Diva backs away from dictator


Anna Netrebko, the Russian soprano whose public ambivalence over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine left her international career in limbo, has gingerly joined the resistance.

“I am not a member of any political party nor am I allied with any leader of Russia,” Netrebko said in a social-media post. “I expressly condemn the war on Ukraine and my thoughts are with the victims of this war and their families.”

The singer “did not explicitly criticize Mr. Putin, and did not directly address her previous record of support for him,” The New York Times’ Javier C. Hernández reports, recalling that Netrebko “once endorsed Mr. Putin’s re-election and has over the years offered support for his leadership. In 2014, she was photographed holding a flag used by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine.”

New York’s Metropolitan Opera, which has frequently engaged Netrebko, deems her latest disclaimer insufficient. The company’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said in a statement: “If Anna demonstrates that she has truly and completely disassociated herself from Putin over the long term, I would be willing to have a conversation.”

Netrebko, who in previous comments has characterized herself as a patriotic Russian, notes in her latest posting that she is a “tax resident in Austria.” She said that she plans to resume work in Europe in May, Hernández reports:

UPDATE (April 1): Norman Lebrecht, on his Slipped Disc blog, reports that the State Opera and Ballet Theatre in Novosibirsk, Siberia, has canceled a concert by Netrebko scheduled for June, citing her “statement condemning the actions of our state. Living in Europe and the opportunity to perform at European venues turned out to be more important for her than the fate of the Motherland.

“Today is not the time to sacrifice principles for more comfortable living conditions. Now is the time to make a choice.”

Lebrecht cautions: “[T]his announcement may not be what it seems. It could be that friends in Russia are seeking to revive Netrebko’s career abroad by pretending she is non grata at home. It could also be a warning to her from powerful friends to tone down her public statements.”

Just in: Anna Netrebko is cancelled in Russia