“Are you going to the Anna Netrebko concert?” asked a friend of mine. It took me a while to figure out what she meant. Then I knew: Was I going to the concert of the Santa Cecilia orchestra, conducted by Antonio Pappano? The first half consisted of a Haydn symphony; the second half consisted of Rossini’s Stabat Mater, which requires four vocal soloists. The soprano was Netrebko—hence, “the Anna Netrebko concert.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a greater tribute to her star power.

The Santa Cecilia orchestra—formally, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia—showed up in the second week of the Salzburg Festival. They are probably the leading orchestra in Italy, but, as William F. Buckley, Jr., asked in a different context, “Isn’t that like celebrating the tallest building in Wichita, Kansas?” I should not joke, however: Santa Cecilia is a fine...

 
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