Anna Netrebko, the superstar Russian soprano, will not appear at the Metropolitan Opera again this or next season after failing to comply with the company’s request to distance herself from Russian President Vladimir V. Putin as he wages war on Ukraine.
The end of Ms Netrebko’s engagements, which the Met announced on Thursday, came after the opera company, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said it would no longer hire performers who support Mr. Putin. While Ms Netrebko has issued statements criticizing the war in recent days, she has remained silent about the Russian president, whose re-election she has in the past supported.
“This is a great artistic loss for the Met and for the opera,” Peter Gelb, the company’s chief executive, said in a statement. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.”
Ms. Netrebko did not immediately respond to a request for comment through her representatives.
While Thursday’s announcement only covered two seasons, Mr. Gelb said in an interview Thursday that it seemed unlikely that Ms. Netrebko would ever return to sing with the company.
“It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which she will return to the Met,” he said.
Ms Netrebko’s break from the Met, where she sang nearly 200 performances over the past 20 years and became the reigning prima donna, was a stunning turnaround for one of the world’s biggest opera stars . She has occasionally expressed her support for Mr Putin over the years, and in 2014 she was photographed holding a flag used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.
His departure from America’s top performing arts institution came amid a wider backlash against some Russian artists for their ties to Mr Putin – a backlash that has raised tough questions about the extent to which arts organizations should go to demand public statements from artists.
Earlier this week Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro who has long been closely associated with Mr Putin, was removed from his role as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra after he refused to speak out against the invasion of Ukraine.
Mr. Gergiev has publicly supported Mr. Putin, including with concerts at home and abroad. In 2008 he conducted a concert in South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia, and in 2016 conducted another in Palmyra in Syria, after it was taken over by Syrian and Russian forces. His international performances have all but dried up since Russia invaded Ukraine.
As criticism of Ms Netrebko’s ties to Mr Putin grew, she abruptly canceled appearances at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Zurich Opera and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany. His public statements alternated between condemning the war and saying it was wrong to ask Russian artists to denounce their government.
On Tuesday, Ms Netrebko posted a photo on Instagram of herself with Mr Gergiev, smiling after a concert. Then, in a separate post, she wrote: “As I said, I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression and I call on Russia to end this war now, to save us all. We need peace now. Both posts were later deleted.
Russo-Ukrainian war: what you need to know
A city is captured. Russian troops took control of Kherson, the first Ukrainian city to be defeated in the war. The overrun of Kherson is important because it allows the Russians to gain more control of the southern coast of Ukraine and to push west towards the city of Odessa.
The Met announced on Sunday that it would no longer engage with performers or other institutions that have expressed support for Mr Putin. In Thursday’s interview, Mr Gelb defended the Met’s position, saying the company would still welcome many Russian artists and play Russian music. He noted that the Met is currently rehearsing a production of Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin” which features two Russian artists.
“We are not undertaking an artistic witch hunt,” he said. “We do not interview or interrogate any artist on their positions.”
The move means the Met will likely end its collaboration with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, including on a new production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” slated for next season. Mr Gelb said on Thursday that the opera had decided to build its own sets and make its own costumes for this production, tasks the Bolshoi had to take care of.
“I hope that at some point the relationship between the Met and the Bolshoi can resume,” Mr Gelb said. “But I see no present or immediate resolution. As long as Putin takes the reins, this will not happen. »
Ms. Netrebko will be replaced in future performances of Puccini’s “Turandot” by Liudmyla Monastyrska, a Ukrainian soprano. The Met did not immediately announce a replacement for her in a revival of Verdi’s “Don Carlo” next season.