Anna Netrebko ‒ Biography

It is rare for an artist to break through the boundaries of classical music stardom and gain wide recognition as an authentic operatic diva, but Anna Netrebko has achieved that and more. In a recording career stretching little more than a decade she has not only seduced the classical world with the beauty of her voice, her superb vocal control and supreme musicality; she has also become an iconic figure. Anna Netrebko is not just a grand diva but a woman with personality and charisma whose vivacious style and dazzling stage presence receive as much attention as her musical artistry.

Netrebko first started pulses racing with a triumphant Salzburg Festival debut in 2002 as Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and has since performed with nearly all the world’s great opera companies. 

Major venues have played host to some of her greatest triumphs. In New York she made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2002 and has since returned every season to perform all her signature roles. In 2011, she opened the Metropolitan Opera season to rave reviews as Donizetti’s tragic Anna Bolena. In her second consecutive season opening in 2012 she was irresistible as Adina in Donizetti’s comic gem, L’elisir d’amore. In 2013 she returned to New York as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin and was back in 2014 with Macbeth ‒ proving her unique status as “diva assoluta” of the Metropolitan Opera. Her New York performances have been seen by audiences around the world as part of the Met’s “Live in HD” cinecasts.

In Vienna ‒ her home since applying for Austrian citizenship ‒ she first sang the title role of Anna Bolena at the Vienna State Opera, a performance that has been captured on DVD. In 2011 she made her company debut at La Scala in Milan singing Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. In 2012 her memorable Mimě in La bohčme won praise from critics and audiences alike. Since then she has sung in Britten’s War Requiem at the Mariinsky Theatre and at the Salzburg Festival, made her role debuts as Verdi’s heroine Giovanna d’Arco at the Salzburg Festival and as Lady Macbeth in Verdi’s masterpiece at the Bavarian State Opera. 

Highlights of her current season include her portrayal of Mimě opposite Joseph Calleja’s Rodolfo in La bohčme at Covent Garden (her June 10 performance will be broadcast to cinemas across the UK and Europe); her return to the title role in Anna Bolena in Vienna and Zurich; and she returns to the Met in early 2015 to star in a new staging of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, co-starring Piotr Beczala and conducted by Valery Gergiev. The production will be broadcast Live in HD on Valentine’s Day.

In concert this season Netrebko sings Verdi and Verismo arias at Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana, performs selections from Macbeth with the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, gives recitals at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Colorado, in Mexico City and Guadalajara, sings Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Orchestre National de France, revisits the role of Iolanta on tour in Lucerne, Copenhagen, Monte Carlo, and London, and sings a gala concert at Salzburg’s Whitsun Festival.

To have come so far in so little time is remarkable, and Deutsche Grammophon has been with her every step of the way. On her journey Netrebko has sold more than 4 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. New to the catalogue is a stunning new recording of Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Daniel Barenboim conducting the Staatskapelle Berlin (including Ein Heldenleben) and in early 2015 she stars in a recording of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, one of opera’s most enigmatic figures.

Netrebko’s extensive discography includes bestselling solo albums ‒ Sempre Libera, Russian Album, Souvenirs, In the Still of Night, and Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera ‒ and many operas, including La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, La bohčme, and I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Highlights from her videography include DVD or Blu-ray discs of La traviata, Le nozze di Figaro, I puritani, Manon, Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Pasquale, and Anna Bolena; plus 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.

Among the honours and awards of Anna Netrebko’s meteoric career are Grammy nominations for her recordings 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 nine German ECHO Klassik awards. In 2005, President Vladimir Putin awarded her the Russian State Prize, the country’s highest award in the field of arts and literature; in 2008 he gave her the title “People’s Artist of Russia”. 2014 she was named “Female Singer of the Year” by ECHO Klassik. 

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 American debut at the San Francisco Opera. 

After her Metropolitan Opera and her breakthrough performance at the Salzburg Festival in 2002, the following 12 years saw a remarkable story of successive artistic triumphs around the world. In 2008 she gave birth to a baby boy. Motherhood reinforced her strong empathy for children, which was already an integral facet of Netrebko’s character, and resulted in her becoming an ambassador for SOS Childrens Villages and finally setting up a charitable foundation for children in need in 2012. 

In 2014 she sang the Olympic Hymn live at the internationally televised opening ceremony of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, further widening the reach of a classical singer whose musicality is second to none but who also has mass appeal as a truly rounded character; a woman of the world. Her variety of interests all contribute to her musical artistry and provide insight into Netrebko’s ability to immerse herself so deeply in a role, whether tragic or comic. It is easy to see why Gramophone declaimed: “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.”