Opinion: Opera’s top-billed singers should lend their star power to create new operas, too

Posted on: January 13, 2020

At the Metropolitan Opera’s recent Puccini-themed New Year’s Eve gala, soprano Anna Netrebko “was in her glory,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Thursday’s (1/9) New York Times. “Yet Puccini might well be perplexed by Ms. Netrebko’s career. He would probably wonder why she sings only roles that are a century old, at least. After all, the star singers of his day coveted opportunities to create characters in new works. Where are the new roles written for Ms. Netrebko? … We opera lovers depend on singers of today with superb voices and riveting stage presences to keep the great works of the past alive…. But … of the 25 operas the Met is presenting this season … not a single offering is new…. When Enrico Caruso … sang Radamès in Verdi’s ‘Aida’ to open the Met’s 1904-05 season, that opera was a more recent piece than [Philip Glass’s] ‘Akhnaten’ is today…. Artists must … perform the works that inspire them…. When [Netrebko] brings blazing intensity and vocal splendor to Aida, Lady Macbeth and Turandot, it’s perhaps unfair to ask for more.… Yet imagine if she spread the word that she was interested in singing something truly new. Composers would line up.”