By Sigurd Neubauer
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera in New York over alleged defamation and breach of contract after it dropped her shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She’s seeking at least $360,000 in damages for lost performance and rehearsal fees.
Netrebko is one of the most beloved opera stars of our generation. The Russian is a prima donna whose ‘rags to riches’ story is not only inspirational but has been a regular fixture at the Met since 2002.
Netrebko is “known for her dark lustrous voice, her compelling dramatic characterizations, and her alluring stage presence,” according to Britannica.
This is not the first time – nor will it be the last – that the venerable New York institution has had to part ways with some of the greatest opera stars of the day.
But in the case of Netrebko, she alleges that she was fired for not publicly denouncing President Vladimir Putin of Russia.
It is extremely dangerous for any Russian to criticize his or her government. Criticism of Putin’s brutal war is off-limits.
While we’re not privy to any private conversations between Netrebko and the Met leading up to their dispute, it is worthwhile pointing out that this week two of Russia’s most prominent tennis players, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, met at the unfolding US Open.
Medvedev will be facing Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open semifinal on Friday. The US government has not barred Russian athletes from competing in the United States.
Numerous Russian athletes continue to play in the National Hockey League as well. To our knowledge, no Russian athlete has been required by their teams to publicly denounce Putin and his war.
On these pages, we support NATO as it provides the only framework for protecting Western Civilization as we know it from external enemies and strategic competitors. Russia is a historic enemy of Europe and China is a strategic competitor of the U.S.
The obvious question is: has the Met placed an undue burden on Netrebko by forcing her to publicly denounce Putin and his war, a standard that has not been applied to Russian athletes competing in the United States?
Netrebko argues that “the Met did not require any other artists to make such a statement and the Met took adverse actions even after Netrebko attempted to comply with the Met’s requirements to the fullest extent possible for her as a Russian citizen.”
Perceptions matter, especially during a time of heightened U.S. domestic polarization over culture.
Netrebko’s dispute with the Met is now of geopolitical significance. Opera fans deserve an answer as to why the Met separated from Netrebko.
Netrebko is known for her dark lustrous voice, her compelling dramatic characterizations, and her alluring stage presence: Britannica
Has the Met placed an undue burden on Netrebko by forcing her to publicly denounce Putin and his war, a standard that has not been applied to Russian athletes competing in the United States?