Anna Netrebko ‒ Biography

It is rare for an artist to break through the boundaries of classical music stardom and achieve recognition in the wider world, but Anna Netrebko has achieved that and more. In a recording career stretching a mere dozen years she has not only seduced the classical scene with the beauty of her voice, her superb vocal control and supreme musicality, she has also become an interna­tional icon. More than an operatic diva, Anna Netrebko is an enormously charismatic individual whose vivacious style and dazzling stage presence are as celebrated as her musical artistry.

She first started pulses racing with a triumphant Salzburg Festival debut in 2002 as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and has gone on to perform with nearly all the world’s great opera companies. Inhabiting each new role with consummate skill and naturalness, she has made many of them her own, including Mozart’s Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro); Puccini’s Mimì (La bohème) and Manon Lescaut; Verdi’s Violetta (La traviata), Lady Macbeth and Giovanna d’Arco; 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.

Major venues have played host to some of her greatest triumphs. She made her debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera in 2002 and has returned every season since to perform her signature roles, becoming the only soprano to have opened the season in three consecutive years
(2011–13). She returned in autumn 2015 as Leonora in Verdi’s Il trovatore, and her New York performances have been seen by audiences around the world as part of the Met’s “Live in HD” cinecasts. In February 2016 she made a sold-out and critically-acclaimed recital debut at the Met.

Anna Netrebko also appears every season at the Vienna State Opera – she has lived in Vienna for many years and obtained Austrian citizenship in 2006. It was at the Staatsoper that she made her role debut as Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, a performance that was captured on DVD. She reprised the role there in April 2015, returning in October to sing Tatiana. Having made her La Scala debut in 2011 as Donna Anna, she returned to Milan in 2012, giving memorable performances as Mimì that won praise from critics and audiences alike. In December 2015 she opened the La Scala season in a production of Giovanna d’Arco, the work’s first performance there for over 150 years and the first time Netrebko had sung its title role in a staged performance, having first played Giovanna in a concert performance at the 2013 Salzburg Festival. In recent years she has also performed Britten’s War Requiem at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre and at the Salzburg Festival, and made her role debut as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s masterpiece at the Bavarian State Opera.

In 2015 she brought her Mimì to Covent Garden, playing opposite Joseph Calleja’s Rodolfo (her 10 June performance was broadcast to cinemas across the UK and Europe). A highlight of that year’s concert schedule was a joint performance with Jonas Kaufmann, Thomas Hampson, Ildar Abdrazakov and Elena Zhidkova in an open-air concert at Munich’s Königsplatz in June.

Another major recent highlight was Netrebko’s enthusiastically acclaimed role debut as Elsa in Lohengrin, with Piotr Beczala in the title role, conducted by Christian Thielemann at the Dresden Semperoper, with subsequent performances at the Mariinsky in St Petersburg, under the baton of Valery Gergiev. She also made triumphal appearances as Manon Lescaut in Vienna, as well as giving concerts and recitals at some of the world’s most prestigious venues, in the US, Asia and across Europe.

Her future plans include her latest return to the Met, this time as Manon Lescaut (November / December 2016), and appearances as Lady Macbeth at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich (December 2016). Before that, she will give three concert performances of Manon Lescaut at this summer’s Salzburg Festival, starring opposite her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, with whom she will also give concerts in Hamburg and Cologne as a prelude to the 2 September launch of Verismo, her latest album for Deutsche Grammophon. 

Verismo, recorded with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano, highlights to perfection the most recent developments in Anna Netrebko’s ever-evolving career, as she explores some of the darker reaches of the soprano repertoire. Having successfully broached the weightier Verdian roles of Giovanna d’Arco and Lady Macbeth, she is continuing to expand her vocal and artistic range, as demonstrated on this new album by her portrayals of Puccini’s Manon, Butterfly and Tosca, Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur and Giordano’s Maddalena (Andrea Chénier), among others.

Deutsche Grammophon has been with the soprano since the beginning of her remarkable recording career. On her journey so far, Netrebko has sold more than 4,3 million recordings on the Yellow Label. Since the 2013 release of her first solo studio album in over five years – Verdi, featuring a superb collection of arias under renowned Verdi specialist Gianandrea Noseda – she has appeared in recordings of Eugene Onegin, Giovanna d’Arco and Il trovatore. In November 2014 came a stunning new recording with Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin of Strauss’s Four Last Songs (paired with Ein Heldenleben), and in January 2015 a live recording of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta was released, with Netrebko portraying the eponymous heroine, one of opera’s most enigmatic figures. This was followed in October and November 2015 respectively by DVD/Blu-ray releases of Macbeth (from the Met, conducted by Fabio Luisi) and Don Giovanni (from La Scala, with Bryn Terfel, conducted by Daniel Barenboim).

Earlier highlights of Netrebko’s extensive discography include bestselling solo albums – Sempre libera, Russian Album, Souvenirs, In the Still of Night, and Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera – and complete opera recordings of La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, La bohème and I Capuleti e i Montecchi, among others. DVD/Blu-ray highlights include La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, I Puritani, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale and Anna Bolena, as well as a DVD of music videos, titled Anna Netrebko: The Woman, The Voice. Her CD Duets, with tenor Rolando Villazón, set a record for the best European debut ever for a classical album, climbing to the top of the pop charts in several countries.

Anna Netrebko was born in 1971 in Krasnodar, Russia, and studied vocal performance at the St Petersburg Conservatory. She auditioned for the Mariinsky Theatre, where she was spotted by Valery Gergiev, who became her vocal mentor. She made her operatic stage debut at the Mariinsky, aged 22, singing Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro. One year later she made her US debut at the San Francisco Opera. The 14 years since her Metropolitan Opera debut and breakthrough performance at the Salzburg Festival in 2002 have borne witness to a sensational story of successive artistic triumphs around the world.

Among the honours and prizes awarded to Anna Netrebko over the course of her meteoric career so far are Grammy nominations for her CDs Violetta and Russian Album; Musical America’s 2008 “Musician of the Year”; Germany’s prestigious Bambi Award; the UK’s Classic BRIT Awards for “Singer of the Year” and “Female Artist of the Year”; and ten German ECHO Klassik awards, including “Female Singer of the Year” in 2014. In 2005, she was awarded the Russian State Prize, the country’s highest award in the field of arts and literature. In 2008 she was given the title of “People’s Artist of Russia”, and in 2014 was invited to sing the Olympic Hymn live at the internationally televised opening ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.

A passionate advocate for children’s causes, Netrebko supports a number of charitable organisations, including SOS-Kinderdorf International and the Russian Children’s Welfare Society. She is a global ambassador for Chopard jewellery. Her many and varied interests all contribute to her artistry and provide insight into her ability to immerse herself so deeply in a role, whether tragic or comic. It is easy to see why Gramophone enthused as follows: “When I hear Anna Netrebko sing, live, I don’t want her to stop … Remember the days of rapturous standing ovations, when the sound of a singer’s voice would really drive people wild? That’s the kind of voice Netrebko has … She is also a stage animal … she is fuelled by sheer talent and instinct … I’d take Netrebko over anyone out there, any time.”