Anna Netrebko earned international acclaim in both the opera world and the German pop charts for her highly controlled, crystal-clear soprano voice and her charismatic stage presence. Netrebko was born in Krasnodar, Russia, on September 18, 1971. She attended the Conservatory of St. Petersburg, where she worked as a floor cleaner in her spare time. It was in virtue of her custodial work, not to mention her vocal talent, that she attracted the attention of conductor Valery Gergiev. He became her mentor, and helped Netrebko land her debut role as Suzanna in Le Nozze di Figaro. After holding down several more leading roles with the Kirov Opera, Netrebko made her American debut in 1995, playing Lyudmila in a San Francisco Opera performance of Ruslan and Lyudmila. She went on to tour the globe, holding down lead roles in War and Peace, La Boheme, and I Capuleti e i Montecchi. She made her debut at the Met in 2002 in the role of Natasha in War and Peace, and the following year found Netrebko with her first full-length album, Opera Arias. Another album, Sempre Libera, hit stores in 2004. Netrebko continued to tour heavily over the next few years, garnering praise from critics throughout the world for her performances in Romeo et Juliette, La Traviata, and I Puritani. She often played roles opposite the Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon during this time. In 2006, Netrebko’s third release, Russian Album, hit stores throughout Europe. It peaked in the Top Ten on the German pop charts, paving the way for the release of another album, Duets (featuring Villazon), which came out early in the following year. Netrebko made her Carnegie Hall debut a couple months after the album was released.