Metropolitan Opera says it will cut ties with pro-Putin artists
The Metropolitan Opera said on Sunday it would no longer engage with artists or other institutions that have expressed support for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, becoming the latest cultural organization to seek to distance itself from certain Russian artists in the midst of Mr. Putin’s invasion. Ukraine.
Peter Gelb, chief executive of the Met, said the Met, which has a long history of employing Russians as top singers and has a production partnership with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, had an obligation to show its support for the Ukrainian people.
“While we firmly believe in the warm friendship and cultural exchanges that have long existed between artists and art institutions in Russia and the United States,” Mr. Gelb said in a video statement, “we can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him.
Mr Gelb added that the policy would be in effect “until the invasion and the killings have been stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made”.
The Met’s decision could affect artists like superstar soprano Anna Netrebko, who has links to Mr Putin and has previously been photographed holding a flag used by some Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine. Ms Netrebko is due to appear at the Met in Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ from April 30.
Ms Netrebko has tried to distance herself from the invasion, posting a statement on Instagram on Saturday saying she was “opposed to this war”. She added a note of defiance, writing that “forcing artists, or any public figure, to express their political views in public and denounce their homeland is not right.”
It was unclear whether his statement would pass the Met’s new test.
The company’s decision will also likely mean the end of its collaboration with the Bolshoi, including on a new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” which is slated for next season. The Met relied on the Bolshoi for stage sets and costumes, but now it may have to change course.
“We’re scrambling, but I think we’ll have no choice but to physically build our own sets and costumes,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview Sunday night.
He added that he was saddened that the partnership with the Bolshoi, which began five years ago, is likely to end – at least for now.
“It’s terrible that artistic relationships, at least temporarily, are the collateral damage of these actions of Putin,” he said.
Understanding the Russian attack on Ukraine
What is behind this invasion? Russia sees Ukraine as part of its natural sphere of influence, and it worries about Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of the country joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not part of either, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
The Met’s decision comes as performing arts institutions grapple with the continued fallout from Mr Putin’s invasion. In recent days, Russian artists, long ubiquitous in classical music, have come under pressure to condemn Mr Putin’s actions or face the prospect of canceled engagements.
Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic last week dismissed two Russian artists, conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev, from a series of planned concerts because of the pair’s ties to Mr Putin . Mr Gergiev is also at risk of losing several key positions, including that of conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra and honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
On Sunday, Mr Gergiev’s manager announced he was ending his relationship with his client.
“It has become impossible for us, and clearly inappropriate, to defend the interests of Maestro Gergiev, one of the greatest conductors of all time, a visionary artist loved and admired by many of us, who does not want not, or cannot, publicly end his career. longtime support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes,” the official, Munich-based Marcus Felsner, said in a statement.
The Royal Opera House in London announced on Friday that it would cancel a Bolshoi Ballet residency scheduled for this summer.