Anna Netrebko Files Amended Lawsuit Against Metropolitan Opera & Peter Gelb

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Tim Osipov)

Anna Netrebko has filed an amendment to her lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera and its General Manager Peter Gelb.

In a statement, the soprano’s manager Miguel Esteban said, “Today in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Anna Netrebko filed an amended complaint against the Metropolitan Opera and Peter Gelb. It responds to arguments raised by the Met in a letter between the lawyers which, according to the court’s rules, must be exchanged before the Met can make a motion with the court to dismiss the complaint. The principal amendments introduce a cause of national origin plus gender discrimination, clarify that there is both direct evidence and substantial circumstantial evidence that the Met terminated its relationship with Anna Netrebko because she is a Russian woman, and clarify that this complaint does not re-adjudicate the matters previously judged during the arbitration brought by the American Guild of Musical Artists.”

In the amended lawsuit filed on August 31, Netrebko refutes Gelb’s repeated statements that she is “closely associated with Putin” and that she “is a close personal ally of Putin, both in her actions and her mindset.” She states in the lawsuit that she “is not associated with Putin and is not closely or inextricably associated with Putin,” she “is not an ally of Putin and is not a close personal ally of Putin,” nor is she “associated with Putin and has not demonstrated through actions or ideology that she is inextricably associated with Putin.” Additionally, the soprano said, she “is not a political or ideological supporter of Putin, is not a huge Putin supporter, and has not demonstrated that she is a political acolyte of Putin or that she is in political or ideological lockstep with Putin.”

The soprano also argues that Met and Gelb discriminated against her when they asked her to make an anti-war repudiating Putin. She 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.”

The amended lawsuit also notes that even after the Met had made an anti-Putin policy, it “did not terminate its contracts and relationships with similarly situated Russian male artists. Upon information and belief, to this day the Met has continued its contracts and relationships with male Russian artists who were publicly reported to have received support from, and/or expressed support for, the Putin government, including by performing at Russian state-funded theaters and/or performing at Russian political events.”

The lawsuit also noted that Gelb and  the Metropolitan Opera put her extended family and friends at risk and that “Gelb has worked closely with Russian artists and/or arts organizations for more than forty years, and thus knows or should know the political realities and challenges for Russian artists.” The lawsuit mentions the Metropolitan Opera and the Bolshoi Theatre’s 2017 deal for three co-productions that Putin reportedly gave his “blessing” to.

Netrebko sued the Metropolitan Opera on August 4, 2023, and is seeking  $360,000 in “damages for lost performance and rehearsal fees” as well as remuneration for ”severe mental anguish and emotional distress” that included “depression, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, and emotional pain and suffering.”