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Opera Revolution

Posted February. 10, 2007 03:00,   


Watching an opera on DVD has become a big trend among classical music fans. In Korea, where only a limited number of operas are staged, an increasing number of opera-lovers’ clubs are watching latest operas performed in prestigious opera theaters like the Scala Theatre in Milan and the Metropolitan Opera in New York on DVD. Finally, watching an opera in our living room is about to become as common as watching a movie on video.

At the very center of this revolutionary change lies Anna Netrebko, a 35-year-old Russian soprano. She is not only gifted with her innocent-looking face and voluptuous body, but also stunning acting skills. In the era of visual culture, Netrebko is reminding us once again that opera is not all about music but a composite art form made up of both audio and visual elements.

She rose to stardom thanks to the opera “La Traviata” performed during the Salzburg Festival in 2005. In the opera in which she starred with tenor Rolando Villazon, audiences could not take their eyes off of her fascinating acting. She superbly performed the aria while relentlessly running around the stage in a modern outfit and kissing Villazon wearing only a slip.

If you go to a record shop, you can find more of her DVDs than CDs. “Gaetano Donizetti’ L`Elisir d`Amore” (The Elixir of Love) in which she starred with Villazon, and “The Berlin Live Concert” in which Netrebko starred with Placido Doming have been released recently.

In particular, the Berlin Concert held on July 7, 2006, on the eve of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, truly proved that the popularity the three tenors – Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carrearas – which had continued since the 1990 World Cup in Rome, has completely shifted to the “Villazon-Netrebko” duo who are equipped with both good looks as well as outstanding singing and acting skills. The DVD also features Netrebko’s singing an encore without a microphone in front of some 20,000 at an outdoor stage.

Netrebko studied at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in Russia and her talent was discovered by Valery Gergiev, one of the best conductors of the Kirov Orchestra. She made her debut in 1994 with “Marriage of Figaro” in the Mariinsky Theatre by playing the role of Susanna. She began to earnestly perform on major opera stages like the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Salzburg Festival, and the Munich Opera Scala Theatre.

She has significantly transformed modern opera. With the emergence of the new opera star, many female opera singers have gone on a diet and male singers have become masculine. “When I watched the 22 DVDs of the 2006 Salzburg Festival held in commemoration of 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, I could not find even one singer who was overweight,” Park Jong-ho, an opera critic, said.

Netrebko is often referred to as the “Sharapova of Opera.” As of those who have never followed tennis watch a tennis match of Maria Sharapova to watch her athletic body, people who have never watched an opera in their entire life are now turning to opera theaters after watching a DVD which Netrebko stars in. In addition, the German airline Lufthansa began to show operas along with movies as part of their in-flight service in 2005.

It is not easy to meet the world’s most popular soprano on the stage of a Korean theater. However, you can watch her stunning performance on the big screen at the HOAM Art Hall. “Puritani” in which she played the lead role at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, will be screened at 2:00 p.m. on February 23 and 24. In addition, the “Magic Flute” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on February 22 and 23, and “The First Emperor” at 7:30 p.m. on February 24. This is another unprecedented event reminding us of the “Opera DVD Revolution” fueled by Netrebko.