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Acclaimed Soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from future engagements with the Metropolitan Opera rather than forswear her support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a decision that will reportedly cost the opera company one of its most vaunted singers and box-office draws.
“It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb said in a statement Thursday. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.”
Gelb said on Sunday that the Met will not engage with any performers who support Vladimir Putin.
The Met reportedly made repeated efforts to convince Netrebko to repudiate Putin, but she could not be persuaded, a person familiar with the developments said who spoke on a condition of anonymity.
The turn of events comes on the heels of the implosion of the career of Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, who has been closely associated with Putin as the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky in St. Petersburg.
Netrebko, a 50-year-old from the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, received the People’s Artist of Russia honor from Putin in 2008. She was photographed in 2014 holding a Novorussian flag in honor of her donation of one million rubles ($18,500 at the time) to the opera house in Donetsk, a Ukrainian city controlled by Russian separatists.
On Tuesday, Netrebko made the announcement that she has withdrawn from all future performances with the world-famous opera house. Her next listed performance was at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu on April 3, followed by three concerts with her husband, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov, and an April 13 concert with the Berlin Philharmonic.
It appears that the decision was more or less mutual between the Met and Netrebko, the latter of whom offered this statement which ostensibly condemns the war in Ukraine without condemning the Russian president.
“I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression and I am calling on Russia to end this war right now, to save all of us. We need peace right now,” she said. “This is not a time for me to make music and perform. I have therefore decided to take a step back from performing for the time being. It is an extremely difficult decision for me, but I know that my audience will understand and respect this decision.”
Netrebko made her Met debut on Feb. 14, 2002, in Prokofiev’s “War and Peace” and quickly rose to stardom in the arena of opera and was a perennial house favorite at the Met. She has appeared in 192 performances at the house, the last a New Year’s Eve gala she starred in on Dec. 31, 2019.
Netrebko will be replaced – ironically – by Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska in Puccini’s “Turandot” for five performances from April 30 to May 14, including a May 7 performance that will be broadcast live to movie theaters worldwide, according to a press release from the Metropolitan Opera.
The opera house said it will also be constructing its own sets for next season’s new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” rather than share them with Moscow’s Bolshoi Opera as originally planned.
Breitbart reported that the aforementioned conductor Gergiev was fired this week as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, and his own Gergiev Festival, an annual event since 1996, was canceled by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra where he was principal guest conductor from 1995 to 2008. He also was dropped by the Vienna Philharmonic, the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, and Milan’s Teatro alla Scala.
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