Discussion:
Anna Netrebko - The New Wagnerian Soprano
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Peter
2016-06-01 06:41:27 UTC
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Now that Anna Netrebko has so very successfully conquered the role of Elsa
in Dresden's Lohengrin, I wonder how long we will have to wait until she
undertakes other Wagnerian roles, and with her well-known ambition will she
perhaps attempt the Walküre Brünnhilde??? I'd love to hear a ringing
"Ho-jo-to-ho" from her.
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-01 12:22:25 UTC
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Post by Peter
Now that Anna Netrebko has so very successfully conquered the role of Elsa
in Dresden's Lohengrin, I wonder how long we will have to wait until she
undertakes other Wagnerian roles, and with her well-known ambition will she
perhaps attempt the Walküre Brünnhilde??? I'd love to hear a ringing
"Ho-jo-to-ho" from her.
Um. Not horrified or anything, but...

Not that she hasn't got something of a voice; I'm still proud I singled her out in the Kirov's Ruslan and Lyudmila in about 1995. And she definitely sounds too big for Mimi and so on now; I was quite impressed when she ditched the microphone at a big outdoor performance and just let her natural voice fill the huge ampitheatre. But I have this feeling Brunnhilde might be a step too far for her, at least if that ambition wants to keep her singing for a while yet. And beyond that she's not the most internal or tender of singers. She's a very glossy exterior with a lot of steel beneath; Brunnhilde needs steel on top and vulnerability beneath.

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2016-06-01 15:18:18 UTC
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Post by Peter
Now that Anna Netrebko has so very successfully conquered the role of Elsa
in Dresden's Lohengrin, I wonder how long we will have to wait until she
undertakes other Wagnerian roles, and with her well-known ambition will she
perhaps attempt the Walküre Brünnhilde??? I'd love to hear a ringing
"Ho-jo-to-ho" from her.
Its a long way from Elsa to Brunnhilde and I'm not sure many sopranos really sang both successfully =- e.g. Nilsson was a wonderful Brunnhilde but her Elsa at Bayreuth in 1954 isn't really right and the same goes for Varnay - the voice was a bit unwieldy for Elsa. The role of Elsa is usually cast too lightly but I'm not quite sure a budding Brunnhilde is the next step. Of course there are exceptions e.g Flagstad sang them both beautifully
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-14 23:39:42 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
Its a long way from Elsa to Brunnhilde and I'm not sure many sopranos really sang both successfully =- e.g. Nilsson was a wonderful Brunnhilde but her Elsa at Bayreuth in 1954 isn't really right and the same goes for Varnay - the voice was a bit unwieldy for Elsa. The role of Elsa is usually cast too lightly but I'm not quite sure a budding Brunnhilde is the next step. Of course there are exceptions e.g Flagstad sang them both beautifully
Indeed, although I always found Flagstad a bit matronly in sound for both, what I've heard of her as Elsa is attractive. But IMHO Elsa belongs to the lighter group of Wagner heroines, as you say. Netrebko impressed me a few years ago at a Berlin concert with Domingo and Villazon, when she ditched the mike and sang straight out into the enormous open-air Waldbuhne auditorium -- and filled it easily. Now I've actually just seen large chunks of her Dresden Elsa (not too bad a production, for today) and she's certainly up to it -- maybe even a little too powerful already. She could manage Elizabeth, I think, and Senta; so perhaps she would become an adequate Brunnhilde before too long, in Walkure and Siegfried at least. However, there are signs the voice is spreading (as indeed, to be a bit ungallant, she is herself) and losing its original purity of tone, which would be s shame. And her acting is pretty externalized, as it was even in her Boheme film; but there's worse around. So it may be worth watching out!

