Critic's Notebook: New York goes mad for Anna Netrebko as Lady Macbeth


  • Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
  • THAT WAY MADNESS LIES: New York critics and audiences alike are raving about Anna Netrebko, who performs as Lady Macbeth alongside Željko Lučić as Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera. Check it out for yourself at Saturday's live broadcast.

Have you ever seen a performance so amazing, so mind-bogglingly incredible that, as you watch, you slowly feel the bonds of your sanity begin to loosen? Apparently, it's all the rage in New York as Met audiences take in soprano Anna Netrebko performing as Lady Macbeth, and one by one, they take leave of their senses. It's a performance Atlanta audiences can check out Saturday afternoon when the Met broadcasts the performance live in high definition video to movie theaters around the world.

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Even taking on the role at all was something of a risk for the Met star, who has so far mostly made her name performing in ingenue roles: “I never saw so many googly eyes in my life,” she recently told The New York Times about the skepticism that greeted her when she announced that she would perform the dark and demanding role of Lady Macbeth in Verdi's famous opera based on Shakespeare's play. Other, lesser performers might have been discouraged by that sort of disapproval, but not Netrebko. Apparently, she looked deep into those googly eyes and caught a glimpse of mental weakness, and she became determined to exploit it.

Critic James Jorden wrote in The New York Observer that she delivers a performance so exciting it propels both artist and audience alike "to the brink of madness." At a performance last week, an audience member yielded to that delirium and was totally unable to refrain from shouting out his adoration for Netrebko during the middle of a scene. Bloomberg critic Manuela Hoelterhoff was able to collect herself enough to write of her admiration for Netrebko's "invoking the agents of darkness" in her "man-mashing" costume. The normally cool-headed and analytical New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini wasn't immune to the general madness and was only able to reassure himself at the very end of the show that there was indeed a clear line between stage performance and real life. "During curtain calls, it was startling to see the fearless Lady Macbeth vanish," he writes, "and Ms. Netrebko, all smiles, look girlishly happy as she waved to her fans." Fans, no doubt, who had to leave the Met and go straight to check themselves into Bellevue.

Atlanta fans who feel they have a firm enough grasp on their sanity can check out the performance this Saturday afternoon, October 11, as the Met broadcasts Verdi's Macbeth live in high-definition video to cinemas, including several in the Atlanta area. Anyway, if you see us on Sunday and we're drooling and babbling gibberish, you'll at least know why.

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