Ukrainian Soprano Who Replaced Russian Superstar At The Met Emerged In Flag

Published: May 3, 2022
Updated: May 3, 2022
Anna Netrebko
Ukrainian Soprano Who Replaced Russian Superstar

Ukrainian Soprano Emerged In Flag After Replacing Russian Superstar At The Met

For her curtain call, soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska, who was filling in for Russian superstar Anna Netrebko at the Met in “Turandot,” wrapped herself in a Ukrainian flag.

Anna Netrebko, a Russian diva whose international career has recently crumbled due to her past support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, attempted to distance herself from him on Wednesday, saying they had only met a few times.

Netrebko’s performances at the Metropolitan Opera, where she has sung for 20 years and is the reigning prima donna, have been canceled indefinitely since the war began.

Other major opera houses, such as those in Munich and Zurich, have also canceled upcoming performances. In an apparent attempt to stage a comeback, Netrebko issued a statement on Wednesday distancing herself from Putin in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I am not a member of any political party, nor am I associated with any Russian leader,” Netrebko said in a statement shared on social media.

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“I expressly condemn the war on Ukraine,” Netrebko wrote, “and my thoughts are with the victims of this war and their families,” but she did not directly criticize Putin or address her previous support for him.

“I acknowledge and regret that my previous actions or statements may have been misinterpreted,” said Netrebko, who once endorsed Putin’s re-election and has offered support for his leadership over the years. She was photographed in 2014 holding a flag used by separatists in Ukraine backed by Russia.

One of the most visible consequences of Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine late last month has been the collapse of Netrebko’s career, which was once one of the biggest stars in opera.

Since the invasion, Netrebko is one of a handful of Russian artists with ties to Putin whose international engagements have dried up. 

Valery Gergiev, a Russian conductor who has been a longtime friend and supporter of Putin, was fired as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic earlier this month and has been barred from performing at many concert halls and festivals outside Russia.

Netrebko stated in her statement that she plans to resume performing in Europe in late May. “Soon, I will be back to work,” she wrote in an Instagram post this week, showing pictures of herself in the desert. To be honest, I’m not really missing it.”

soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska

The Metropolitan Opera, which has a policy of refusing to work with performers or institutions that express support for Putin while continuing to perform Russian repertory and present Russian artists, said Netrebko’s new statement was insufficient.

The Mets’ general manager, Peter Gelb, said in a statement, “We’re not prepared to change our position.” “I would be willing to have a conversation with Anna if she can show that she has truly and completely disassociated herself from Putin over the long term.”

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Requests for comment from the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Zurich Opera were not immediately returned. The director of the Paris Opera, Alexander Neef, said in a statement that the opera was evaluating the situation. Netrebko is scheduled to appear in a production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” later this year.

Before Netrebko’s statement, Neef said at a press conference on Wednesday that the opera house would not feature artists who have shown “clear support for the actions of the current regime in Russia.”

Netrebko made statements critical of the war at the start of the invasion, but she also said she didn’t believe it was right to force artists to express political opinions or “denounce their homeland.” 

She once shared a text in which she used an expletive to refer to her Western critics, calling them “as evil as blind aggressors.” She remained deafeningly silent on Putin.

Netrebko reiterated her opposition to the war in a statement released on Wednesday. “I love my homeland of Russia,” she continued, “and only seek peace and unity through my art.”

On Friday, Putin slammed Western leaders for what he called a campaign to erase Russian culture and history, claiming that composers such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff were being dropped from programs, despite the fact that the vast majority of orchestras and opera houses in the West continue to feature Russian works and artists prominently. 

The Met launched a revival of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” that night, featuring Russian, Ukrainian, American, French Armenian, Polish, and Estonian performers.

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