Anna Netrebko Will Not Perform in Russia

By Francisco Salazar

Anna Netrebko will not sing in Russia for the time being.

In a new interview with Zeit Online, the soprano made it clear that she has no plans to sing in her home country. She said, “I have no plans at the moment to sing in Russia, not even at the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg, because I don’t think it’s the right time.”

She added, “But to be clear: I love performing in my country and I look forward to singing there again as soon as circumstances allow. I learned to sing there, I started my career there and I really appreciate singing for my audience in Russia.”

The comments come as many media sources claimed that Netrebko was set to perform at the festival.

She added that it was illegal to call the Russian invasion a “war,” emphasizing that, “the Russian news did not talk about war, but about a ‘special operation.’ Since then, it has been forbidden by law in Russia to speak of war in this context.”

When she released her third statement on March 30, the soprano caused an uproar in Russia and was even called a traitor. She said, “In Russia, people are angry that I even said anything against it. They think I’ve betrayed my homeland… I’m not a traitor to my homeland, and I’m not against Ukraine either. I try to stay human.”

When asked whether she could return to Russia, the soprano said, “I think yes. But I wouldn’t go there right now.” 

In the interview, Netrebko said she stood by her statement condemning the war saying she was against “this terrible violence” and spoke about her friends and family in Russia as well as her friends in Ukraine.

It’s quiet there,” she noted. “You live in a different world. They don’t know what’s going on here in the west. You just notice that the prices are going up, that’s all. But I also have a lot of Ukrainian friends and I worry about them. Some were able to leave the country, others not because they were drafted into the military.”

The soprano also noted that she wanted “peace again.”

The soprano also spoke about her upcoming engagements and said that she is contracted until 2027, adding that the only opera houses that canceled her contracts were the Metropolitan Opera and the Bayerische Staatsoper.

Only these two canceled the contracts. All other changes in my schedule since the beginning of the war have been made in consultation with the opera houses and organizers,” she revealed. 

The soprano added that she had never spoken with Serge Dorny, who said in an interview with Russian media that he had called her directly. Meanwhile, regarding Peter Gelb’s comments in the Guardian that “Netrebko is very close to Putin” were “shocking.” She said, “‘How does he know that? Why is he saying that?’ But I’m not mad at Peter Gelb now. We may later have the opportunity to see who did the right thing and who didn’t. Now is not the time.”

OperaWire has reached out the Bayerische Staatsoper and Met Opera for comment.