Anna Netrebko’s Manager Responds to Peter Gelb’s Recent Comments in Diapason

By Francisco Salazar

Anna Netrebko’s manager has responded to Peter Gelb’s latest comments regarding the diva in a May 2024 interview with Diapason.

In a recent issue with the French magazine, Miguel Esteban, Netrebko’s manager said,  “Peter Gelb insinuates that he has private information, but in reality, Anna Netrebko’s opinion on Putin and the war in Ukraine is public. In her March 30, 2022 statement, Anna Netrebko clarified that she was at arm’s length from Putin or the Russian government. She declared her opposition to the war on February 26, 2022, two days after the start of the conflict, and again on March 1 and 30, 2022. Anna Netrebko has stated that she loves her home country (even though she kept her word and has not set foot there since February 2022) but she has never used the words that Peter Gelb attributes to her (“I support my country.”).”

He added, “Peter Gelb claims to be referring to comments allegedly made in a telephone conversation on March 2, 2022 and for which there are no other witnesses. In 2022, in the newspapers, Le Monde and Die Zeit, Anna Netrebko gave a completely different version of the content of the conversation: Peter Gelb insisted that she use certain words to denounce Putin, but she explained to him that she did not, could not do so as a Russian citizen. The lawsuit filed by Anna Netrebko in the United States against the Met and Peter Gelb is only in its early stages and remains pending before the court. She brought the action in good faith and with complete confidence in her claims. Peter Gelb’s stated confidence is possibly contradicted by the fact that he and the Met have just doubled the number of lawyers representing them in this case.”

Esteban’s comments come after Gelb said, “The Met has always been consistent: from the start of the invasion, we adopted a strong position and we stick to it. Regarding Netrebko, having seen her a lot during the seasons when she was present at the Met more than anywhere else, I know her opinion on Putin and the war very well. When I gave her an ultimatum, she clearly told me: ‘I support my country.’ But the Met supports Ukraine, we have cut our relations with the Bolshoi and any organization helped by Putin. However, Russian artists are welcome at the Met, as long as they do not publicly speak out in favor of Putin. Netrebko filed suit against the Met, and against me personally. But I believe that this action has no chance of succeeding and that she will lose.”

The soprano filed a lawsuit in August 2023 alleging defamation, breach of contract, and other violations related to the institution’s decision to fire her following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Met has said that the lawsuit has no merit.

According to public legal documents obtained by OperaWire, the Met has hired six lawyers from the Lewis Brisbois and the Proskauer Rose law firms to work on the lawsuit versus the soprano’s single lawyer. This season, the Met announced it was withdrawing $40 million from its endowment for additional emergency funds and while it saw an increase in its audience, it saw all its contemporary operas underperform on average.

Netrebko is currently performing at the Teatro alla Scala in an eight-performance run of “Turandot” that has been announced as sold out.