Anna Netrebko / Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia / Antonio Pappano VERISMO

. . . ["Verismo"] reveals she is more than just a star; her performances of arias and scenes from Italian opera highlight an artistry that is both subtle and thrilling . . . Netrebko's rich lyric soprano is a natural match for the lush vocals demanded by these operas, not least because her voice is at its most powerful and complex in the transitional "passaggio" points at the top and bottom of the treble staff . . . [she] flaunts a fascinating low register in the very first cut on the album, "Io son l'umile ancella" . . . The hallmark of this collection is Netrebko's taking offbeat approaches to pieces opera fans have heard a hundred times before . . . Netrebko's originality of approach can color an entire aria . . . among the most striking performances on this disc are arias from operas associated with full dramatic sopranos. In "Suicidio!" from "La Gioconda", Netrebko evokes a mood of doom with lurching high phrases and plunges into her eerie lower range . . . in the showpiece from "Turandot" "In questa reggia," Netrebko works the many phrases pounding at the higher passaggio like an expert warrior wielding a sword. It's hard to imagine this killer aria sung more beautifully . . . [Eyvazov's] bright, almost metallic tenor provides as well an effective foil in the highlight of this disc, the final act of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" . . . [Manon]: her onstage experience is immediately apparent in the wealth of detail she brings to this 20-minute scene. Pain, desperation, terror, fatigue -- even momentary bliss when Manon nestles in the arms of her lover -- these conflicting emotions shimmer through Netrebko's voice so seamlessly that at moments it's easy to forget that you're just listening to a recording of an opera. On this CD, Anna Netrebko makes verismo seem realer than life itself. (Record Review / James Jorden, New York Observer / 30. August 2016)

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