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Anna Netrebko is Anna Bolena, and she releases new Pergolesi recording

On April 2, Anna Netrebko returns to the Vienna Staatsoper to make her role debut as the title character in Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, a role that she will take to New York in September to open the Metropolitan Opera’s 2011-12 season.  In the Vienna production, which is directed by Eric Génovèse and conducted by Evelino Pidò, Netrebko portrays the ill-fated Tudor queen Anne Boleyn opposite Latvian mezzo Elina Garanca as Giovanna (Jane Seymour), tenor Francesco Meli as Lord Riccardo Percy, bass-baritone Ildebrando d’Arcangelo as Enrico VIII (Henry VIII), and mezzo Elisabeth Kulman as Smeton.  The opening-night performance on April 2 will be broadcast live on Austria’s Ö1 radio.  Following the run of Anna Bolena, which ends on April 17, the Russian soprano turns her attention to the Baroque composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-36), whose works she recorded for her new album on Deutsche Grammophon, Stabat Mater: A Tribute to Pergolesi.
One of several operas Gaetano Donizetti wrote about the Tudor period (Il castello di Kenilworth, about a visit from Elizabeth I, Maria Stuarda, named after Mary, Queen of Scots, and Roberto Devereux, about the reputed lover of Elizabeth I, are the other three), Anna Bolena follows the tragic demise of Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII who literally lost her head because she could not bear the King a male heir.  The soprano role is considered one of the most challenging in the bel canto repertoire, making the opera difficult to cast and rarely performed.  The fall 2011 production at the Met, which is staged by David McVicar and also stars Garanca as Giovanna, in fact marks the work’s Met premiere.
Days after the curtain falls on the Vienna Staatsoper’s production of Anna Bolena, Anna Netrebko embarks on a five-city concert tour of Europe with mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey and the English Chamber Orchestra led by Paul Watkins. They will perform works by Pergolesi, including the composer’s Stabat Mater.  The tour kicks off at Berlin’s Philarmonie on April 21 and culminates with a performance in Toulouse on May 2.  Other stops include Munich (April 23), Paris (April 26), and Geneva (April 28).  The tour is being presented to coincide with the release of Netrebko’s new Pergolesi recording.  
Issued by Deutsche Grammophon, with whom Netrebko records exclusively, Stabat Mater: A Tribute to Pergolesi captures Netrebko in a live performance last summer at Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus, where – with the support of Italian mezzo Marianna Pizzolato, conductor Antonio Pappano, and his Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia – she dedicated a concert to Pergolesi in honor of his tercentenary.  Stabat Mater – a sacred cantata for two voices, strings, and continuo, and the Baroque composer’s most enduring masterwork – formed the program’s centerpiece, alongside an orchestral sinfonia and two of his secular cantatas, including Netrebko’s rendition of Nel chiuso centro.  Soon after the recording’s international release on March 18, Peter Jarolin reported in the Viennese daily Kurier: “Antonio Pappano’s conducting is gorgeous, clear, colorful, and highly nuanced.  The contralto Marianna Pizzolato sings her part impeccably: and Anna Netrebko is quite simply a vocal sensation.  Her soprano radiates like a dream, registers innumerable shades, is inconceivably beautiful.”  Stabat Mater: A Tribute to Pergolesi is available in both standard and deluxe editions, the latter accompanied by a bonus DVD boasting musical clips and a “Behind the Scenes” featurette.  The recording will be available in the U.S. on April 26.
The text of the Stabat Mater (Latin for “the mother was standing”) derives from a 13th-century hymn depicting the Virgin Mary weeping as she contemplates her crucified son.  Its evocation of acute grief and suffering has inspired powerfully emotional settings from such numerous and diverse composers as Josquin des Prez, Palestrina, Vivaldi, Haydn, Schubert, Rossini, Verdi, Dvorák, Penderecki, Pärt, and many more.  Pergolesi’s cantata dates from 1736, the year of his untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of 26.  Although his specialty was comic opera, of which he was one of the most important early exponents, the Italian composer also wrote a number of instrumental and religious works, and it is, ironically, the profoundly moving Stabat Mater for which he is best remembered today.
