Anna Netrebko’s Management Fires Back at Peter Gelb’s Latest Comments

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: tim osipov)

Peter Gelb and Anna Netrebko’s management continue to be at odds following comments by the Metropolitan Opera’s General manager in an interview with Limelight.

When asked about Evgeny Nikitin’s participation in a production of “Lohengrin” and what qualified him to perform at the Met over Anna Netrebko, Gelb said, “I think the difference is that Netrebko has demonstrated over a period of many years that she was kind of in lockstep politically and ideologically with Putin and with Gergiev, who was her mentor and discovered her. That’s a different level of commitment than singers who are just performing in Russia. We’ve had a number of Russian singers performing at the Met this season, but it’s very difficult for them to even get here.”

He added, “The American consulate will not issue visas to any Russians in Moscow, so they have to travel to another country and hope that the American consulate there will give them a visa. I feel very sorry for Russian artists. There’s a difference between enthusiastic support of Putin and being held hostage by him, and I feel like most Russian artists are in the latter camp. I can’t expect them all to defect [laughs].”

In response to Gelb’s comments Netrebko’s Manager Miguel Esteban said, “Peter Gelb continues his defamatory remarks against Anna Netrebko, despite assurances from the Metropolitan Opera’s outside counsel, Howard Z. Robbins at the law firm Proskauer Rose, that his client would cease and desist. On 30 March 2022, Anna Netrebko made a statement denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and characterizing her arm’s-length relationship with Putin; her subsequent interviews in Le Monde and Die Zeit clarified any residual misunderstandings that may have suggested otherwise. Valery Gergiev is a conductor, not a politician. Peter Gelb has not provided any material evidence to contradict Anna Netrebko’s statements.”

Nikitin, like Netrebko is a protege of Valery Gergiev, who began working at the Mariinsky Theatre when he was a student. He caused controversy in 2012 when his tattoos on his chest were shown by German media in still images from a video shot in 2006 or 2007. The tattoos suggested Nazi sympathies, which the singer subsequently denied and then released two contradictory statements. This year he performed at Victory Day in Russia, which Putin used as a day to continue to spread his misinformation about his invasion of Ukraine.

Gelb’s new statements contradict his first statement at the beginning of the war duing which he said “we can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him.” He later added that Putin signs the checks at the Russian institutes.

The Mariinsky Theatre has also served as a basis for propaganda and has ousted artists who have spoken out against the war.

Anna Netrebko has filed a grievance against the Metropolitan Opera, which the American Guild of Musical Artists is leading and according to her Manager “the arbitrator is expected to render a decision by the end of this year.”