Francesca Zambello Withdraws as Jury Member at Karol Szymanowski Competition Following Russian Music Ban

By Francisco Salazar

Francesca Zambello has withdrawn from the Karol Szymanowski Competition as a jury member due to the competition’s decision to ban Russian music.

In a letter to the competition, Zambello wrote, “I have just heard from Thomas Hampson about your rules for the exclusion of Russian repertory from the competition. I am against the actions of President Putin, but I am not against Russian history, music or art. I am also a recipient of the Medal for Service to Culture to Russia, presented to me by the Minister of Culture. I am also the artistic leader of the Washington National Opera representing the United States for culture.”

She concluded, “Bearing these things in mind, I have to respectfully withdraw my participation as much as  I wanted to come to Poland and work with you. I hope when peace prevails we can try again. Kind regards, Francesca.”

In a statement to OperaWire, Zambello said: “she does not believe that the Arts have borders.”

The news comes days after the competition announced that it would be banning all Russian music. In a statement, the competition said, “Given the current sensitivities in Poland to Russian culture, and as a gesture of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, it has been decided that no works by Russian composers will be performed at the 2nd Karol Szymanowski International Music Competition in Katowice. We are filled with sadness, as we remained hopeful to the very last moment that the conflict across our border would be solved peacefully and we would be able to continue organising the Competition without such decisions needing to be made.”

Zambello was set to be a jury member in the voice competition alongside Thomas Hampson, Ulrike Sych, Jadwiga Rappe, Marcin Habela, Ewa Biegas, and Dominik Licht.