Metropolitan Opera Star Evgeny Nikitin to Perform on Victory Day at Mariinsky Theatre

By Francisco Salazar

Metropolitan Opera star Evgeny Nikitin is set to star in the Mariinsky Theatre’s “Prince Igor” on Victory Day.

The bass, who has been performing in Russia throughout the past month, will take on the lead role on the Russian holiday, which commemorates the defeat of the Nazis in 1945.

However, unlike in past years, this year Russia invaded Ukraine and many directors and conductors have spoken out against the war. Even the founders of the “Immortal Regiment” march in Moscow, which commemorates Victory Day, distanced themselves from the event arguing it was now too political.

President Vladimir Putin joined the annual march carrying a portrait of his father, who fought in World War II. Later the president, gave a speech at Red Square, where he stated, “I am now addressing our Armed Forces and the Donbas volunteers. You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of the Second World War. So that there is no place in the world for executioners, punishes, and Nazis.”

During his remarks, Putin also faulted the West for the war and added, that “the United States, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, began talking about its exclusivity, abasing not only the whole world but also its satellites, which have to pretend that they don’t see anything and obediently swallow it up. But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never abandon our love for the Motherland, our faith and traditional values, the customs of our ancestors, and our respect for all peoples and cultures.

Leading up to the day, many pundits believed that Putin would declare war on Ukraine. However, he did not.

Last month Nikitin performed alongside pro-Putin supporter Valery Gergiev in performances of “Iolanta,” “Parsifal,” and the final part of The Ring Cycle at the Zaryadye concert hall in Moscow. This month he is set to perform in “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and “Simon Boccanegra” at the St. Petersburg Hous, which is a state-funded opera company led by Gergiev, one of Putin’s closet allies.

Nikitin is still slated to perform at the Metropolitan Opera next season in a new production of “Lohengrin,” even though General Manager Peter Gelb said that the company, “can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him. Not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made.”

The General Manager later went on to say that he would respect the privacy of artists and their political views as long as they were not public about their politics. While Nikitin has not been outspoken about his politics, he has surely been involved in controversy and a performance this year on Victory Day has very different implications.