Metropolitan Opera says it won’t work with pro-Putin performers

Written by Scottie Andrew, CNN

The Metropolitan Opera in New York has announced that it will not work with Russian artists and organizations that support President Vladimir Putin until the country’s invasion of Ukraine ends.

Peter Gelb, chief executive of the Met, said the opera house, which hosts dozens of international performers each season, can “help raise the alarm and contribute to the fight against oppression”.

“While we strongly believe in the warm friendship and cultural exchange that has long existed between artists and art institutions in Russia and the United States, we can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him — not until the invasion and the killings were stopped, order was restored and restitutions were made,” Gelb said in a video message shared to Facebook on Sunday.
Gelb told the New York Times that the Met’s relationship with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, with which the opera company planned to present a production of “Lohengrin” next month, would likely end for now. The Bolshoi has long been tied to and controlled by the Russian government, according to Simon Morrison, a music professor at Princeton University who has written a book on the history of the theatre.

“It’s terrible that artistic relationships, at least temporarily, are collateral damage from these actions of Putin,” Gelb told The Times.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has violently upended the eastern European country’s major cities, leaving at least 102 civilians dead and 304 injured, though the true figure is likely much higher, said a UN official on Monday. More than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine so far.
The change could also impact stars like Anna Netrebko, who is set to play the title role in “Turandot” later this spring. In 2014, she donated to the Donetsk Opera Theater, which operates in Donetsk, a breakaway state located in Ukraine and supported by Russia. Putin also awarded him the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2005.
Netrebko, in an Instagram post, said that although she is “opposed to this war”, she is “not a political person” and that “forcing artists” to share their opinions on political issues is not “not fair”.
Carnegie Hall, also in Manhattan, announced last week that it had canceled performances by Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, whose friendship with Putin spans decades, NPR reported in 2014. Gergiev also supported Putin’s policies that restrict the rights of LGBTQ citizens, which has led to protests against the conductor at arts venues in previous years.


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