Monday, February 5, 2007

I Puritani

Over the past decade, Anna Netrebko has done what very few opera performers can: she has become a viable crossover artist. In Europe, her records top both the classical and pop charts, and her renditions of "Musette's Waltz" and "O mio babbino caro" receive music videos. Still, her fame has cost her the respect of opera purists, who don't seem to take her as seriously as her more classical peers. Last night though, singing the difficult role of Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani, she won me over as a lifelong fan. In the years that I've been going to the opera, I don't think I've ever seen such a magnetic presence on the stage of the Met. For the famous Act Two mad scene, "Vien, diletto", Netrbko laid on her back, on the foot of the stage, with her head hanging down into the orchestra pit. Say what you will about her, but she has guts. The men last night were less successful, especially the weak Gregory Kunde as Arturo, who didn't truly come alive until well into Act Three, but that didn't really matter. You couldn't take your eyes off of Netrebko.

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