Anna Netrebko, the world-renowned Russian soprano, will no longer perform at the Metropolitan Opera this season or next season after she refused to comply with the company’s request that she distance herself from Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who is currently waging war in Ukraine, according to the company.
The Met said on Thursday that Ms. Netrebko’s engagements had come to an end, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the reason for its decision not to recruit artists who support President Vladimir Putin. While Ms. Netrebko has delivered remarks in recent days condemning the war, she has stayed deafeningly mute on the Russian president, whose re-election she had previously applauded.
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said in a statement that the decision was “a profound creative loss for the Met and for opera.” “Anna is one of the finest vocalists in the history of the Metropolitan Opera, but with Putin slaughtering innocent civilians in Ukraine, there was no other option.”
Through her agents, Ms. Netrebko did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the situation.
Despite the fact that the announcement on Thursday was for just two seasons, Mr. Gelb said in an interview on Thursday that it was improbable that Ms. Netrebko would ever return to perform with the company in the future.
Ms. Netrebko’s departure from the Metropolitan Opera, where she had performed almost 200 times over the previous 20 years and had risen to the position of reigning prima donna, was a startling reversal for one of the world’s most famous opera singers. She has shown sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin on many occasions over the years, and in 2014, she was pictured with a banner that was used by Russian-backed rebels in the Ukrainian conflict.
In the wake of a larger reaction against certain Russian artists for their links to President Vladimir Putin, her resignation from America’s greatest performing arts institution has prompted thorny concerns about how far arts organisations should go in seeking public pronouncements from artists.
Valery Gergiev, the renowned Russian conductor who has long been connected with President Vladimir Putin, was fired from his position as head conductor of the Munich Philharmonic earlier this week after refusing to condemn the invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Gergiev has openly backed Mr. Putin, notably with performances in the United States and other countries. As part of the reunification of Georgia, he performed in South Ossetia in 2008. He also performed at Palmyra in Syria, after the city’s recapture by Syrian and Russian troops, in 2016 and in 2008. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, his worldwide appearances have all but dried up completely.
She hastily cancelled performances at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, as well as at the Zurich Opera and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany, as the public’s outcry over her links to Russian President Vladimir Putin got louder. As a result of her public views, she has alternated between denouncing the war and stating that it was inappropriate for Russian artists to be asked to repudiate their country.
On Tuesday, Ms. Netrebko shared a photo on Instagram of herself and Mr. Gergiev, both of whom were beaming after a performance. In a second post, she said: “As I have already stated, I am against to this stupid war of aggression, and I am calling on Russia to put an immediate halt to this conflict, in order to save us all. “Right now, we need peace.” Both postings were eventually removed from the site.
The Metropolitan Opera stated on Sunday that it will no longer collaborate with singers or other organisations that have shown support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Thursday, Mr. Gelb defended the Met’s position, asserting that the organisation will continue to invite numerous Russian performers and to play Russian music. He said that the Metropolitan Opera was now preparing a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin,” which would include numerous Russian performers, as part of its season.
As a result of the decision, the Metropolitan Opera will likely discontinue its relationship with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, which includes a new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” set for the next season. During a press conference on Thursday, Mr. Gelb said that the opera house had opted to construct its own sets and produce its own costumes for that show, chores that had been supposed to be handled by the Bolshoi.
During the future performances of Puccini’s “Turandot,” Liudmyla Monastyrska, a Ukrainian soprano, will take over for Ms. Netrebko’s role as Turandot. The Metropolitan Opera has not yet announced who will take her place in a rendition of Verdi’s “Don Carlo” that will take place next season.