09 January 2007

NMT: 09 JAN 07 Anna Netrebko - Russian Album

Anna Netrebko - Russian Album

I know what you're thinking, 'That XWL, when is he going to review some Opera?' howabout right now?

Due to problems downloading other albums released today (Andy Dick, and Ultramagnetic MCs) I'm instead going with a review of the new album from Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.

The nature of this disc differs from previous albums I've covered so instead of a song by song breakdown, just an overview (anyone purchasing this album is unlikely to just buy her version of Pimpinella, per se)

(Though, come to think of it, Pimpinella would be a fantastic name for a Rap singer)

(if Anna ever considers doing a rap side project, let me be the first to suggest that she go by the name Lady Pimpinella)

Back to the album, it's a Deutsche Grammophon release, which usually means quality production values, and in this case no different.

As the title implies, all the selections are from Russian composers (Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glinka, and Prokofiev), it's an excellent match of vocal style and composition.

I personally prefer Russian as a language for opera singing over Italian or German, the mixture of guttural and lyrical within the Russian tongue gives it the right mix. Italian can get too lyrical, while German is far too guttural. Russian, when it comes to opera singing, is the Goldilocks language, just right. Plus I'm a sucker for those 19th and early 20th century Russian composers, they kicked some serious ass.

Every song is in Russian, and she sounds right at home singing in her native tongue. I assume she's equally capable in singing in the other languages most operas are sung, but she definitely sounds like she's within her comfort zone singing these songs.

One problem with these 'just the highlights' compilations is that it's one big moment after another. Taken out of their context some of these compositions can come off as being overwrought.

If you like this stuff, this is an easy album to recommend, the Rachmaninov she sings is particularly moving (Rachmaninov, does indeed Rach!).

I haven't been to the Opera in a long time, but if she performs a Russian Opera with the LA Opera again, I may be tempted.

Is it inconsistent for me to rail against screechy broadway style pop and praise opera?

I don't think so, for one, the volume control, runs and range exhibited by opera singers is honed to such a fine point that it comes across as vocal athleticism rather than showy theatrics. Also, these compositions support the vocals much better, whereas that crappy pop singing tends to work against the compositions, rather than with them.

And for the fellas out there, here's a photo of Ms. Netrebko (does it matter that she's also a hottie?)

This has little to do with this album, but here's a music video of Anna Netrebko singing an Aria from Don Giovanni (It's very Mozart meets MTV circa 1983, but it works).

And reading more about her around the net, she seems to be a bit of a polarizing figure, she's the opera singer folks love to hate at the moment.

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