Anna Netrebko, Diva With Putin Ties, Is Out at the Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko, Diva With Putin Ties, Is Out at the Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko, the superstar Russian soprano, will no longer appear at the Metropolitan Opera this season or next after failing to comply with the company’s demand that she distance herself from President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as he wages war on Ukraine.

The end of Ms. Netrebko’s engagements, which the Met announced on Thursday, came after the opera company, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said it would no longer hire artists who support Mr. Putin. While Ms. Netrebko has in recent days issued statements critical of the war, she has remained silent on the Russian president, whose re-election she has in the past endorsed.

“It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera,” Peter Gelb, the company’s general manager, said in a statement. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine there was no way forward.”

Ms. Netrebko did not immediately respond to a request for comment through her representatives.

While the announcement on Thursday encompassed only two seasons, Mr. Gelb said in an interview on Thursday that it seemed unlikely Ms. Netrebko would ever come back to sing with the company.

“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which she will return to the Met,” he said.

Ms. Netrebko’s break with the Met, where she has sung nearly 200 performances over the past 20 years and became the reigning prima donna, was a stunning turnaround for one of the world’s biggest opera stars. She 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.

Her departure from America’s largest performing arts institution came amid a broader backlash against some Russian artists for their ties to Mr. Putin — one that has raised difficult questions about how far arts organizations should go in requiring public declarations from artists.

Earlier this week, 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.

Mr. 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. His international performances have all but dried up since Russia invaded Ukraine.

As criticism of Ms. Netrebko’s ties to Mr. Putin grew, she abruptly canceled appearances at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Zurich Opera and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. Her public statements have alternated between condemning the war and saying it was wrong to ask Russian artists to denounce their government.

On Tuesday, Ms. Netrebko posted a picture on Instagram of herself with Mr. Gergiev, smiling after a concert. Then, in a separate post, she wrote: “As I have said, 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.” Both posts were later deleted.

The Met announced on Sunday that it would no longer engage with performers or other institutions that have voiced support for Mr. Putin. In the interview on Thursday, Mr. Gelb defended the Met’s stance, saying the company would still welcome many Russian artists and perform Russian music.

“We’re not undertaking an artistic witch hunt,” he said. “We’re not interviewing or interrogating any artists about their positions.”

The decision means the Met will likely end its collaboration with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, including on a new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” scheduled for next season. Mr. Gelb said on Thursday the opera house had decided to build its own sets and make its own costumes for that production, tasks the Bolshoi had been expected to handle.

“My hope is that at some point the relationship between the Met and the Bolshoi can resume,” Mr. 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.”

Ms. Netrebko will be replaced in upcoming performances of Puccini’s “Turandot” by Liudmyla Monastyrska, a Ukrainian soprano. The Met did not immediately announce a replacement for her in a revival of Verdi’s “Don Carlo” next season.

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