Staatsoper Unter Linden General Director Defends Anna Netrebko’s Return

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Julian Hargreaves)

Berlin Staatsoper Unter Linden’s General Director is defending his choice to bring back Anna Netrebko in a fall production of “Macbeth.”

In a recent statement, Matthias Schulz said, “Anna Netrebko is a great artist” and “she has now clearly positioned herself with her actions. As far as it was possible for her, she also showed character. I think you have to give this artist this chance. It would be fatal, especially on this cultural level, to lump everything together.”

Earlier in June of 2022, Schulz had said he would bring the soprano back after speaking with the soprano following the invasion of Ukraine. He said, “It was and is important for us to distance ourselves from the invasion, which violates international law. That’s what Anna Netrebko did with her statement at the end of March. Anna Netrebko is an outstanding singer, and she has had a long-standing artistic partnership with the State Opera. That’s why I announced at the time that I wanted to speak to her directly. That has now happened and it was an important and differentiated exchange. We are talking about performances from autumn 2023.”

The soprano was forced to withdraw in February 2022 from a production of “Turandot” due to her alleged closeness to Vladimir Putin. At the time, the State Opera said, “Anna Netrebko has withdrawn her participation in the new production of ‘Turandot’ in June 2022. This is the result after the Staatsoper Unter den Linden asked the artist to distance herself from the war that the Russian government has launched against Ukraine, which violates international law. We value Anna Netrebko as an outstanding artist and we have a long-standing artistic partnership with her. At the same time, in view of this brutal war, we see no possibility for a continuation of this collaboration. It is important for us to emphasize that Russian artists will continue to perform with us and that it is especially important now not to prejudge thoughtlessly and to strengthen the cohesion in our society. At this time, our sympathy goes unreservedly to all those who are suffering as a result of this catastrophe.”

Netrebko later released a statement in which she distanced herself from Putin in March 2022 and condemned the war on a third occasion.