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1 Mar, 2022 13:35

Russian opera stars Gergiev and Netrebko fired over Ukraine invasion

Artists have been removed from German arts organizations over Putin ties
Russian opera stars Gergiev and Netrebko fired over Ukraine invasion

Prominent Russian conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano legend Anna Netrebko were removed from their positions by German arts organizations on Tuesday in response to Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Gergiev, who had been serving as the chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic, was dismissed by the city’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, after he failed to meet a Monday deadline to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and the conflict.

The removal comes three years before his contract was set to expire and marks the latest setback for Gergiev, who has faced backlash over his silence on the war.

The Bavarian State Opera similarly announced that it was canceling bookings with Gergiev for similar reasons. This comes after the conductor was forced to resign his position as the honorary president of the Edinburgh International Festival effective immediately.

Gergiev’s management company had already announced that it was severing ties with the musical professional, having represented him since December 2020. In a statement, Marcus Felsner, who owned the management company, claimed the recent actions of the Russian regime made it “impossible” for them to “defend the interests of Maestro Gergiev.”

Alongside its dismissal of Gergiev, the Bavarian State Opera added that it was also canceling upcoming engagements with Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.

Netrebko has been previously linked to Putin and was, in the past, photographed holding a flag that has been used by separatist groups operating within the Ukrainian breakaway republics.

The cancellation of bookings with Netrebko comes despite her having issued a joint statement with her husband, Yusif Eyvazov, where she claimed to be “opposed to this war” and acknowledged the “pain and suffering” being experienced by Ukrainians.

However, within her statement, Netrebko criticized individuals for calling on artists to condemn the war, stating that “forcing artists, or any public figure to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right.”