Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked a protest from one of the world’s most veritable art institutions.
The Metropolitan Opera vowed to no longer engage with artists or institutions supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“As an international opera company, the Met can help ring the alarm and contribute to the fight against oppression,” the Met’s General Manager Peter Gelb said in a video shared on Facebook Sunday. “While we believe strongly in the warm friendship and cultural exchange that has long existed between the artists and artistic institutions of 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 killing has been stopped, order has been restored, and restitutions have been made.”
No artists were mentioned by name, but the legendary opera house had ties with principal guest conductor Valery Gergiev – who has often supported Putin in the media, backing his controversial policies in Crimea.
Gelb said Putin “seems intent on the destruction of Ukraine, its people and all personal freedom in Ukraine and in Russia.”
Carnegie Hall canceled the May 3 performance by the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by Gergiev “due to recent world events as well as ongoing challenges related to the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has also performed at the Lincoln Center-based company as recently as February 2021.
“I have taken some time to reflect because I think the situation is too serious to comment on without really giving it thought,” the pro-Putin singer wrote on Instagram.
“I am opposed to this war,” she continued. “I am Russian and I love my country but I have many friends in Ukraine and the pain and suffering right now breaks my heart. I want this war to end and for people to be able to live in peace. This is what I hope and pray for. I want to add, however, that forcing artists, or any public figure to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right. This should be a free choice. I am not a political person. I am not an expert in politics. I am an artist and my purpose is to unite across political divides.”
Netrebko, once photographed holding a flag used by some Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine, is scheduled to appear at the Met in Puccini’s “Turandot” beginning on April 30.
“The Metropolitan Opera opens its heart to the victims of the unprovoked war in Ukraine and salutes the heroism of the Ukrainian people,” Gelb said.