Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko returns to the Parisian stage after the controversy over the war in Ukraine

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Russian-Austrian opera singer Anna Netrebko returned to the Philharmonie de Paris this week.

The soprano has repeatedly made headlines for her reluctance to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin.

His return to the Parisian stage comes after the concert was postponed three times due to COVID-19.

Withdrawal from the New York Met

The Russian soprano first came under fire when she pulled out of her performances at the New York Met Opera in March, for refusing to criticize Putin’s regime after its invasion of Ukraine began.

“Failing to abide by the Met’s terms to repudiate her official support for Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from her forthcoming concerts at the Met for Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ in April and May as well as for + Verdi’s Don Carlos+ in the next season”, the Met Opera said in a statement at the time.

Although Netrebko has never outwardly expressed her direct support for Putin, criticism was leveled against her for a 2015 trip to Donetsk, one of the key disputed areas between Ukraine and Russia in the run-up to the 2022 war.

Netrebko was photographed posing with the flag of the pro-Russian separatist rebels. She also courted controversy by presenting a check for one million rubles (about 15,000 euros) to pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Oleg Tsarev.

At the time, Netrebko responded by saying she was only interested in supporting arts and opera in Donetsk, which had lost funding from Ukraine. She also assured that she had “never received financial support from the Russian government” and had never allied herself with “any Russian leader”.

Opposition against the war

In March, the 50-year-old singer said she was “opposed to this senseless war of aggressionand called on Russia “to end this war now.”

“I am not a member of any political party and I am not allied with any leader of Russia,” Netrebko said in late March. “I acknowledge and regret that my past actions or statements may have been misinterpreted.”

Following this announcement, the Monte-Carlo Opera hired her to sing the title role in Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut” in April.

The Monte-Carlo Opera told Euronews at the time that the choice was “artistic”.

“Anna Netrebko made a statement two weeks ago regarding the war and her relationship with Putin. She took a clear stance against the war in Ukraine,” Opera Monte Carlo said.

“As a result, she was declared an ‘enemy of the fatherland’ by the Duma speaker and a theater in Novosibirsk canceled her appearance. Our choice is artistic.”

Today, Netrebko is back on another major European stage, the Philharmonie de Paris. But a recent interview has put her back in the spotlight.

Speaking to Le Monde, she repeated that she was “guilty of nothing” and that her only mistake was not “to have learned more about the situation in the Donbass”.

“I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin. I answered that I had a Russian passport, that he was still president and that I could not say these words publicly. So I refused”, she added.

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