Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV
NV89 Discover Music
'Jazz'

an member station

Classical
Deceptive Cadence

Anna Netrebko's Mournful 'Mamma Morta'

489526817_62629976.jpg

Soprano Anna Netrebko's new album, <em>Verismo</em>, is out Sept. 2.
Harald Hoffmann, Deutsche Grammophon
Soprano Anna Netrebko's new album, Verismo, is out Sept. 2.

"They killed my mother in the doorway." How's that for an opening line?

We're talking opera — specifically, the aria "La mamma morta" from Umberto Giordano's 1896 French Revolution thriller Andrea Chénier. The soprano is Anna Netrebko.

Opera geeks are always charged with excitement, and a little anxiety, when a favorite singer releases a new album. (Has her voice changed? How will it fit the repertoire?) Netrebko, arguably today's most touted soprano, is about to issue a new album, Verismo — and we've got a sneak peek.

As her plush voice has added darker, richer colors over the past few years, Netrebko, now 44, has been exploring lower registers and weightier roles both on record and onstage. The album's title, Verismo, refers to the turn-of-the-20th century style of opera that focuses on surging emotions and physical violence in the lives of common people.

"La mamma morta" finds the heroine, Maddalena, in crisis. She's a member of the aristocracy trying to save her lover, the poet Chénier, who has been arrested as a counterrevolutionary. When Netrebko sings, "I was alone and surrounded by nothingness!" (Così fui sola! E intorno il nulla!), her velvety, aubergine-colored voice smolders in genuine verismo emotion.

Support comes from

The aria got a boost in popularity from the 1993 Jonathan Demme film Philadelphia, in which Tom Hanks (who won an Oscar for his performance) plays the Maria Callas recording for Denzel Washington. Netrebko's new album is dominated by many of the same arias Callas recorded on her own early albums.

Verismo will be released Sept. 2 on Deutsche Grammophon.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Our journalism speaks for itself, and we answer only to you. That’s thanks to the 11,000 members of Nevada Public Radio. Each of them made a small commitment and became members of Nevada Public Radio. They didn’t have to — but because they did, you are here now. So we extend a hand and say, “Come join us!”

More Stories

Maria Callas takes a curtain call in Gluck's <em>Iphigénie en Tauride</em>, at La Scala in Milan, Italy, in 1958.
Classical
Deceptive Cadence