Anna Netrebko suspends performances following criticism over ties to Putin

Soprano Anna Nebtreko and conductor Valery Gergiev both step away from the concert hall, facing substantial criticism over their links to Putin in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Published: March 3, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Anna Netrebko joins Valery Gergiev in stepping away from the concert hall because of her support of the Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Russian soprano has faced criticism for refusing to condemn the actions of Putin in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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She has announced that she will 'withdraw from concerts until further notice'. Concerts at Hamburg's Elbe Philharmonic and Milan's La Scala have been postponed and cancelled.

Neither Netrebko nor her husband Yusif Eyvazov will appear in La Scala's production of Cilea's opera Adriana Lecouvreur this month.

She has also withdrawn from performances of Macbeth at the Zurich Opera House. In a statement published on the Opera House's website, artistic director Andreas Homoki stated that although Netrebko had condemned the war in Ukraine and expressed her condolences to those suffering, 'she was unable to distance herself from Vladimir Putin beyond that.' Veronike Dzhioeva will replace Netrebko for her March performances of the role of Lady Macbeth.

The Bavarian State Opera's artistic director Serge Dorny also released a statement on Twitter, saying the company would also cancel all existing engagements with Netrebko, 'due to Russia's terrible war of aggression on Ukraine and a lack of sufficient distancing of Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko.'

Ukraine's ambassador to Germany tweeted on Tuesday calling for the boycott of Netrebko's Hamburg concert. 'Dear German friends. Please, please, please. Boycott! It's not art anymore.'

Netrebko and Gergiev's pro-Putin stances have led to a spate of concert cancellations and job losses in the past week, with Gergiev losing his title of chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, music director of the Verbier Festival Orchestra and honorary president of the Edinburgh International Festival.

Last week, Netrebko shared a post on her Instagram account declaring her love for Russia and her sympathy for those suffering in Ukraine. 'I want to add one thing, however,' she wrote. 'Forcing artists, or any public figure, to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right. This should be a free choice. Like many of my colleagues, I am not a political person, I am not an expert in politics. I am an artist and my purpose is to unite people across political divides.'

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Since then, she has added a further post stating her desire for peace and an end of war. However, the post was attached to a photo of her holding hands with Gergiev on stage, suggesting solidarity for the Russian conductor. Since then, she has made her Instagram account private so new users cannot see her existing content.

Authors

Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.

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