The Polar Music Prize 2020 is awarded to Russian operatic soprano Anna Netrebko. Star quality has a deeper meaning in the opera world. Being a virtuoso vocalist is not enough. As an art form, opera is also about capturing the audience’s attention. No one in the modern era does that better than opera diva Anna Netrebko. As a reviewer put it, she defines the word ‘extra’. With her magnificent voice and glowing charisma, she is a larger-than-life singer who keeps the classics alive, sells out every performance and also catches the attention of audiences new to opera; Anna Netrebko opens doors. She was the first classical musician to be included in Time Magazine’s ‘The Top 100 Most Influential People’. When Anna Netrebko performs, it’s impossible to look away.

Chapter: Childhood

A soprano with star power in the best sense, a charismatic expressivity that pervades every element of her performance.

Anthony Tomassini, New York Times

A young performer

Anna Netrebko was born in 1971 in Krasnodar, Russia, on the shore of the Black Sea.

Young Anna Netrebko (Photo: Private collection courtesy of Anna Netrebko)
Young Anna Netrebko (Photo: Private collection courtesy of Anna Netrebko)
Conservatory of St. Petersburg (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Chapter: Early career

Debut

Anna Netrebko worked as a staff member at the Mariinsky theatre in St Petersburg before auditioning there. She made her stage debut at the young age of 22 as Susanna in Le Nozze de Figaro under the baton of her mentor, Polar Music Prize Laureate Valery Gergiev.

The Mariinsky Theatre/Kirov Opera (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Valery Gergiev
Anna Netrebko, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra

In her early career she got known for rendition of lyric and coloratura soprano roles, most notably Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Violetta in Verdi’s La traviata.

Violetta – Arias and duets from Verdi's La Traviata
Verdi: La Traviata
The Mozart Album
Chapter: worldwide recognition
(Photo: Photo by Julian Hargreaves)

Worldwide recognition

However, it was in 2002, bookended by memorable first appearances at the Met and Covent Garden, that her triumphant Salzburg Festival performances as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni most decisively announced her arrival as a star.

Later on Anna would draw on the exceptional maturation of her voice to conquer the most demanding roles of her career. Her title role debut in Giovanna d’Arco the 2013 Salzburg Festival, and the concurrent release of her Verdi album on Deutsche Grammophon, have marked the major turning point when she began to leave behind the lighter, more lyric roles for which she had first become known

Anna Netrebko on singing Verdi
The Verdi album

Anna has performed all over the world, the greatest opera parts in the biggest opera houses. Leonora in Il trovatore at the Berlin State Opera and as the title character in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Rome Opera, where she sang under Riccardo Muti opposite Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov, who also is her husband. At Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, she made her first appearances as Verdi’s Lady Macbeth, Maddalena in Andrea Chénier at her third La Scala opening (2017), and as Tosca at the Met (2018), to name a few. In 2007 she was the first classical artist named to TIME magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people (together with Polar Music Prize Laureate Youssou N’Dour).

The magnificent staircase at the Metropolitan Opera in New York
Romanza, recorded with Yusif Eyvazov
La Scala in Milan (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, public domain)

Recording artist & Awards

An exclusive Deutsche Grammophon recording artist since 2003, the soprano boasts an extensive discography that includes solo albums, complete opera recordings, and concert repertoire. Her 2016 solo release, Verismo, debuted at No. 1 on the classical charts in dozens of countries, besides scoring a Grammy nomination and winning the Diapason d’Or de l’Année award in the “Vocal Recital” category. Her previous solo albums for the yellow label – Opera Arias, Sempre Libera, Duets, Russian Album, Souvenirs, In the Still of Night, Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera, Anna Netrebko: Verdi, Verismo, and DIVA: The Very Best of Anna Netrebko–have all been bestsellers.

Opera Arias
In the still of the night
Live at the Metropolitan
See you in Stockholm in June!