Metropolitan Opera superstar ousted over ties to Vladimir Putin

Metropolitan Opera superstar ousted over ties to Vladimir Putin
Anna Netrebko (Shutterstock).

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City announced on Thursday that Russian soprano Anna Netrebko will no longer be performing in two operas beginning this spring and extending into the 2022-2023 season.

Netrebko’s departure came after she had been warned by the Metto sever ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin over his bloody invasion of Ukraine.

“Not complying with the Met’s condition that she repudiate her public support for Vladimir Putin while he wages war on Ukraine, soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from her upcoming Met performances in Puccini's Turandot this April and May, as well as the run of Verdi's Don Carlo next season,” the Met said in a press release.

Netrebko will be replaced by Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska in Turandot, the Met said.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in a statement that Netrebko’s withdrawal from the organization’s roster is “a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera.”

Netrebko “is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward,” Gelb said.

Because of Netrebko’s sustained connection to Putin, Gelb added, “it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which she will return to the Met.”

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Netrebko, who appeared in more than 200 performances spanning a 20-year career, “has expressed support for Mr. Putin at times over the years, and in 2014 she was photographed holding a flag used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.”

The Times pointed out that Netrebko’s resignation “came amid a broader backlash against some Russian artists” for their personal relationships with Putin.

In Germany, for example, “Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro who has long been closely associated with Mr. Putin, was removed from his post as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic after he refused to denounce the invasion of Ukraine,” the Times noted.

“Gergiev has publicly supported Mr. Putin, including with concerts at home and abroad. In 2008 he led a concert in South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia, and in 2016 led another in Palmyra in Syria, after it was retaken by Syrian and Russian forces,” the Times continued. “His international performances have all but dried up since Russia invaded Ukraine.”

Meanwhile, Gelb maintained in an interview with the Times that the Met is “not undertaking an artistic witch hunt. We’re not interviewing or interrogating any artists about their positions.”

He also lamented that the conflict in Ukraine has forced the Met to abandon its partnership with Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater.

“My hope is that at some point the relationship between the Met and the Bolshoi can resume,” Gelb said. “But I don’t see any present or immediate resolution. As long as Putin is calling the shots, it’s not going to happen.”

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