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13 Apr, 2023 11:36

Ukrainian opera house fires ‘unpatriotic’ chief conductor

Vyacheslav Chernukho-Volich was sacked after posing with tenor Yusif Eyvazov, as Russian soprano who is Anna Netrebko’s husband

An opera house in Ukraine has fired its chief conductor for performing in a venue led by tenor Yusif Eyvazov, the husband of Russian opera diva Anna Netrebko, and posing with him in a photo. The Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre announced the decision to part ways with Vyacheslav Chernukho-Volich on Wednesday, saying his actions are unacceptable in light of the conflict with Russia.

The theater said in a statement that the conductor had not been authorized to perform in Baku, Azerbaijan this month. It also noted that Eyvazov was recently appointed as the director of the Baku opera.

The Odessa opera house argued that artists who represent Ukraine internationally must condemn “Russia’s barbaric actions against our state” and understand “the unacceptability of contacts with representatives of the ‘Russian world’ and those who support Russian aggressors.” 

“It is impossible for us to continue employment of those who … do not hold a clear civic and patriotic position,” the opera house added.


Chernukho-Volich said he has been collaborating with the Baku theater for more than ten years and was invited to conduct ‘La boheme’ long before Eyvazov’s appointment. Eyvazov was named director on April 7 and Chernukho-Volich’s performance took place the next day.

“I am not personally familiar with Mr. Eyvazov, I saw him when he went on stage,” the conductor said, as quoted by Opera Wire. “If we are talking about the wife of Yusif Eyvazov, in our country, the son is not responsible for the father and the husband for the wife.”

Chernukho-Volich said he has refused to work with Russian artists. “From the first day of the war, I remained in Ukraine and worked … for our victory,” he insisted.

Some Russian artists lost work in the West after Moscow launched its military operation in the neighboring state over a year ago. Netrebko condemned Russia’s actions early in the conflict. However, the Metropolitan Opera in New York said at the time that it was not enough for the singer to be reinstated.

Netrebko said that she was not involved in Russian politics and had no ties to the government.

In December, Ukrainian Culture Minister Aleksandr Tkachenko penned an op-ed in The Guardian calling for a boycott of Russian culture, including classical music composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky.

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the push to ‘cancel’ Russian culture last year as “simply nonsense,” adding that attempts to do so will ultimately fail.