Opera, that gorgeous folly, has outlived the rarefied culture that once sustained it. It can't offer the high-voltage stars and sexy mass appeal that today's entertainment scene demands. Or so say its detractors. Then along comes Russian soprano Anna Netrebkoknockout good looks, bewitching charm and a mesmerizing hold on the media, which tirelessly chronicle her penchant for partying and haute couture.
Behind the celebrity persona, Netrebko, 35, is the real deal, nurtured at Russia's Kirov Opera and now in demand from Salzburg to Tokyo. From her delicate frame comes a voice of astonishing richness and power. She's also a riveting actress; just watch her ignite the stage as the doomed Violetta in La Traviata. Netrebko's blend of vocal splendor and dramatic intensity has evoked comparisons with Maria Callas. Flattering, Netrebko says, but she wants to get to the point where she's celebrated for being herself. She's already there.
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