It’s no secret that soprano Anna Netrebko is one of opera’s true box office draws: Her performances of Il Trovatore last season were among the few nights the Met was completely sold out. But her new CD, Verismo, reveals she is more than just a star; her performances of arias and scenes from Italian opera highlight an artistry that is both subtle and thrilling.
This new Traviata belongs near the top of the fine recorded versions of the opera despite a serious vocal problem in the middle. The great news is in the casting of the two lovers: Rolando Villazon's Alfredo is just about perfect. He sings with handsome, shaded tone, great attention to the text–his anger feels as real as his grief and passion–and absolute freedom throughout the range.
In 2006, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth, the Salzburg Festival set itself the task of producing all 22 of Mozart's operas, and this recording of highlights from Le nozze di Figaro is a result of a live performance. Nikolaus Harnoncourt's reading of the score is marvelously nuanced; it's clear that the performance reflects a lifetime of living with and performing the opera. His dramatic pace tends toward briskness, which works well in a work as wordy as this. He's especially skillful at bringing out the instrumental colors of the score, particularly of the winds and timpani; he makes the listener especially aware of the inventiveness, cleverness, and subtlety of Mozart's orchestration. The Vienna Philharmonic and Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor perform with finesse, warmth, and sensitivity to the opera's poignancy and humor…
Valery Gergiev directs this Kirov Opera production of Prokofiev’s lyrical comedy. Set in 18th century Seville, Prokofiev’s adaptation of a play by the English playwright Sheridan is an opera buffo par excellence, featuring lovers in disguise, a stern father thwarted, a rich suitor discomfited, venal monks, unreliable servants – and, inevitably, young love triumphant. The cast is led by Anna Netrebko as the beautiful heroine, supported by Larissa Diadkova as her scheming duenna.