The decision has caused protests, including from Belgium’s Ukrainian community, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported on Tuesday.
But the director of the Belgian national opera, Peter de Caluwe, argues that Russian culture is part of Europe's common heritage.
“European art, literature and music will always be linked to Russian culture, which has been an inspiration to many on our continent,” de Caluwe wrote in a statement. "We cannot erase history, Russian repertoire should not be banned."
He added that Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, who are prominently featured in the repertoire, have “themselves suffered enough under the political conditions of their time” and “should not be banned once more just because a dictator has lost his senses.”
Meanwhile, activists from Promote Ukraine, an international NGO committed to educating people across Europe on Ukraine, say they are not convinced.
They are set to picket the opera house on Friday when it inaugurates Tchaikovsky’s Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) sung in Russian, according to The Brussels Times newspaper.
“What is happening in Ukraine now is the culmination of a decades-long campaign waged on the political and cultural front to negate Ukrainian nationhood," Promote Ukraine said in an open letter, as quoted by The Brussels Times. "... Can there be Pique Dame after Bucha or Mariupol?"
The new repertoire was announced at a time when more Russian crimes against Ukrainian civilians were being revealed, the IAR news agency reported.
Since the beginning of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many cultural institutions in Europe have completely dropped Russian repertoire and severed their ties with Russian cultural centers, according to the news agency.
Source: IAR, brusselstimes.com