Star soprano Netrebko sings new, "naughtier" Manon

Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:48am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The star draw for the Royal Opera House's new production of Jules Massenet's "Manon" was undoubtedly Russia's Anna Netrebko, a top soprano with looks and charisma to go with the voice.

Judging by the cheers at the end of the premiere late on Tuesday, it was her on-stage partner Vittorio Grigolo who also stole the show in the Italian tenor's first outing as Manon's hapless lover Chevalier des Grieux.

The 33-year-old, who was a soloist in the choir of the Sistine Chapel and made a successful "popera" album, is increasingly concentrating on pure opera, and attributed his success to understanding what his character was going through.

"Before debuting this role I had to have all these emotions already in my background," he told Reuters backstage after a packed performance. "If I didn't have these emotions it would not be possible to deliver that."

Grigolo said he was not put off by singing alongside one of the opera world's biggest names.

"You don't think about the superstar," he said of Netrebko, who has performed the lead role of Manon several times.

"If you are here on stage, the stage we share is going to be shining for everybody.

"When you sing in such a great theater it is like playing Wimbledon -- before you play there are no stars, then after you play the stars come." The tennis fan has been following the grass court championship which began in London this week.   Continued...