Berlin State Opera Defends Anna Netrebko’s ‘Macbeth’ Performances & Reiterates Support for Ukraine

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Marty Sohl / Metropolitan Opera)

The Berlin State Opera has released a statement defending Anna Netrebko’s performances this September in a revival production of “Macbeth.”

Following a petition against the Russian soprano, the opera house said, “Since we value the artistic personality Anna Netrebko, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest voices of our time, and we have a long-standing partnership with her, we announced that we would seek dialogue with her. This took place between the director, the artist and her management and the director was able to get a personal impression of the authenticity of her information.”

The statement added, “It is important to take a differentiated approach here and to distinguish between before and after the outbreak of war. Since then, Anna Netrebko has not accepted any engagements in Russia and her management has confirmed to us that there are still no plans for any appearances in Russia. She has taken a clear position and distanced herself both through her statement and through her actions since the outbreak of war. That has to be acknowledged.”

It concluded, “In addition, Anna Netrebko knows our clearly pro-Ukrainian position as a stage. Under these circumstances, we believe that this artist should be given a chance and not withheld from the public. As a house, full solidarity with Ukraine is extremely important to us on the one hand, and treating our artists responsibly on the other. As an opera house, we try with all our strength to enter into a dialogue, to connect people in the experience of music, not to incite against each other. Our solidarity and our sympathy go unreservedly to all those who have suffered from this catastrophe at this time.

The statement also noted that the Berlin State Opera has demonstrated its pro-Ukraine stance since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24, 2022 and expressed its full solidarity for Ukraine through the concert for peace in the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in favor of humanitarian aid for the Ukrainians on March 6, 2022; through the German premiere of the documentary “Oh, Sister!”, in the presence of the Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matwijtschuk and the Ukrainian Ambassador in December 2022; and through the visualization of our solidarity with the colors of Ukraine and other signs.

As noted earlier this year, the Berlin State Opera reiterated that Netrebko and the management of the Berlin State Opera have had very differentiated discussions since the beginning of the war and had mutually agreed that she would not be involved in the new “Turandot” production in June 2022 and all future engagements were also put to the test. The company noted, “that without a clear positioning of the artist, further cooperation for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden was and would not be sustainable.”

However, the company’s position changed when Netrebko released her statement on March 30, 2022, distancing herself from Putin. It also referred to her interview with Zeit in which Netrebko 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.”

Netrebko’s management also released a statement alongside Berlin’s noting, “Anna Netrebko looks forward to returning to the Staatsoper Berlin in a revival of a production of Macbeth that she premiered in 2018. She is grateful for the open dialogue that Intendant Matthias Schulz has had with her since early last year. In March 2022, for the first time, Anna Netrebko described her arm’s-length contacts with the Russian government and confirmed that she had never campaigned for it. The evidence used against Anna Netrebko – the flag unexpectedly unfurled during an ad hoc photo op, the 50th birthday party at the State Kremlin Palace promoted by an outside producer, etc. – is circumstantial and yet often left unchallenged, while Anna Netrebko has gone on the record to explain these disparate incidents with verifiable proof. Since February 2022, Anna Netrebko’s statements, her two major press interviews, her actions and her management’s ongoing correction of disinformation in the media collectively represent a body of substantial evidence against the baseless allegations directed at her. They establish that Anna Netrebko does not have a relationship with the Russian government nor any connection with the tragic war in Ukraine. Certain people have made unsuccessful attempts to assign different roles to Anna Netrebko, but there is in fact only one that truly fits: that of a singer. Which is what she looks forward to doing for the audiences in Berlin next month.”