Stuttgart’s Ministry of Finance Denies Anna Netrebko Access to Schlossplatz Stuttgart

By Francisco Salazar

The Ministry of Finance in Stuttgart, Danyal Bayaz is denying Anna Netrebko access to perform at the Schlossplatz Stuttgart on Sept. 3 because she has not distanced herself enough from Putin.

The Minister said in a German newspaper that the venue is owned by the state of Baden-Württemberg and as such,  it would not tolerate the soprano performing there while the war in Ukraine was still raging.

The concert has not been officially canceled as Christian Doll, the managing director of C2 Concerts, is still waiting for an email from the Ministry of Finance. According to the Stuttgart press, Doll found out about the issue by telephone and from the newspaper and has not received a written justification from the state.

The press is also reporting that Sebastian Engelmann, spokesman for Finance Minister Danyal Bayaz, apologized for delaying the written notification of the state’s decision due to staff shortages.

The concert is currently almost sold out and the public prosecutor’s office in Stuttgart has received a criminal complaint against the Minister of Finance “for coercing the Russian opera singer according to Article 240 of the Criminal Code.”

According to the criminal complaint, the Green politician is violating the “constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.” In response to the complaint, Engelmann noted that the Ministry will not comment on this criminal complaint.

Netrebko distanced herself from Putin in late March and was promptly criticized in Russia with concert halls canceling her performances in her homeland. The soprano later said she would not be performing in Russia for the foreseeable future as it was “not the right time.”

The news comes on the heels of Netrebko facing backlash in Russia after she called Russian journalists scumbags on her Instagram enraging Russian fans who believed that she was referring to them. The soprano immediately clarified her statements by releasing a video telling her fans, “How could you think and even admit the thought that I can call you names? Of course not. The swear word was not intended for subscribers, as you yourself understand, but for some members of the press who are very active, almost daily discuss my life with loud headlines, such as: found in the bushes, turned black, knelt down, some terrible things that are already I do not remember. They just got ridiculous.”

Additionally, the soprano is facing backlash in the United States after posting a picture of a production of “Aida” from the Arena di Verona in which Ambrogio Maestri and the soprano are using Blackface. The production which opened on June 18 with Liudmyla Monatsryka, also in Blackface, was openly criticized by Tamara Wilson in 2019. The soprano was set to make history by becoming the first singer to not use the makeup in the production. However, she was still forced to use lighter makeup which still darkened her skin for her second performance. She said, “I won the battle but not the war.” She then canceled the third performance of her three-run contract due to illness and vowed not to continue performing the role. The soprano has since deleted her Instagram. Netrebko sings two more performances of “Aida” with Monica Conesa, Maria Teresa Leva, and Latonia Moore also set to perform. Monastyrska is also set to perform the role two more times. OperaWire has reached out to the Arena di Verona for comment on why the practice is still being used.