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Anna Netrebko faces backlash in Russia after trying to distance herself from Putin

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one of opera’s biggest stars, faced backlash in her home country on Friday after trying to distance herself from President Vladimir V Putin during his invasion of Ukraine.

Ms Netrebko issued a statement on Wednesday in what appeared to be an attempt to revive her international career, which recently collapsed over her past support for Mr Putin. In the statement, she condemned the war and said she was not allied with it.

In Russia, where Ms Netrebko has a large following, her words drew criticism. She was denounced as a traitor on Friday by Vyacheslav Volodin, a top lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of anti-war artists.

“You can’t call it anything other than treason,” Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel. “There is a voice, but no conscience. The thirst for enrichment and fame outweighed the love of the fatherland.”

And the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater in Siberia canceled an upcoming performance by Ms Netrebko, saying she seemed more interested in her global career than the “fate of the motherland”.

“Today is not the time to sacrifice principles for more comfortable living conditions,” the House said in one statement on his website. “Now is the time to make a choice.”

Ms. Netrebko was not immediately available for comment.

Since the war began, Ms Netrebko has faced a wave of rejections around the world due to her ties to Mr Putin. Her performances at the Metropolitan Opera – where she had sung for 20 years and become its prima donna – were canceled indefinitely. Other leading opera houses, including Munich and Zurich, have canceled upcoming engagements.

In her statement this week, Ms Netrebko tried to distance herself from Mr Putin, saying they had only met a few times. “I’m not a member of any political party or affiliated with any Russian leader,” she said, describing herself as a taxpayer in Austria, where she now lives.

While condemning the war in Ukraine, she did not explicitly criticize Mr Putin or address her support for him directly.

Whether she will succeed in reviving her career is still unclear. On the day it made its statement, the Paris Opera announced it would be starring in a production of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino this fall. (Alexander Neef, the director of that House, said in a statement Wednesday that the company was assessing the situation.) The Met responded by saying it was not prepared to change its position; Peter Gelb, general manager, said: “If Anna shows that she really and completely distances herself from Putin in the long term, I would be open to a conversation.”

Ms Netrebko has once advocated for Mr Putin’s re-election and has offered support for his leadership over the years. In 2014 she was photographed with a flag used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. In her statement this week, she said: “I acknowledge and regret that any previous actions or statements made by me could be misconstrued.”

Now she risks becoming persona non grata at home and abroad.

“She’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t,” said Simon Morrison, a music professor at Princeton University who studies Russia. “She’s canceled for years of pro-Putinism, then criticizes the war to save her international career, then is lashed out at home for caring more about her performances than ‘the fate of Russia.'”

Ivan Nechepurenko contributed to the coverage.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/01/arts/music/anna-netrebko-putin-ukraine-backlash.html Anna Netrebko faces backlash in Russia after trying to distance herself from Putin

Isaiah Colbert

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