Bayerische Staatsoper General Director Serge Dorny Tricked by Russian Pranksters

By Francisco Salazar

The Bayerische Staatsoper’s General Director Serge Dorny was tricked by a Russian comedian duo “Wowan and Lexus” into making comments about Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev on Russian state TV.

During the interview, the duo, whose names are Vladimir Kuznetsow and Alexei Stolyarow,  posed as the “Ukrainian Minister of Culture” to inquire about the current status of the “abolition of Russian culture.”

The duo work on behalf of the Russian TV channel “Starhit” and reported the interview for Russian audiences to see. According to reports, Dorny boasted about throwing out Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev.

He said, “Despite the fact that he is my very good friend, I had Valery Gergiev thrown out. Even though we’ve known each other for 35 years. I also parted ways with Anna Netrebko and a ballet director who is very close to the regime. People should be judged differently. I don’t want to see artists like that with us.”

He added, “We have no plans to work with Netrebko in the future. We have renounced that. I told her on the phone: ‘You went to Donetsk, you collected donations. And now you explain that you weren’t involved? You’re either in or out of politics, depending on whether it’s profitable for you. I don’t understand.” In any case, Netrebko reacted ‘too late.'”

Dorny is currently under fire for his comments suggesting that “people  should be divided on their views and attitudes towards Russia.” Viewers of the “Starhit” show received Dorny’s comments with boos and artists such as composer Yuriy B. Šerling and Deputy Duma Speaker Boris Chernyshev noted, “I started my career in the same theater as Anna Netrebko. It doesn’t matter what happens, we have to stay human. Creative people should generally stay out of politics, what does Netrebko have to do with it?” Others labeled Dorney a “fascist,” “small-minded,” or “half-hearted” and noted that he had “exposed himself.”

Dorny’s comments on Netrebko also contradict what he told BR Klassik on May 6 when the Munich Opera’s new season was released. He said, “I’ll wait and see. Also to be able to assess the contradictory statements made by these posts. So far, Anna Netrebko is not in our schedule. Let’s see how things develop. But I have certain reservations and I want to be clear about it and see how the action really is.”

Dorny’s comments also arrive as the Bayerische Staatsoper continues to host singers performing at the Mariinsky Theatre under Gergiev and the Bolshoi Theatre. These singers include Ekaterina Semenchuk, Maxim Paster, and Igor Golovatenko, among others. OperaWire has asked for a comment on this matter but has not received an answer.

Netrebko has since distanced herself from Putin and has condemned the war three times.