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Met Opera Replaces Anna Netrebko with Sondra Radvanovsky as Bellini's 'Norma'

By Philip Trapp on May 06, 2016 03:22 PM EDT

A familiar soprano returns in the title role of Metropolitan Opera's upcoming staging of Norma, Vincenzo Bellini's revered tragedia lirica.

The announcement came down Tuesday that Sondra Radvanovsky will replace Russian prima donna Anna Netrebko, starting with the 2017-18 season opener. Radvanovsky previously portrayed Norma, debuting the part in 2013.

The move follows a shuffling of schedules due to Netrebko's decision last week to forgo adding Norma to her theater repertory. In securing her replacement, the Met's administration was made to convince the Vienna State Opera to release Radvanovsky from her previously scheduled fall 2017 performances.

Peter Gelb, Met Opera's manager, was initially doubtful of Radvanovsky's ability. Overcome by her take on Lenora in David McVicar's production of Verdi's Il Trovatore, he told the New York Times of Radvanosvsky's crowd-pleasing delivery:

"She matured as an artist, and I found her much more compelling as a performer. She has an unusual voice, which of course is what makes her so interesting. She has merged her great singing and great acting into a place where she has great appeal."

In a confounding reversal, Netrebko is actually trading places with Radvanovsky, filling in for her performances of Il Trovatore at Vienna State Opera (while Radvanovsky does Norma). Netrebko will still appear at the Met next season, albeit in that very same revival of McVicar's Trovatore.

As described by Gelb, Radvanovsky claims a distinct style. At Classical Archives, she described her singular timbre as the result of a lifetime pursuit of vocal individuality:

"[M]any young singers today are listening to recordings and trying to copy them, but that doesn't make an individual, unique voice. I've never tried to copy anyone. Instead, I tried to find my own, unique voice; and hopefully I've succeeded -- that I don't sound like anyone else, that I sound like me."

Be sure to see Norma when it opens at the Met next season, and take a look at some of Radvanovsky's previous portrayal in the below YouTube video.

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TagsMetropolitan Opera, Norma, Sondra Radvanovsky, Anna Netrebko, Peter Gelb