Valery Gergiev Under Fire at the Teatro alla Scala

By Francisco Salazar

Conductor Valery Gergiev is under fire for his storied support of Putin.

Following the Russian leader’s decision to attack and invade Ukraine, many are calling on Gergiev to condemn the leader.

In Milan, where the Russian conductor is currently leading “The Queen of Spades,” the Mayor of Milan Beppe Sala ordered the company’s superintendent Dominique Meyer to fire the Russian conductor unless he comes out promptly with a statement condemning the invasion of Ukraine.

Sala said, “With the superintendent of the theater Dominique Meyer we are asking him to take a precise position against this invasion. If he does not do it we will be forced to end the collaboration.”

According to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra, the theater’s management and the mayor have agreed on a formal letter sent to Gergiev, telling him to write “a declaration in favor of peaceful conflict resolution.”

Gergiev was booed during the opening performance of “The Queen of Spades” on Feb. 23.

Meanwhile, in New York, Gergiev is set to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic in performances on Feb. 25, 26, and 27, 2022 at Carnegie Hall, and activists who support Ukraine are protesting the three-concert series.

The Vienna Philharmonic has issued a statement noting, “The Vienna Philharmonic has had an artistic partnership with Maestro Gergiev for decades. That is absolutely in the foreground. Culture must not become the plaything of political disputes. Therefore we will not comment on political issues related to our conductors or soloists. For us, music always has something that connects us and not separates us. ‘We condemn any kind of violence and war.”

OperaWire has reached out to Carnegie Hall for comment regarding the concerts.

Gergiev voiced his support for Putin most prominently in 2014, where he favored the Russian president’s actions in Donetsk. He subsequently received the Stalin-era Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation prize. He also appeared in a Putin election campaign video.