Cheers,

Mike
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-14 23:49:59 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Its a long way from Elsa to Brunnhilde and I'm not sure many sopranos really sang both successfully =- e.g. Nilsson was a wonderful Brunnhilde but her Elsa at Bayreuth in 1954 isn't really right and the same goes for Varnay - the voice was a bit unwieldy for Elsa. The role of Elsa is usually cast too lightly but I'm not quite sure a budding Brunnhilde is the next step. Of course there are exceptions e.g Flagstad sang them both beautifully
Indeed, although I always found Flagstad a bit matronly in sound for both, what I've heard of her as Elsa is attractive. But IMHO Elsa belongs to the lighter group of Wagner heroines, as you say. Netrebko impressed me a few years ago at a Berlin concert with Domingo and Villazon, when she ditched the mike and sang straight out into the enormous open-air Waldbuhne auditorium -- and filled it easily. Now I've actually just seen large chunks of her Dresden Elsa (not too bad a production, for today) and she's certainly up to it -- maybe even a little too powerful already. She could manage Elizabeth, I think, and Senta; so perhaps she would become an adequate Brunnhilde before too long, in Walkure and Siegfried at least. However, there are signs the voice is spreading (as indeed, to be a bit ungallant, she is herself) and losing its original purity of tone, which would be s shame. And her acting is pretty externalized, as it was even in her Boheme film; but there's worse around. So it may be worth watching out!
Cheers,
Mike
Sorry, meant to add after that bit about "the lighter group" that this means lighter in tonal colour primarily, and only to a lesser extent in vocal power. Unfortunately thst's often ignored and the role taken by clear-voiced sopranos who sound lovely in Euch Luften but can only just about belt out the more heroic passages to unlovely effect. it's not always a disaster; I rather like Karan Armstrong's Elsa on the Bayreuth video opposite Peter Hoffmann, not least because she can act well, and certainly prefer her to the more powerful Eva Marton in the Met video. My ideal, though, would be closer to Karita Mattila, at least as she was when I saw her a few years ago.

Cheers,

Mike


Sieglinde often suffers the same fate. Karan Armstrong's Elsa, on the Bayreuth video opposite Hoffman

a remark to the effect that this unfortunately means the role is often grabbed at by sopranos who can only just make it.
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-14 23:51:11 UTC
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On Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 12:50:00 AM UTC+1, Mike Scott Rohan wrote:

Lord, sorry again, a note got left on the end of that one. Clearly bedtime.

