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Russian singer accused of ties to Kremlin returns to Berlin Opera: report

31.03.2023 14:00
Anna Netrebko, a Russian soprano who is accused of having close ties to the Kremlin, will resume her performances at Germany's Berlin State Opera later this year, according to news outlets.
Anna Netrebko.
Anna Netrebko.Simon Wedege Petersen, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The Russian singer’s return to the Berlin Staatsoper Unter Linden was announced by the institution’s General Director Matthias Schulz, Poland's interia.pl website has reported. 

Netrebko has been booked to sing the part of Lady Macbeth in a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth, which is due to premiere in September, according to officials. 

Schulz said in a statement on Wednesday that “Anna Netrebko is a great artist,” adding that “she has now clearly positioned herself with her actions.”

The head of the Berlin Staatsoper stated: “As far as it was possible for her, she also showed character. I think you have to give this artist this chance. It would be fatal, especially on this cultural level, to lump everything together.”

Controversy over Netrebko’s alleged links to Putin

Following Russia’s full-blown invasion of Ukraine in February last year, Netrebko was forced to withdraw from the Berlin State Opera’s production of Turandot by Giacomo Puccini, over her alleged links to President Vladimir Putin, according to news outlets. 

In previous years, the opera star had openly supported Russia’s military operations in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas, interia.pl reported.

In 2014, Netrebko handed the Kremlin-backed separatists in Donbas a cheque for 1 million roubles, officially for opera and ballet activities in Donetsk City, according to news reports. 

In February 2022, the Berlin State Opera asked her “to distance herself from the war that the Russian government has launched against Ukraine, which violates international law,” according to a statement at the time. 

New York’s Metropolitan Opera made a similar request, but Netrebko for a long time refused to speak publicly about the war in Ukraine, and consequently lost contracts with both institutions, and "throughout the world,” interia.pl reported.

Defending her refusal to denounce Putin, Netrebko said on social media at the time that she was “an apolitical person.”

She added that public figures should not be forced “to publicise their political views and offend their homeland,” according to interia.pl.   

Changes at Berlin Opera

This week’s decision to bring back Anna Netrebko comes during a period of significant change at the Berlin State Opera, interia.pl reported.

In January, its long-standing General Music Director Daniel Barenboim stepped down from his role for health reasons.

Meanwhile, Schulz will leave the post of General Director at the end of the year to become artistic director of the Zürich Opera in Switzerland. 

He is set to be replaced in Berlin by Elisabeth Sobotka, the current artistic director of the Bregenz Festival in Austria, interia.pl reported.   

Friday is day 401 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: interia.pl, Opera Wire