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Anna Netrebko: Criticised for not taking drugs?

img  Tobias

Back in 2005, when Anna Netrebko was still known for a steady appearance record, we already reported on Blair Tindall's "Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music", a harsh report of how the world of classical music was runining its adepts. Tindall’s findings were, however, not quite that shocking if you really thought about it. Why, after all, should classical musicians be any different from other performing artists? Only those with a naive view of the world could seriously doubt that no singer or musician would use alcohol, beta blockers and other substances to cope with stage freight, depressions and pervasive symptoms of self-doubt. In fact, cases of classical instrumentalists with an unhealthy habbit of drinking have been known for centuries. What differentiates these stories from the current discussion is rather the reason for which these drugs are being taken. While Tindall credits the top-down mentality of the system for creating a bottom tier of the poor and disillusioned, the current debate focusses on those at the top and how the press and the public are demanding them to go beyond their own limits.

Quite obviously, noone wants Anna Netrebko to take drugs to overcome an illness. On the other hand, the Salzburg organisors can hardly be blamed for asking scrutinising questions. Much more than about the Salzburg Music Festival, individual performers or even about the issue of illegal substances and alcohol abuse in general, this is about the return of the market economy to opera houses and classical concert halls. Netrebko is one of the singers of a new generation, who have helped build the genre into something big again and into a style which attracts audiences outside the usual core target group. Now the cash is flowing, every issue – be it the haircolour or the drug use of a singer – is turning into a major issue again. Just to prove the point, Anna Netrebko was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world – the first time this honour has gone to a classical performer. The report may be right in outlining the current situation, but many of its findings are in fact part of a general pattern. Expect the debate to subside and start all over again in two years from now.

Picture by Peter Rigaud

Source: International Herald Tribune
Source: PlayBillArts
Homepage: Anna Netrebko

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