Pergolesi’s music might not, however, seem the most obvious choice for Anna Netrebko.  “On her way to becoming opera’s biggest megastar since Luciano Pavarotti” (New York Times), Netrebko has few equals in canonic operatic repertoire, whereas the Baroque represented a new challenge, taking the Russian soprano out of her comfort zone.  Fortunately, the undertaking proved to be well within her scope.  “I loved it,” she explains.  “It was a new experience for me, and so exciting.  I feel as if I’ve opened a new page.”
At Netrebko’s invitation, she was joined in the project by Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and of Rome’s Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.  The two artists recently collaborated on another Stabat Mater setting by an Italian opera buffa specialist: their EMI recording of Rossini’s oratorio was released in December, earning a five-star review in the Financial Times and being pronounced the “finest recording of the work since a 1971 one with Luciano Pavarotti” by the AP’s Verena Dobnik, who singled out “Netrebko’s rich, silvery soprano” for praise.  The singer and conductor are exceptionally well-matched, both bringing finely honed operatic sensibilities to bear on these sacred works and subtly drawing on their inherently quasi-operatic potential.
According to the UK’s Independent, Netrebko’s decision to work with Pappano on the Pergolesi project was a “crucial masterstroke.”  In reviewing the new album, the newspaper also found that the Orchestra Dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, led by Baroque specialist concertmaster Alessandro Moccia, “adapted with aplomb to the period arrangements.”  As for the selection of young Italian mezzo Marianna Pizzolato as Netrebko’s fellow soloist, “so sublimely do the two voices intertwine on the duets…, one fervently hopes this is not to be a temporary alliance.”
Keen to present examples of Pergolesi’s nonreligious side too, Netrebko elected to include a secular cantata for each soloist.  She herself reprised Nel chiuso centro, a charming cantata that she had sung in the early days of her career, while Pizzolato chose Questo è il piano, which offers opportunities for both dramatic and lyrical expression.  A short orchestral Sinfonia from one of the composer’s sacred dramas completes the all-Pergolesi program.
Further details of the new recording and of Netrebko’s upcoming performances are below.
Anna Netrebko: new Deutsche Grammophon recording
Stabat Mater – A Tribute to Pergolesi
with Marianna Pizzolato, mezzo-soprano
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia – Roma / Antonio Pappano
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710–36):
   Nel chiuso centro, cantata for soprano, strings, and continuo (Netrebko)
   Sinfonia to the sacred drama Li prodigi della divina grazia nella conversione e morte di San
       Guglielmo duca d’Aquitania for strings and continuo
   Questo è il piano, cantata for contralto, strings, and continuo (Pizzolato)
   Stabat Mater for soprano, contralto, strings, and basso continuo (Netrebko; Pizzolato)
Standard Edition: CD/download: 00289 477 9337
Prestige Edition CD+DVD: 00289 477 8857
U.S. release date: April 26
Buy Links:
Amazon (DE)
iTunes (DE)
Amazon (FR)
iTunes (FR)
Amazon (UK)
iTunes (UK)
Amazon Pre-order (US)
Anna Netrebko: upcoming performances
April 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, & 17
Vienna, Austria
Vienna State Opera
DONIZETTI: Anna Bolena (title role; role debut)
April 21
Berlin, Germany
Berliner Philharmonie
English Chamber Orchestra 
PERGOLESI: Stabat Mater
April 23
Munich, Germany
Philharmonie München
English Chamber Orchestra
PERGOLESI: Stabat Mater
April 26
Paris, France
Salle Pleyel
English Chamber Orchestra
PERGOLESI: Stabat Mater
April 28
Geneva, Switzerland
Victoria Hall
English Chamber Orchestra
PERGOLESI: Stabat Mater
May 2
Toulouse, France
Halle aux Grains de Toulouse
English Chamber Orchestra
PERGOLESI: Stabat Mater

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