“First of all: I am opposed to this war,” Anna Netrebko posted on her Instagram. “I am Russian and I love my country but I have many friends in Ukraine and the pain and suffering right now breaks my heart,” she wrote. “I want this war to end and for people to be able to live in peace.
“This is what I hope and pray for. I want to add, however, that forcing artists, or any public figure to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right,” she continued. “This should be a free choice. I am not a political person. I am not an expert in politics. I am an artist and my purpose is to unite across political divides.”
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A day after her post, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera posted a video on its Facebook page, with a statement from its general manager Peter Gelb. In the clip, he says that the company will “no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him – not until the invasion or killing has stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made.”
As stated in the New York Times, The Met’s decision will affect artists like Netrebko, whose ties to Putin have resulted in her once pictured holding a flag used by Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine.
According to the Washington Post, along with the cancellations of Gergiev’s performances at Carnegie Hall, the Met Opera has been pressured by activists to cancel performances featuring Netrebko.
Netrebko has withdrawn from several performances including ones in Denmark. Opera Magazine reported that she also pulled out from a production of Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur at Italy’s La Scala in Milan, stating that while she is well, she will not be going to Milan. Her husband tenor singer Yusif Eyvazov also withdrew from the production.
“Sto benissimo ma non vengo a Milano”: the latest cancellation in the new cultural cold war comes from Anna Netrebko, who says “I’m well but I’m not coming to Milan”. Neither she nor her husband Yusif Eyvazov will appear in Adriana Lecouvreur @teatroallascala this month. pic.twitter.com/33rWWg2PfQ
— Opera magazine (@operamagazine) March 1, 2022
Additionally, Netrebko will no longer be playing Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at Switzerland’s Opernhaus Zürich. She will be replaced by soprano Veronika Dzhioeva for the performances on March 26 and 29, 2022.
“We have to realize that our firm condemnation of Vladimir Putin and his actions on the one hand and Anna Netrebko’s public position on the other are not compatible,” said Opernhaus Zürich director Andreas Homoki.
According to Swiss-German newspaper, Blick, not wanting to contest this decision by the opera company, Netrebko stated: “This is not a time for me to make music and perform. I have therefore decided to take a break from performing at the moment. It is a very difficult decision for me.”
Born in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar in 1971, Netrebko began singing at an early age. She attended the St Petersburg Conservatory where her talents were discovered by Valery Gergiev, artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater, which she joined in her 20s.