The story of Anna Netrebko's success requires no further recounting here: beginning with a sensational Salzburg début in 2002 as Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, she's become an almost unrivaled presence among classical artists. Her first aria recital entered the German pop charts, and with the video clips for this album she stands to become the first opera diva for the MTV generation. The clips have already provided her with a key to the gates of Hollywood. It is in the scene from the Traviata that Anna Netrebko made her feature film début in Garry Marshall's Princess Diaries II with Julie Andrews. Anna Netrebko knows what she can do and where (at least for now) her limits lie. Most of all, she knows what the others can, or could, do. With the greatest respect she speaks of Callas (“She is and will remain unique, there's no one else like her"), of Mirella Freni (“After I've listened to her, I sing better"), and of Renata Scotto, from whom she has learned the essentials for interpreting bel canto roles. This album from the young Russian soprano seems to invoke comparisons with those legendary singers: anyone who takes on roles like Violetta in La traviata, Amina in La sonnambula, Lucia or Desdemona in Otello has to reckon with being measured against Callas, Scotto, and Freni. Initially Anna Netrebko's new recording was to be a pure bel canto recital, but then Claudio Abbado suggested adding Desdemona's great scena. At first she was skeptical: she had never sung the part before, and, moreover, it lies considerably lower than her bravura bel canto roles. On the other hand, she felt so secure with Abbado and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra that she decided to take the plunge. In the recording, it sounds as though Desdemona has been a fixture of her repertoire for years.