Last November, Marina Rebeka sat down for tea at a restaurant across the street from the Metropolitan Opera, where she was then singing Mathilde in musically electrifying performances of Guillaume Tell, and promptly announced that she was dumping the role from her repertoire.
“I have to be honest—I don’t like the way that my voice sounds in the role,” the Riga native said in lightly accented English. Critics and audiences alike had deemed her soprano a near-ideal instrument to sing the heroine in the first Met showing of Rossini’s grand opera in eighty-five years—but Rebeka seemed more than happy to bid adieu to the Hapsburg princess. “I have to cut the edges off the frequencies to fit into all the coloratura, and I can’t use the whole range of what I have. The role doesn’t allow the voice to really show all the colors. It doesn’t give me the possibility to expand.”
Since she made her Met debut as Donna Anna in the 2011 premiere of Michael Grandage’s Don Giovanni staging, New York audiences have had several opportunities to hear the full range of her soprano in action. Expansive and thrillingly precise in the fleetest coloratura, Rebeka’s voice can cut like a scimitar through the often smudged runs of Violetta’s “Sempre libera” or an aria such as Anna’s “Or sai chi l’onore,” or caress and prod the gentle chromaticisms of Mathilde’s “Sombre forêt” and Norma’s “Casta diva.” Yet what’s perhaps most remarkable about her dramatic-coloratura instrument is the way its pointed, steely attack can bloom into a gleaming column of sound.
Adam Wasserman – Opera News
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(Image: Dario Acosta)