Anna Netrebko – O mio babbino caro
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Jader Bignamini, conductor
Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Antonio Pappano, conductor
Deutsche Grammophon, 2018
While waiting for the release of Anna Netrebko’s new album, Deutsche Grammophon released a 4-track Digital EP of Italian arias as performed at the last Summer Night Concert. The EP features a new recording of O mio babbino caro, which Netrebko already recorded in Sempre libera (2004) with Claudio Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. This time, she is accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Jader Bignamini. In addition, the EP includes three more tracks (Io sono l’umile ancella, Vissi d’arte and Qual fiamma avea nel guardo), conducted by Antonio Pappano.
The new EP
The question this release raises is: was this EP really necessary? And the answer is a polite: no. The three arias conducted by Pappano are from one of Netrebko’s latest recordings (Verismo), and the only reason to listen to them again is that in the new EP the sound is more brilliant and clean – something that it seems incredible, considering that the same result could be achieved in that recording already. On the contrary, the audio of Verismo was not one of the best and so it became necessary to present the same tracks one more time only two years after. As for Netrebko’s performances, they did not strike me at that time as outstanding and listening to them once again and despite the better sound did not change my opinion. For more details about these three tracks and Verismo, you can read my review.
O mio babbino caro
As for the new recording, O mio babbino caro, it presents all the flaws that are usual to hear in Netrebko’s voice. At the beginning, it seems nasal. You need to wait for the high A♭ of “è bello, bello” to listen to a luminous, vibrant note. Her phrasing is smooth and this is Netrebko’s best feature, but, on the other hand, there is her tendency to emphasize lyricism. This is an exaggeration that belongs to the other three tracks too. She is often immoderate in terms of pathos, even in a suave piece as O mio babbino caro, where there is no need for such temperament, risking to fall into ridiculous. Her diction is quite clear, though not excellent (all her vowels continue to sound like an immutable “o”), except in some, short passages where it is impossible to understand what she is saying.