Anna Netrebko is magnificent in a Teatro Real concert in Madrid

SpainSpain Verdi, Catalani, Mascagni, Lehar, Puccini, Giordano: Anna Netrebko (soprano), Yusif Eyvazov (tenor), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Teatro Real Orchestra / Denis Vlasenko (conductor), Teatro Real, Madrid, 1.11.2019. (JMI)

Yusif Eyvazov (tenor) & Anna Netrebko (soprano)
© Javier del Real/Teatro Real

There is no doubt that Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is one of the great operatic figures today, one of the few able to mobilize opera lovers with just the announcement of her name, be it in stage performance or in concert. In the case of this Teatro Real event, expectations were raised even higher: it has been 18 years since her first and only appearance here. That took place during a visit of the Mariinsky Theater with conductor Valery Gergiev at the helm; they mounted the opera War and Peace, in which the little-known Anna Netrebko was Natascha. Since then she has not returned to the Teatro Real, although she sang the role of Iolanta at the Liceu six years ago.

The concert had been announced as a performance by Anna Netrebko and tenor Yusif Eyvazov, her husband. The first surprise upon arriving at the theatre was the news that there was to be a third singer, British baritone Christopher Maltman, who had not been previously mentioned.

Since the main attraction here was the presence of Anna Netrebko, I should start by saying that she was in terrific vocal form. The serious inconvenience, at least for me, is that it was not an Anna Netrebko concert but rather an evening of three singers and an orchestra, which resulted in the marvelous diva’s solos running too short. She sang just three arias throughout the concert, which lasted barely 15 minutes in total, to which one must add two duets with Yusif Eyvazov and another two with Christopher Maltman. Conductor Denis Vlasenko and the orchestra played no less than three overtures. I don’t think this was what the public was expecting.

In the first half of the evening, Anna Netrebko was excellent in an aria from Don Carlo, Elisabetta’s ‘Tu che le vanità’. And in the second part, she did a splendid job with ‘Ebbene? Ne andrò lontana’ from La Wally, finishing with Gianni Schicchi’s ‘O, mio babbino caro’ where she exhibited genuine ‘fiato’. The concert began with the duet that closes the first act of Otello, sung with Yusif Eyvazov, and she later sang the Macbeth duet with Christopher Maltman. In in the second half of the concert, we heard the duet from The Merry Widow and, later, the final duet from Andrea Chénier where she shone.

Yusif Eyvazov is a tenor whose voice does not particularly appeal to me, although his instrument runs well, and he sings with good taste. He did nicely in Rodolfo’s aria from Luisa Miller, and later sang two more arias, ‘Addio a la Mamma’ from Cavalleria rusticana (which for me was his best singing of the evening) and ‘E lucevan le stelle’ from Tosca. Christopher Maltman, whose powerful baritone was too loud on more than on occasion, offered Macbeth’s aria and ‘Nemico della patria’ from Andrea Chenier. Their duet – Don Carlo and Don Alvaro from La forza del destino – was marked by an excess of shouting from the baritone. The three singers joined to sing the trio from Act I of Il trovatore.

There was only one encore: ‘O sole mio’, sung by all three stars.

The excellent Teatro Real orchestra under Denis Vlasenko played overtures from Nabucco and I vespri siciliani and the Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana.

José M. Irurzun

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