Vienna State Opera pledges to allow both Russian and Ukrainian artists to perform

'We strictly reject the demands for a separation [of artists] as well as a world view that classifies people as "good" or "bad" only on the basis of their origin,' says a State Opera statement

Published: March 22, 2022 at 11:37 am

The Vienna State Opera has posted a message on its Facebook page, pledging to keep both Russian and Ukrainian artists on its stage.

Advertisement

The statement has been posted in response to demands from its audience not to allow Russian artists to perform in its opera and ballet performances in the wake of Russian military action in Ukraine.

The statement reads:

'As an international opera and ballet house, we are happy and proud to unite artists from the most diverse nations on our stage - including Ukraine and Russia - who live their passion, love and devotion to music, song and dance in peaceful coexistence every evening across political, linguistic, national, cultural or religious differences and share their enthusiasm with the audience. Many of them have been at home in Vienna for many years and are an important part of Europe. With their work they set a strong sign for peace, international understanding and bridge building between cultures.
'Russia's brutal war of aggression on Ukraine leaves us stunned day after day and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Our full solidarity goes to Ukraine and our thoughts are with all people who are currently experiencing immeasurable suffering, including families and friends of our ensemble members, staff or our guests.
'However, in the last few days we have received more and more demands not to allow the Russian members of the ensemble, the Vienna State Ballet as well as Russian guests to perform.
'We strictly reject these demands for separation as well as a world view that classifies people as "good" or "bad" only on the basis of their origin. Current developments must not lead to the exclusion of individuals from cultural creation solely on the basis of their nationality.
'Some comments are directed explicitly and in a hurtful way against artists of our institution. We reserve the right to delete these comments.'

In recent weeks, a number of Russian artists to have been declared persona non grata by Western companies. Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev have been forced to step away from the concert hall after refusing to condemn the Russian regime, and pianist Boris Berezovsky has been dropped by his agent.

In addition, two major piano competitions – the Honens International Piano Competition in Canada and the Dublin International Piano Competition – have announced that they will not be open to Russian pianists this year.

Around the world, musicians are facing calls to denounce Putin’s rule of Ukraine, with Vasily Petrenko and Thomas Sanderling stepping away from their roles at the head of Russian orchestras.

Advertisement

However, when the Cardiff Philharmonic removed Tchaikovsky from its programme in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it received a strong backlash.

Authors

Charlotte SmithEditor of BBC Music Magazine

Charlotte Smith is the editor of BBC Music Magazine. Born in Australia, she hails from a family of musicians with whom she played chamber music from a young age. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from London's Royal College of Music, followed by a master’s in English from Cambridge University. She was editor of The Strad from 2017 until the beginning of 2022, and has also worked for Gramophone Magazine and as a freelance arts writer. In her spare time, she continues to perform as an active chamber musician.

Sponsored content