what I heard. That’s what I love Anya most—how she sings and how she acts support each other. I think it’s reasonable to assume that’s her intension to sing this way, though it may be arguable whether she did this to avoid the dramatic singing or simply to fulfil the idea of the production. Actually this idea is nothing new in the practice of Verdi’s Macbeth or Shakespeare’s Macbeth, however, this is the only time I heard this idea through one’s singing. For me, this is definitely the most interesting Lady Macbeth after La Callas. And this is what I have always thought about Anya—when you go to listen to her with the stereotype of how the role should be sung, you will be disappointed, however, when you go with an open mind expecting something refreshing, she’s always interesting and exciting.



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