Friday, March 31, 2023
We have been posting occasionally on the interaction of the Russian war against Ukraine on the blog. The most recent such post is here. Today, care of Javier C. Hernández and The New York Times, we have a new installment.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko (pictured at right receiving the State Prize of the Russian Federation) was scheduled to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in Don Carlo this season and La Forza del Destino and Andrea Chénier next season but the Met cancelled those performances when Ms. Netrebko refused its demand that she denounce Vladimir Putin after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
An arbitrator awarded Ms. Netrebko $200,000 under a "play or pay" clause in her agreement with the Met, finding that her support for Putin did not rise to the level of moral turpitude nor was it actionable misconduct. However, the arbitrator did fine her $30,000 for "highly inappropriate" statements on social media. The Met has also terminated Ms. Netrebko's husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, who was slated to perform in Tosca. The Met says that they will compensate Eyvazov. Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska will sing the role of Tosca in four performances.
Admittedly, Netrebko is in a tough spot. Facing cancellations throughout the West (but she has performances scheduled in Vienna and Milan), she has attempted to distance herself from Putin saying that she met him only a few times, but the penalties she might face in Russia were she to denounce the invasion could be far more grave that losing a gig at the Met. As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, Putin recently signed into law a new provision in Russia's criminal code that provides for up to fifteen years in prison for "false news" relating to the Russian military. Helen Sullivan reports in The Guardian on Alexei Moskalyov, whom Russian authorities tracked down in Belarus after he attempted to escape form two years of house arrest, in part because of anti-war drawing by his 13-year-old daughter. She was removed from his care and placed in a state-run rehabilitation center.