Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Talented and Worthy: Anna Netrebko

Last week on Talented and Worthy we featured up-and-coming fashion designer Ashleigh Verrier. This week we turn the spotlight on Russian sorpano Anna Netrebko.

Anna Netrebko left home at age 16 to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer, but when she finally got to the famous Mariinksy Theatre in St. Petersburg, the only job she could get was scrubbing floors in the lobby. So she scrubbed floors during the day and took singing lessons at night. Initially, she faced rejection after rejection. "I heard so many times," she said, "that I don't have the voice and the best for me is the chorus or something."

A few years later, Netrebko is being heralded by critics around the world as a vocal genius and the saving grace of modern opera. She has three best selling albums and her concerts are soldout all over the globe. Marketers are hoping that her combination of smoldering good looks and vocal talent will help inaugurate a new generation of opera enthusiasts. It may just be working. When Anna released a DVD of operatic "music videos," the DVD soared to #1 in Europe, surpassing both Britney Spears and Beyonce.

Bob Simon of CBS News is quick to point out that Anna is not your typical diva. "Her specialty may be arias," he writes, "but she has no airs . . . There are no limos, no paparazzi. And she always goes back to the Mariinksy Theatre, sees her old friends, and does a turn on stage." He also mentions that Anna likes to hang out with smokers and doesn't mind the air conditioning (two vices traditionally scorned by opera singers). Though she has a sweet tooth for couture, she told the New York Times that she also really likes Filene's Basement and the Express. And, oh yeah, she loves Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.

The latest news on Anna is the she freaked out about her upcoming solo recital at Carnegie Hall in New York and canceled the show. Neurotic and self-defeating. My favorite kind of person.

Check out her website here.

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