1. The Announcement
2. The Ceremony
3. Childhood & Youth
4. Early career
5. Worldwide Recognition
2020 Laureate


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.


Announcement of 2020's Polar Music Prize Laureates.

The Laureates of 2020 were announced on February 11, 2020. A press conference was held as usual in the Stockholm City Hall where Mayor of Stockholm Anna König Jerlmyr welcomed the guests. Diane Warren and Anna Netrebko were announced as Laureates of 2020 by Alfons Karabuda, chairman of the Polar Music Prize Award Committee, and Marie Ledin, MD of the Polar Music Prize.

Alfons Karabuda announcing the Laureates.

Anna König Jerlmyr

2020 – a very special year

2020 turned out to be a very special year as the pandemic of covid-19 started to spread all over the world a month later. Due to the restrictions regarding the coronavirus, the ceremony was first postponed to 2021 and finally cancelled as the pandemic was still raging in the first part of 2021.

Marie Ledin, MD of the Polar Music Prize interviewed about the Laureates.

Agneta Christiernin, Polar Music Prize's production manager, and Stefan Forsberg, member of the Award committee.

Stefan Forsberg, Anna Netrebko and HM Queen Silvia at Konserthuset Stockholm

A quite unusual prize ceremony

HM Queen Silvia presented the Polar Music Prize to 2020's Laureate Anna Netrebko on October 16, 2021, in connection with a magnificent concert at Konserthuset Stockholm. The Polar Music Prize organization was happy and grateful to finally have been able to meet Anna Netrebko and present her with 2020’s prize, however in particular circumstances this time due to the covid-19 pandemic.

More pictures from this fantastic evening here.

HM Queen Silvia presenting the Polar Music Prize to Anna Netrebko

Anna Netrebko and Stefan Forsberg, Executive and Artistic Director of Konserthuset Stockholm and member of the Award Committee

HM Queen Silvia presents the prize to Anna Netrebko, citation read by Stefan Forsberg.

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

Netrebko’s father was a geologist and her mother a communications engineer. As a child she briefly studied piano and sang in a chorus, and in high school she sang in a traveling musical troupe.

She dreamt about being an actress, but finally changed her path towards opera and entered the St Petersburg Conservatory to study vocal performance in 1990.

Anna Netrebko as a child. (Source: Private collection courtesy of Anna Netrebko)

Young Anna Netrebko (Source: Private collection courtesy of Anna Netrebko).
The Mariinsky Theatre/Kirov Opera (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


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.

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.

Valery Gergiev

Anna Netrebko, Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra

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 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).

Anna Netrebko on singing Verdi

La Scala in Milan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Verdi album

Romanza, recorded with Yusif Eyvazov

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

Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 2020.

Header photo and portrait by Kirk Edwards.

Photos from the announcement and the ceremony at Konserthuset Stockholm by Annika Berglund, © Polar Music Prize.