Cheers,

M.
Jay Kauffman
2016-06-14 23:57:45 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
Its a long way from Elsa to Brunnhilde and I'm not sure many sopranos really sang both successfully =- e.g. Nilsson was a wonderful Brunnhilde but her Elsa at Bayreuth in 1954 isn't really right and the same goes for Varnay - the voice was a bit unwieldy for Elsa. The role of Elsa is usually cast too lightly but I'm not quite sure a budding Brunnhilde is the next step. Of course there are exceptions e.g Flagstad sang them both beautifully
Indeed, although I always found Flagstad a bit matronly in sound for both, what I've heard of her as Elsa is attractive. But IMHO Elsa belongs to the lighter group of Wagner heroines, as you say. Netrebko impressed me a few years ago at a Berlin concert with Domingo and Villazon, when she ditched the mike and sang straight out into the enormous open-air Waldbuhne auditorium -- and filled it easily. Now I've actually just seen large chunks of her Dresden Elsa (not too bad a production, for today) and she's certainly up to it -- maybe even a little too powerful already. She could manage Elizabeth, I think, and Senta; so perhaps she would become an adequate Brunnhilde before too long, in Walkure and Siegfried at least. However, there are signs the voice is spreading (as indeed, to be a bit ungallant, she is herself) and losing its original purity of tone, which would be s shame. And her acting is pretty externalized, as it was even in her Boheme film; but there's worse around. So it may be worth watching out!
Cheers,
Mike
Sorry, meant to add after that bit about "the lighter group" that this means lighter in tonal colour primarily, and only to a lesser extent in vocal power. Unfortunately thst's often ignored and the role taken by clear-voiced sopranos who sound lovely in Euch Luften but can only just about belt out the more heroic passages to unlovely effect. it's not always a disaster; I rather like Karan Armstrong's Elsa on the Bayreuth video opposite Peter Hoffmann, not least because she can act well, and certainly prefer her to the more powerful Eva Marton in the Met video. My ideal, though, would be closer to Karita Mattila, at least as she was when I saw her a few years ago.
Cheers,
Mike
Sieglinde often suffers the same fate. Karan Armstrong's Elsa, on the Bayreuth video opposite Hoffman
a remark to the effect that this unfortunately means the role is often grabbed at by sopranos who can only just make it.
I was at opening night of the Lohengrin and Armstrong was severely booed (so much so that Friedrich refused to take a bow) not because she didn't have power but I think the voice was bit ungainly - a quality Elsa should never have. She was very pretty and acted well though. Actually I think Elsa is usually cast too lightly - she must be able to at least appear to stand up to the onsloughts of Ortrud in Act two and she has powerful climaxes at the end of the duet in Act Three. You may laugh but I actually think that a voice like Milanov (disregarding stylistic differences) would have had the proper weight and color
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-16 19:25:07 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
I was at opening night of the Lohengrin and Armstrong was severely booed (so much so that Friedrich refused to take a bow) not because she didn't have power but I think the voice was bit ungainly - a quality Elsa should never have. She was very pretty and acted well though. Actually I think Elsa is usually cast too lightly - she must be able to at least appear to stand up to the onsloughts of Ortrud in Act two and she has powerful climaxes at the end of the duet in Act Three. You may laugh but I actually think that a voice like Milanov (disregarding stylistic differences) would have had the proper weight and color
Blimey. I don't know that much of Milanov -- what comes to mind is that Tosca conducted by the young Alex Gibson at Covent Garden -- but I find it hard to get through the Italianate style and imagine her in Wagner. Nor can I come up with another Italianate voice type that would suit -- except perhaps Eva Turner, and she had a very wide repertoire anyway. Or maybe, just maybe, Mirella Freni. But I do agree with you entirely about the undercasting, perhaps more than I managed to give the impression of doing. I find someone like Cheryl Studer is about right in terms of balancing power and quality, but I prefer Janowitz and Grummer for sheer vocal quality to match the music. I could take a degree of overparting to get that quality right --something slightly otherworldly, especially at the beginning.

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2016-06-16 19:29:30 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
I was at opening night of the Lohengrin and Armstrong was severely booed (so much so that Friedrich refused to take a bow) not because she didn't have power but I think the voice was bit ungainly - a quality Elsa should never have. She was very pretty and acted well though. Actually I think Elsa is usually cast too lightly - she must be able to at least appear to stand up to the onsloughts of Ortrud in Act two and she has powerful climaxes at the end of the duet in Act Three. You may laugh but I actually think that a voice like Milanov (disregarding stylistic differences) would have had the proper weight and color
Blimey. I don't know that much of Milanov -- what comes to mind is that Tosca conducted by the young Alex Gibson at Covent Garden -- but I find it hard to get through the Italianate style and imagine her in Wagner. Nor can I come up with another Italianate voice type that would suit -- except perhaps Eva Turner, and she had a very wide repertoire anyway. Or maybe, just maybe, Mirella Freni. But I do agree with you entirely about the undercasting, perhaps more than I managed to give the impression of doing. I find someone like Cheryl Studer is about right in terms of balancing power and quality, but I prefer Janowitz and Grummer for sheer vocal quality to match the music. I could take a degree of overparting to get that quality right --something slightly otherworldly, especially at the beginning.
Cheers,
Mike
The problem I have with Janowitz in the Kubelik is that she is so dull - nice sound alright but where is the quick femininity, the impulsiveness, the spontaneity. Its all so studied and staid. She frankly bores me in the role
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-16 20:02:07 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
The problem I have with Janowitz in the Kubelik is that she is so dull - nice sound alright but where is the quick femininity, the impulsiveness, the spontaneity. Its all so studied and staid. She frankly bores me in the role
Shame, but that's taste. Some people have always found her boring, and certainly she was a very stately actress on stage, tall and (relatively) trim but not active or vivid. However, I don't find that in her voice, especially in the Karajan Walkure Act 1 and as Elsa, where I hear ample eagerness and tension as required, and ecstatic transcendence. But it's not something one can dissect and point to; one hears it, or one doesn't. I'll certainly agree that there are more exciting singers!

