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It was a crazy day as I had a morning meeting which lasted late and so after a mad drive into the city, ended up sitting at the West 56th street exit as the overture began. However, made it to the house in time for scene ii of Act 1.
I have never seen Ms. Netrebko in person, I have listened to the Sirius broadcast and also in her previous appearances. Also, one caveat – this role was in my rep so I am a bit biased.
To start with I agree with the Opera-l poster who compared Ms. Netrebko to Vivien Leigh – he was spot on; I kept wondering who she reminded me of. Think of GONE WITH THE WIND – and if you watched her expressions via binocs you would see many of those sly coy looks used with such great effect by VL.
Ms. Netrebko really is a stage ANIMAL – and is VERY ALIVE. So much unlike many singers who appear on the Met stage who seem AFRAID of anything other than getting the notes and words out – after all the pressure to sing at the MET is great BUT and its a big one – you might as well THROW yourself into it – and SHE DOES!
I believe that is what audiences are responding to – she moves, she flings herself to the floor, she dashes up and down stairs, she crouches, she REACTS, she RESPONDS – she is not a STONE statue – and that is VERY compelling to watch. Watching her closely with binoculars (I was in the Dress Circle for Ii and in the Balcony front row for II and III) she is totally committed to EVERY moment – which I want from anyone I am watching on stage (opera or straight drama or musical, whatever).
[Its also ACTING 101 basic technique and it always kills me that many singers just don’t get this – all you have to do is REACT to what is being said to your character -in REAL TIME – no “ACTING” required – just REACT which of course means to listen to what the other character says or the Music (because in opera that is where many of your clues are). ok. here endeth the acting lesson. ]
Anyway, I think that Ms. Netrebko is a very good actress – as for the singing – well… Its a lovely voice and I do like it better in the House. Yes, the singing technique is flawed (and she REALLY needs to work those runs) and, yes, this is not THE role for her – but you know it was ok . If her commitment to the character had been any less, I would have been bothered more by the singing flaws. Her personality and charisma don’t hurt either and as for physical looks – she is simply gorgeous and knows it and uses it.
And she did inspire Eric Cutler to much more passionate singing than i have heard from him . As for the rest of the cast, there were moments: the end of Act II DID come thru ok – but I still felt a languor from the rest of the cast . So often I feel like SHAKING singers to WAKE them up – I just wish more of them would let go and relax into what they are doing and not worry so much, because it really translates into the performance. I imagine much of that is the PRESSURE (and this list is a good example) of singing a (god forbid) wrong note or going sharp or flat. IMHO I would much rather PASSION and COMMITMENT to the performance than ALL the right correctly produced notes in all the right places (and yes, I believe you have to learn the role cold and then … well let the performance adrenaline take over). I am not of the school that perfection can EVER be obtained, give me the emotion anytime.
As for the conducting – not my most favorite ever but I was really focusing on AN and it didnt bother me, I will have to listen again to the bdcast.