Opera star Anna Netrebko sues the Metropolitan Opera
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one of the world’s most renowned opera singers, has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera in New York. The Met Opera, under managing director Peter Gelb, decided to ban Netrebko in early March after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying she had not done enough to disassociate herself from Putin’s regime.
The gross hypocrisy of the action aside, the Met has never responded in the same way to any of the bloody neo-colonial wars pursued by the United States over the past 30 years, and Netrebko’s exclusion creates a previous disaster. One of America’s leading arts institutions has established the principle that it will do whatever the government’s foreign policy requires, that it is entirely at the disposal of the White House and the Pentagon.
The various claims made by Gelb and the Met Opera as to Netrebko’s supposedly close relationship with Putin are a smokescreen, meant to mask the fact that he is the encounter which pursues a deeply reactionary and anti-democratic course, joining in the chauvinist and warmongering campaign against Russia. The idea that the American arts and entertainment world would “never again” succumb to the McCarthyist witch hunt, as it wholeheartedly did in the 1940s and 1950s, was refuted almost at the first opportunity.
Netrebko’s grievance relates to the circumstances of his banning by the Met. She recently said in an interview with The worldthe French daily, that in a conversation with Gelb, she agreed to withdraw from a production by Giacomo Puccini Turandot this season, but that the general manager of the Met added that of Giuseppe Verdi don carlo during the 2022-2023 season “unilaterally”.
According to Time, with the help of the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing opera singers, Netrebko “filed a labor grievance against the Met. She is expected to seek over $350,000 in compensation.
Regarding Putin and the war in Ukraine, Netrebko said The world, “The Met was the first to insist that I clarify my position. … What I have done. But I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin. I replied that I had a Russian passport, that he was still the president, and that I could not say those words publicly. So I refused. »
Netrebko added that she and Gelb agreed on the terms, but was shocked when he suggested in the New York Times that she would never return to the Metropolitan Opera.
Gelb, in an interview published June 30 by VAN magazine, the online weekly devoted to classical music, made a number of telling comments. Revealing not only for the Met Opera hierarchy and its attitudes, but also for the American upper middle class as a whole and their approval of the proxy war between the United States and NATO.
When asked if America was at war with Russia, Gelb replied, remarkably, “The Met is, and indirectly, the United States is, obviously. We cannot say that we are at war with them, but we are at war with them. The Met’s chief executive went on to say that the Russian invasion was “an action to wipe out a civilization, the entire Ukrainian people. What Putin is determined to do is unlike anything that has ever happened before, to my knowledge or experience.
Without in any way minimizing the reactionary nature of the Russian government’s operation in Ukraine, to suggest that it is “different from anything that has happened before” is absurd. Nazi Germany’s barbaric war against the USSR, aided by sections of Ukrainian nationalists, resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Soviet citizens.
More recently, deadly US government and military sanctions against the invasion, massive bombing, occupation and general destruction of Iraq have resulted in over a million deaths and the reduction of much of the country in ruins. As the WSWS has rightly argued, the Bush administration has pursued a policy of “sociicide” toward Iraq. The devastation of Afghanistan, Libya and Syria are other monumental crimes. Where was Geld looking at the time all of this was happening?
Based on the supposedly unprecedented nature of the Putin regime’s actions in Ukraine, Gelb continued: “It seemed to me that there was no way we could do business with Russia. Or with Anna Netrebko. Because, the Met’s chief executive told VAN, “Netrebko is a close personal ally of Putin, both in his deeds and in his mindset – which I know from personal experience, having spoken to him and the knowing for many, many years – what I was willing to tolerate no longer seemed tolerable Self-righteous smugness is worth noting.
The Time noted in late June that outside the United States, “Anna Netrebko’s comeback is gaining momentum. Several European institutions that had sought to distance themselves from her have recently announced their intention to hire her, some as early as next year. At the end of May, the newspaper commented, “she gave recitals in front of enthusiastic crowds in Paris and Milan, where her concert at the Teatro alla Scala ended. Italian news outlets called it a “triumph”, writing: “Anna Netrebko takes over La Scala: flowers and applause after her war break”.
OperaWire reports that the Russian soprano will “return to the Berlin State Opera” in 2023. The company’s general manager, Matthias Schulz, explained, following a 40-minute video call with Netrebko, that he “could really see that she is suffering in this situation”. Schulz added that he didn’t think “it’s appropriate to ask her to distance herself further from Putin, given the risks she might face as a Russian citizen.”
These developments are a blow to efforts to destroy Netrebko’s career in the interests of the proxy war between the United States and NATO. Various factors are probably at work. Nervousness in some European capitals about the “endless” nature of the Ukrainian conflict. There may also be growing resistance for more grounded reasons, opposition to blacklisting artists. Commercial calculations are probably also at work somewhere: Netrebko has a huge following, and the loss of the Met may be a gain for other opera companies.
Peter Gelb’s wife, Ukrainian-Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, was to conduct performances of Puccini Tosca featuring Netrebko at Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires’ main opera house, in November. Wilson bowed out. The Russian singer will apparently go ahead with her appearance.