Cheers,

Mike
Jay Kauffman
2016-06-17 00:20:30 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
Post by Jay Kauffman
The problem I have with Janowitz in the Kubelik is that she is so dull - nice sound alright but where is the quick femininity, the impulsiveness, the spontaneity. Its all so studied and staid. She frankly bores me in the role
Shame, but that's taste. Some people have always found her boring, and certainly she was a very stately actress on stage, tall and (relatively) trim but not active or vivid. However, I don't find that in her voice, especially in the Karajan Walkure Act 1 and as Elsa, where I hear ample eagerness and tension as required, and ecstatic transcendence. But it's not something one can dissect and point to; one hears it, or one doesn't. I'll certainly agree that there are more exciting singers!
Cheers,
Mike
I'm always willing to give it another try.
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-21 00:35:37 UTC
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Post by Jay Kauffman
I'm always willing to give it another try.
Always a good idea, but I wouldn't be surprised if you felt the same -- why should every singer strike people the same way? The more individual the listener, the less likely he is to conform to the norm, and to find different aspects appeal. I heard Janowitz in Ariadne auf Naxos, just after the Karajan Act 1, and found her heart-stoppingly passionate; but it's a radically different kind of passionat expression from, say, Leontyne Price in the same role. Maybe I'm just a colder fish, in which case I flap my gills in helpless acknowledgement!

Cheers,

Mike
Peter
2016-06-15 04:55:29 UTC
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Now that Anna Netrebko has done such a great job as Elsa, and I hope for
more Wagnerian roles from her, will she finally do Tosca, since at least in
my opinion she would be fabulous in this role?
Peter
2016-06-15 04:57:10 UTC
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Does anyone perhaps know if the Dresden Netrebko Lohengrin was recorded
audibly and/or visually?
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-16 19:27:55 UTC
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Post by Peter
Does anyone perhaps know if the Dresden Netrebko Lohengrin was recorded
audibly and/or visually?
It was broadcast in audio and is available on the "historic" circuit. An earlier staging of this production, which is not bad in its way, with a different case, was video'd "in-house" but by all accounts is appalling. There's a sample of Netrebko on Youtube, though, and a video mayt yet be released.

Cheers,

Mike
Peter
2016-06-16 23:50:28 UTC
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Could you please tell us what "historic circuit" means, and where it can
possibly be found?

Thank you in advance.
Post by Peter
Does anyone perhaps know if the Dresden Netrebko Lohengrin was recorded
audibly and/or visually?
It was broadcast in audio and is available on the "historic" circuit. An
earlier staging of this production, which is not bad in its way, with a
different case, was video'd "in-house" but by all accounts is appalling.
There's a sample of Netrebko on Youtube, though, and a video mayt yet be
released.

Cheers,

Mike
Mike Scott Rohan
2016-06-21 00:57:08 UTC
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Post by Peter
Could you please tell us what "historic circuit" means, and where it can
possibly be found?
Thank you in advance.
It simply means the network of dealers and fans who circulate unofficial, royalty-free copies of performances of historical value. A euphemism for "pirate", in fact, and I have some qualms about it. I am not exactly wild about the unauthorized copies of my books littering the Net -- mostly Eastern European and malware-ridden. However, the situation with these recordings, taken mostly from broadcasts or sometimes recorded "in-house", is slightly different. If they were normally released, most people wouldn't pay much for them, even with better mastering etc., certainly not enough to make the release economic. And many "historic" performances which have been professionally released, have only been preserved through the unofficial circuit -- the Goodall Mastersingers, for example, whose BBC master tape turned out to be corrupted. So I think fan circulation is a good thing (keeps you cool) and I have no quarrel with reasonable dealers such as Premiere Opera and Opera Depot -- but they don't do any Goodall Tristans, alas...

Cheers,

Mike

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