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The Metropolitan Opera says it won’t work with pro-Putin artists

<i>Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>The Metropolitan Opera in New York won't work with artists who support Russian President Vladimir Putin
AFP via Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
The Metropolitan Opera in New York won't work with artists who support Russian President Vladimir Putin

Scottie Andrew, CNN

New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced it will not work with Russian artists and organizations who support President Vladimir Putin until the country’s invasion of Ukraine ceases.

Peter Gelb, general manager of the Met, said that the opera house, which hosts scores of international artists each season, can “help ring the alarm and contribute to the fight against oppression.”

“While we believe strongly in the warm friendship and cultural exchange that has long existed between the artists and artistic institutions of Russia and the United States, we can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him — not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made,” Gelb said in a video message shared to Facebook on Sunday.

Gelb told the New York Times that the Met’s relationship with Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, with which the opera company planned to present a production of “Lohengrin” next month, would likely end for now. The Bolshoi has long been connected to and controlled by the Russian government, according to Simon Morrison, a Princeton University professor of music who wrote a book on the theater’s history.

“It’s terrible that artistic relationships, at least temporarily, are the collateral damage of these actions by Putin,” Gelb told the Times.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has violently upended major cities in the Eastern European country, resulting in at least 102 civilians dead and 304 injured, though the true figure is likely much higher, a UN official said Monday. More than 500,000 refugees have fled Ukraine so far.

The change may also impact stars like Anna Netrebko, who’s set to play the title role in “Turandot” later this spring. In 2014, she donated to the Donetsk Opera Theatre, which operates in Donetsk, a separatist state located in Ukraine and backed by Russia. Putin also awarded her the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2005.

Netrebko, in an Instagram post, said that while she is “opposed to this war,” she is “not a political person” and that “forcing artists” to share their opinions on political issues is “not right.”

Carnegie Hall, also in Manhattan, announced last week that it had canceled performances by Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, whose friendship with Putin spans decades, NPR reported in 2014. Gergiev has also supported Putin’s policies that restrict the rights of LGBTQ citizens, which led to protests against the conductor at artistic venues in previous years.

Update: Since the time of publication, the Met announced that Netrebko will not return for this season or the following. She has also pulled out of all of her scheduled performances, according to a statement from the Zurich Opera House, where she was scheduled to perform this month.

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