Anna Netrebko | Biography


Anna Netrebko
© Kristian Schuller / DG
“She is unrivalled today in her ability to span the widest melodic arcs, to expand and contract notes with the utmost virtuosity, and to deploy the most delicate pianissimo with absolute self-assurance.”
Der Tagesspiegel (Berlin), March 2020
While singing styles and fashions may vary over time, the qualities required for a singer to be judged as truly great remain eternal. Anna Netrebko was already in possession of many of the necessary attributes when launching her career over twenty-five years ago. She has since gained and perfected the full complement. Her honesty, spontaneous and direct, holds the key to a vast store of emotions and feelings, expressed as naturally in conversation as in song. Small wonder that she has entered the popular mainstream as the very icon of a modern opera singer, a born communicator whose style and stage presence are as celebrated as her musicianship and spellbinding artistry.
Her move in recent seasons into heavier, more complex operatic roles, such as Turandot, Tosca and Elsa (Lohengrin), has delighted audiences and critics, effectively reinforcing her superstar status and highlighting her readiness to take on fresh artistic challenges. In February 2021, in an online interview with Peter Gelb, General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera, Netrebko spoke of the care with which she selects new roles, noting that it is not unusual for sopranos to sing everything from light coloratura roles to dramatic and verismo parts, and adding that she has been preparing those of Abigaille (Nabucco) and Strauss’s Ariadne.  
The rich, darker tones of Anna Netrebko’s voice today were showcased in her Grammy Award-nominated Deutsche Grammophon album Verismo (September 2016), made with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano and featuring extracts from, among others, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Adriana Lecouvreur and Andrea Chénier. The same energy and élan are set to return in Amata dalle tenebre, Netrebko’s first classical solo album for five years, scheduled for release in November 2021. Recorded at La Scala with the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala and its Music Director Riccardo Chailly, the album includes her debut recordings of Wagner’s Liebestod, Verdi’s “Ritorna vincitor!”, Strauss’s “Es gibt ein Reich” and Lisa’s Aria from Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame.
Deutsche Grammophon played a crucial role in developing the soprano’s early recording career and has worked closely with her ever since. Anna Netrebko – Opera Arias, her debut DG album (2003), embraced everything from Mozart’s “Padre, germani, addio!” from Idomeneo to Dvořák’s “Song to the Moon” from Rusalka. It was followed by Sempre libera, Russian Album and critically acclaimed complete recordings of Le nozze di Figaro and La bohème. Other highlights from her first decade as a DG artist include Souvenirs, In the Still of Night (a recital of Russian songs with Daniel Barenboim), Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera and recordings of La traviata, I Capuleti e i Montecchi and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater.
Netrebko’s DG discography grew with DVD/Blu-ray releases of La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, I puritani, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and Anna Bolena, together with a DVD of music videos: Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice. Her Duets CD, with tenor Rolando Villazón, set a record for the best European debut for a classical album and topped the pop charts in several countries. Netrebko returned to the studio in 2013 to record Verdi, an album of solo arias, and displayed her prowess in the Romantic repertoire with full recordings of Eugene Onegin, Giovanna d’Arco and Il trovatore. Other landmark releases include Richard Strauss’s Four Last Songs (2014), with Daniel Barenboim and the Berlin Staatskapelle; Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta (January 2015); Macbeth from New York’s Metropolitan Opera (October 2015); Don Giovanni from La Scala, Milan (November 2015); Manon Lescaut, recorded live at the Salzburg Festival (December 2016); and Romanza, an album of love songs written by Igor Krutoy especially for Netrebko and her husband Yusif Eyvazov (September 2017).
Anna Netrebko has now reigned the opera world for more than two decades. A regular at the Metropolitan Opera since making her company debut in 2002, she has performed no fewer than twenty-two roles on its famous stage and appeared in fifteen of its “Live in HD” transmissions to cinemas worldwide, the most by any artist. As a long-term resident in Vienna, granted Austrian citizenship in 2006, she appears each season at the Vienna State Opera, and is also a frequent guest artist at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, La Scala and the Bavarian State Opera, where she scored notable successes with her role debuts as Lady Macbeth in 2014 and Turandot in 2020.
Other highlights of recent years include her stage debut as Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco in the opening production of La Scala’s 2015–16 season – the work’s first performance there since the mid−1860s; her highly anticipated and critically acclaimed role debut as Elsa at Dresden’s Semperoper in 2016 (released the following year as Deutsche Grammophon’s first Ultra HD 4K opera recording); and further role debuts as Aida at the Salzburg Festival (2017), Maddalena (Andrea Chénier) at La Scala (2017), Tosca at the Met (2018), Leonora (La forza del destino) at Covent Garden (2019) and Elisabetta (Don Carlo) at the Bolshoi (2020).
Following her success as Tosca at this summer’s Salzburg Festival, her future plans include concert performances with Yusif Eyvazov in Vienna, Prague, Madrid and across Russia (September/October); her 50th-birthday gala at the Kremlin (18 September); Nabucco at the Wiener Staatsoper (November: her role debut as Abigaille) and Covent Garden (January 2022); and Macbeth at La Scala (December).
Born in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar in 1971, Anna Netrebko began singing at an early age. She subsequently enrolled to study at the legendary St Petersburg Conservatory where she was discovered by Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre. The conductor helped develop her innate talents and cast Netrebko in a series of small roles at the Mariinsky. Following the success of the twenty-two-year-old’s debut there as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Gergiev made her an integral part of his formidable ensemble company.
Netrebko’s St Petersburg years set deep foundations of technique and stage experience. She went on to make her debut in the United States at San Francisco Opera in 1995, joined its Merola Opera Program the following year and was soon singing at the world’s leading opera houses on tour with her Mariinsky colleagues and increasingly as a guest artist. News and reviews of her unforgettable performance as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the 2002 Salzburg Festival secured Netrebko’s place among the top league of young singers. Almost twenty years later, she has proved her status as a once-in-a-lifetime artist, among the defining operatic voices of our age, having gone on to perform with nearly all the world’s great opera companies, displaying consummate skill and naturalness as she inhabits each new role, which, as well as those already mentioned, include Puccini’s Mimì (La bohème); Verdi’s Violetta (La traviata) and Gilda (Rigoletto); Bellini’s Giulietta (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Elvira (I puritani) and Amina (La sonnambula); Donizetti’s Norina (Don Pasquale), Adina (L’elisir d’amore), Lucia di Lammermoor and Anna Bolena; Massenet’s Manon; Gounod’s Juliette; and Tchaikovsky’s Tatiana (Eugene Onegin) and Iolanta.
Anna Netrebko’s achievements are reflected in the vast array of honours and prizes she has received. In 2005 she was awarded the Russian State Prize, her homeland’s highest award for arts and literature, which was followed three years later by the title of “People’s Artist of Russia”. She performed at the internationally televised opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, and at the opening and closing concerts of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow.
Her comparable standing in Austria was acknowledged in February 2017 when she was granted the distinguished title of Kammersängerin at a ceremony at the Vienna Staatsoper. Ten years earlier she had become the first classical musician to be included in Time magazine’s list of the world’s Top 100 most influential people. Other notable accolades include Musical America’s 2008 “Musician of the Year”; Germany’s prestigious Bambi Award; the UK’s Classic BRIT Award for “Singer of the Year” and “Female Artist of the Year”; four Grammy nominations; eleven ECHO Klassik awards, including “Female Singer of the Year” in 2014 and 2016; “Female Singer of the Year” at the 2017 International Opera Awards; and the 2020 Polar Music Prize and International Stanislavsky Prize. She also serves as global ambassador for Chopard jewellery.