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Opera superstar Anna Netrebko will be making her Australian debut in October, touring to both Melbourne and Sydney. Netrebko, probably the highest profile soprano on the operatic stage (she was the first classical musician chosen as one of the Time 100, Time magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people) will be singing alongside her husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, in concert performances of opera highlights.
As opera stars go, they don't come much starrier than Netrebko who received an 11-minute ovation for her season-opening appearance a few years ago as Joan of Arc in Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco at La Scala. Her recent stage triumphs have included heavier roles such as Verdi's Lady Macbeth and Wagner's Elsa in Lohengrin at Dresden’s Semperoper. Her solo recital debut at the Metropolitan Opera was a sell out and fans eagerly await news of each new recording.
Eyvazov has made a series of debuts in recent years at some fairly important opera houses. He starred as Canio in Los Angeles Opera’s production of I Pagliacci conducted by Plácido Domingo, made his Metropolitan Opera and Wiener Staatsoper debuts singing Calaf in Turandot, and debuted at both the Paris Opera and at the Staatsoper Berlin as Manrico in Il Trovatore.
Netrebko and her finance tied the knot in December 2015 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna and their marriage was described by the classical music press at the time as “the wedding of the year”. The bride wore an 18-carat white gold and diamond tiara – supposedly similar to that worn by Kate Middleton – with an estimated value of 1 million euros. After the ceremony, the couple rode through Vienna in a carriage to the Liechtenstein Palace, where 180 guests, including Plácido Domingo, were welcomed with food and fireworks.
While no details of the programme has been released yet, the pair have performed opera highlights in the past. “Netrebko and Eyvazov demonstrated considerable charm and real professionalism,” wrote L.A. Times critic Mark Swed in a review of a joint recital the pair performed last year at California’s Broad Stage. “Each half ended with a big opera duet for lovers. In O Soave Fanciulla, Netrebko and Eyvazov sang the last bars offstage and they still sounded louder than many a singer does onstage. In a duet from Andrea Chénier they thrillingly raised the rafters.”
The pair can also be heard together on Netrebko’s Verismo album as well as the recent Deutsche Grammophon release of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut, recorded live at the 2016 Salzburg Festival. Netrebko received generally glowing reviews for her performance in the Puccini. “Netrebko’s Manon soars over the rest of the cast,” wrote Anna Picard in BBC Music Magazine, and Neil Fisher wrote in Gramophone: “Vocally Netrebko is in luxuriant form, her dark-tinted soprano as edible as all the chocs in a luxury assortment.”
Though Fisher singled out Eyvazov’s “impassioned moments” for praise as Des Grieux, a number of reviews were more equivocal about his sound, and it was Netrebko whom the critics applauded. Swed, however, was enthusiastic in the L.A. Times review. “Eyvazov is an exciting tenor whose sound is metallic, stentorian and markedly Italianate,” he wrote.
The announcement of Netrebko's first ever tour to Australia is bound to excite opera fans. “She is a soprano with star power in the best sense,” the New York Times wrote in 2014, “a charismatic expressivity that pervades every element of her performance.”
Netrebko and Eyvazov will be joined by conductor Mikhail Tatarnikov, Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg, who will conduct the Opera Australia Orchestra in Sydney and Melbourne.
Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov will perform at Melbourne's Plenary October 21 and the Sydney Opera House October 24. Tickets go on sale May 2 at 11am.