We caught up with the star soprano backstage in Paris and discovered why she doesn’t want to do “stupid intellectual stuff”.

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is what you might describe as an enigmatic diva. One of the biggest opera stars alive today, she’s a regular performer in the biggest opera theatres around the world. The first classical performer to be included in TimeMagazine’s 100 list, she has featured on dozens of albums and is adored by countless fans around the world.

Music critics have called her “the reigning new diva of the early 21st century” ( Associated Press), “the century’s most spectacular voice” ( Vogue) and “a soprano with star power in the best sense” ( The New York Times). Yet she’s remarkably modest, almost dismissive, about the evolution of her glittering career and curiously unwilling to discuss how she started out as a singer, which she declares “boring”.

Anna Netrebko Anna Netrebko. Photo © Ruven Afanador/Deutsche Grammophon

“I didn’t come from a musical family but this isn’t very interesting,” she says with a delicate pout. “It doesn’t matter if you’re from a musical family or not. Becoming a singer, it’s about other things, the...