Staatstheater Wiesbaden Announces Anna Netrebko for International May Festival; City & State Respond

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: tim osipov)

Following the announcement that Anna Netrebko would make her role debut in “Nabucco” at the International May Festival in Wiesbaden, the city of Wiesbaden and the state of Hesse have spoken out against the performances.

In a press release, the Staastheater Wiesbaden said, “The theme of the International May Festival 2023 is political prisoners. Anna Netrebko will make her debut as Abigaille in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera ‘Nabucco’ on May 5th and 7th, 2023 at the International May Festival in the state capital of Wiesbaden. Željko Lučić plays the title character and Michael Güttler, who is currently making his debut at La Scala, is at the podium, and the other roles are sung by Ioan Hotea, Young Doo Park, and Silvia Hauer.”

The press release added, “We in the Western world, who are currently experiencing how our freedom in Ukraine, unfortunately, has to be defended with weapons and human lives, must never exclude artists and people who belong to us and who we support in the fight against unjust regimes such as that of Vladimir Putin, urgently need on our side. In our common fight against injustice and arbitrariness, all Russian people should be just as welcome as all Ukrainian people and those of all other nations.”

The Staatstheater also noted that the festival will open with Janáček’s “The Makropulos Affair” and “From the House of the Dead.” The company also added that there will be two Ukrainian productions on May 9 with the Taras Shevchenko Theater from Kharkiv with Camus’ play “Caligula” and on May 24 the Ukrainian National Orchestra will present Verdi’s “Requiem.”

The festival also said that it was dedicating its festival to all political prisoners in this world, including: Marina Kalesnikova, Sergei Tishanovsky and Roman Protasevich (Belarus), Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin and Vladimir Kara-Mursa (Russia), Joshua Wong (Hong Kong/China), Osman Kavala (Turkey), Nazi Fateme Habibi and Nahid Taghvi (Iran).

In response to the announcement, the state and city said, “The Artistic Director of the International May Festival dedicates the International May Festival 2023 to those who are in prison because of their opinions. Among others, he mentions the Russian activist Alexei Anatolyevich Navalny. The country where he is in prison is currently waging a war of aggression against Ukraine. People are dying every day. In view of these facts, it is impossible to explain to our Ukrainian friends why the opera singer Anna Yuryevna Netrebko is to perform at the International May Festival. This behavior is highly insensitive. Netrebko is on a Ukraine sanctions list and has not distanced herself from Putin and his regime to date. We have asked the Intendant to refrain from Ms. Netrebko. Unfortunately unsuccessfully.”