Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazón - The greatest couple in opera: Januar
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is opera's party-girl superstar, wowing audiences across the Continent. hottest opera, The Marriage of Figaro, starring Netrebko as Susanna. We talk about her next album with tenor Rolando Villazón, and their An etiquette guide to ballet and opera for beginners. Tenor Rolando Villazón is firing on all cylinders again, finds Jasper his sizzling stage relationship with the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko. Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazon are the golden couple of the opera book, mark the beginning of the end of a beautiful relationship. NL.
This is a girl after my own heart: As we all ride the elevator upstairs to Netrebko's New York apartment, I tell her about my babies born in N. I tell her I have done the boy thing four times over. I think then, instantly, I am seen not just as the journalist come to call, but a mother, another woman, one who has had to do her share of juggling.
And pretty soon, as we sit perched on stools next to the bar as Netrebko makes me a cup of tea, she jokingly asks if I want tequila Already wowed LA in a knockout performance as Manon, reconceived as a pole-dancing hottie.
And then all at once, I am handed the baby and am bouncing him on my knee. This, I know how to do very, very well.
But the other part, the one where you have to risk everything and stand up in front of four thousand people sometimes, in her free, open air concerts, up to sixty thousand and either wear very restrictive gowns or take almost all your clothes off and then deliver an aria and have the most discerning critics examining, literally, your every breath and intonation, this, I can only imagine in my wildest nightmares.
Netrebko is known to be a moving and exciting singer, both rich and clear, who commands the stage with her slightest trill in Lucia riffing with a glass harmonicaher smallest gesture. Still, especially after a performance she had barely enough time to rehearse for, after six months off, and a performing partner tenor Rolando Villazon either under the weather or his own demons, who had forced an emergency illness alert before the third act by Met General Manager Peter Gelb and thus some critical restlessness, I had imagined she might be a bit low.
But unlike Maria Callas, with whom she is often vocally compared, Netrebko is not a tragic figure but a resolutely optimistic person, one who was reportedly "chill" before the performance. Arianna, who wrote about Maria Callas, would recognize in her the same throw-yourself-in-front-of-a-bus kind of performer, who constantly challenges herself.
Then, at intermission, I heard from a reliable source that Netrebko had been running around backstage gloating about her first paycheck in six months! I don't blame her in the least.
We are all dying to have babies, and then we are petrified that no one will ever hire us again. We fear losing the thing that makes us special. We think our talent, and we, will disappear if we step back, even for a moment. There is a mix of Russian peasant, bad girl, good girl, fun girl.
But under it all: In New York, she can be the anonymous mother; in Europe, she is followed everywhere, and the quest for baby photos is apparently on the order of the Brangelina brood.
Tiago, himself a sturdy, happy thing, is very much cast in his mother's mold. Still "a Netrebko" because Anna and Erwin have not yet married she tells me he is far away, but not where. She would like to get married, but "when, where, how?
Anna Netrebko - Wikipedia
But even on a good day, when they are in the same city, two superstars in demand cannot have it easy. After a short show and tell, Tiago goes into the bedroom for a lie down, soon to reappear, quite happily, in his little seat to hang with us, cooing and smiling. Netrebko says he sleeps through the night and I tell her it's only because babies sense these things: When I add that a lot of American women who have children complain of being torn, she affirms, "The grass is on the neighbor who is greener.
Though Netrebko lives part time in Vienna, she thinks of New York, too, as home. She has "always loved this country" and describes it as a "fairytale," a "Disneyland" with "bright stuff," where "people are happy. Though Escada has dressed her for lots of concerts and recitals, Anna is going with the designer to the stars, Oscar de la Renta, for her Vanity Fair shoot today.
Personally, I love her in the short black and white striped sweater dress, black tights and brown suede lace-up boots she is wearing, with a Russian-inflected thick white wool hairband, entirely opposite the mad, faded aristocrat with whom she was communing last night.
Though motherhood, she says, has changed her, not only singing with "a full voice" but shaded, with "dynamism," this is not a girl who is withholding. She had a little trouble with the pole in L. No, she smiles seductively, she knew how. She complains of being seven kilos overweight still she just stopped nursing! I love the way she looks, voluptuous and sexy a very different energy from Wendy Whelan which just shows, girls, that there is more than one way to keep them hanging around.
At opera recitals, tickets are bought at your own risk. True, the Danes should have been aware that Villazon, once acclaimed as the next Domingo by Domingo himself, has been on the skids these past two years, after suffering a vocal polyp and a storm of tittle-tattle over his close relationship with the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko both are married, but not to each other.
Rolando Villazon should learn from the classical heroes
While building up a television career as a talent judge on ITV's Popstar to Operastar, Villazon's recent opera nights have been a litany of embarrassment. Last month, he dropped out of two Strauss performances at the Munich Opera Festival and whispered his way through a third. Did the audience feel cheated? You bet they did. Much as we might sympathise with an artist who loses his art — "He started too young and had no technique to fall back on," was one soprano's verdict — no singer should take the money when he cannot sing.
Yet Villazon's circus is symptomatic of a form of contempt that pervades classical performers from time to time. Pavarotti was guilty of it. He once called in sick to Covent Garden from the arms of a cutie on a South Sea beach.
He also mimed at concerts to a recording of his own voice. But when caught red-handed, Big Lucy would give a huge grin, like a naughty boy in a sweetshop, and go out to blast an arena with the real thing. What we're seeing now is more chutzpah, and less payback. Take Bryn Terfel's summer camp. The Welsh baritone has been running a starry-eyed festival on the Faenol estate near Gwynedd for a decade. Last summer, he called it off because of low ticket sales, understandable in deep recession.
Ten days ago, Terfel announced that the festival was cancelled, blaming lack of public interest. How much did Terfel himself put in to an event he has twice scrapped at short notice, with scant regard for hundreds of ticket-buyers, some of whom planned family holidays around his festival? Then there is the rise of Russian roulette, when a performer commits to a concert only to renegotiate at the last minute.
End of the road for opera's lovers
The BBC Proms have suffered a glut of late changes this summer for reasons of mortality, ill-health and, in one case, criminal charges. None was more distressing than the death of the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, who had courageously committed to two concerts as his cancer clock ticked away.
Legends are made of such gritty determination. Last week, there was a more tenuous withdrawal. The Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky pulled out for what were interestingly described as "contractual reasons".
This could mean one of two things: