Sunday, October 22, 2017

Anna Netrebko stops by in Melbourne as a worthy queen of the stage: Herald Sun Review

Published online at Melbourne's Herald Sun, 19th October, and in print 20th October 2017.

Opera lovers around the globe are finally having the privilege of seeing today’s most celebrated diva in live performance on their stages. Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is sharing her gift of voice on a current concert tour in between a demanding schedule at the world’s leading opera houses. It was Melbourne’s fortune last night when the glamorous superstar of opera graced the Hamer Hall stage. Netrebko was radiant, in outstanding form and riveting to watch from the start.

Elchin Azizov, Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov at Hamer Hall
On entrance, Netrebko was all smiles before plunging into Verdi’s turbulent aria of conflicting feelings from Aida, "Ritorna vincitor!" And victorious she was! Demonstrating mesmerising flexibility, it was not only her rich tone, lustrous finish and soaring top that impressed. Making full use of the stage, Netrebko conveyed her character with power and commitment.

Singing a comprehensive and balanced program of mostly Italian opera excerpts, Netrebko dazzled from one to the next with works that reflected not only the more dramatic quality and broadening of the voice, such as a poignant aria from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, but the lighter, more melodic style she illuminated in "Stridono lassù" from Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Netrebko’s effortless control and comfortable presence continued, shining with ethereal and crystalline beauty in Dvořák’s "Song to the Moon" from Rusalka.

But Netrebko wasn’t alone, sharing the limelight with husband Yusif Eyvazov — he is an increasingly successful tenor in his own right and impressing immensely with his toasty, passionate and voluminous Italianate sound. First came a nobly rendered aria from Verdi’s Il trovatore, later a knockout "E lucevan le stelle" from Puccini’s Tosca — to which he signed his own robust signature on — then a gripping and impassioned "Vesti la giubba" from Pagliacci. Alongside his wife, the chemistry palpable, their embrace and kiss added melting expression to Verdi’s "Già nella notte densa" from Verdi’s Otello.

Yusif Eyvazov, Anna Netrebko and Mikhail Tatarnikov
Surprise entry and guest artist Elchin Azizov added to the celebratory three-way mix, his smouldering and firmly buttressed baritone evident. Azizov paired with Eyvazov in a stridently militant duet from Verdi’s Don Carlos, then joined with Netrebko for a romantic, waltzing start to the second half with "Lippen schweigen" from Lehár’s The Merry Widow.

Warm and affectionate, Netrebko shared her enthusiasm all around. Behind her but always acknowledged, the Opera Australia Orchestra sounded glorious in this rare emergence from the pit with exuberant conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov at the helm. Employing spirited tempi, the orchestra responded with layers of plush and relentlessly magnificent orchestral detail.

But it was Netrebko who reigned, matching the ticket prices with a superlative evening that was worthy of her crowned status. In an operatic escapade around some of opera’s best-known arias and duets with a stop by a few lesser-known ones, Melbourne will be begging for more.

Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov
An Evening of Opera Highlights
Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne
18th October 2017


Production photos: Brett Schewitz

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