30 December 2006

I don't know if I should have my ears checked or my eyes

Two critics who've been profoundly charmed by Anna Netrebko's Met Elvira are saying the exact opposite thing. An unexpected twist to this sad critics roundtable.

In this corner, Canada's the Globe and Mail critic Paula Citron declares:

Netrebko does not have the most beautiful voice in the world. In fact, her high tessitura is just this side of thin. Her brilliance is in what she does with her instrument. First of all, Netrebko has formidable technique. Perfect placement of pitch is accompanied by exact coloratura ornamentation. She is also fearless in going for her money notes in singing that is totally without artifice.
And by now we've been thoroughly briefed on what Anthony T. said yesterday:
With the smoky colorings and throbbing richness of her sumptuous voice, Ms. Netrebko was an unusually vulnerable Elvira. Bel Canto purists may find fault with her sometimes imprecise execution of coloratura runs and roulades. But I admired her way of treating florid passagework as organic extensions of an arching vocal line, not as a series of fast notes to be nailed with cool accuracy.

In a recent interview Ms. Netrebko criticized her own tendency to let her pitch turn sharp. She is being hard on herself. She sings with such a focused vibrato that even a slight wavering of pitch stands out more than it would with a soprano whose thick vibrato masks imperfections. At the climax of soaring melodic phrases Ms. Netrebko easily filled the house with shimmering sound. A couple of top notes might have been shaky, but what mattered more was the courageous intensity of her singing.
I'm dumbfounded. These critics are falling all over themselves to starf*ck NetGelbko Inc., but they're pouncing from entirely opposite directions. One thing they agree on is Anna's courage and fearlessness. In the end, it's perhaps the only thing I'd also agree with.