anna netrebko faces backlash in russia after attempt to distance herself from putin

Anna Netrebko Faces Backlash in Russia After Attempt to Distance Herself From Putin

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

Ms. Netrebko issued a statement on Wednesday that appeared to be an attempt to revive her international career, which has crumbled recently because of her past support for Mr. Putin. In the statement, she condemned the war and said she was not allied with him.

In Russia, where Ms. Netrebko has a large fan base, her words were met with criticism. She was denounced on Friday as a traitor by Vyacheslav Volodin, a senior lawmaker who has been an outspoken critic of artists who oppose the war.

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

And the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater in Siberia canceled a coming appearance 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 a statement on its website. “Now is the time to make a choice.”

Ms. Netrebko could not immediately be reached for comment.

Since the war started, Ms. Netrebko has faced a wave of cancellations around the world because of her ties to Mr. Putin. Her performances at the Metropolitan Opera — where she had sung for 20 years and become its prima donna — have been canceled indefinitely. Other leading opera houses, including in Munich and in Zurich, have also scrapped coming engagements.

In her statement this week, Ms. Netrebko sought to distance herself from Mr. Putin, saying that they had met only a few times. “I am not a member of any political party nor am I allied with any leader of Russia,” she said, describing herself as a taxpayer in Austria, where she now resides.

While she condemned the war in Ukraine, she did not explicitly criticize Mr. Putin, and did not directly address her record of support for him.

It remains unclear whether she will succeed in reviving her career. The day she issued her statement, the Paris Opera announced that she would star in a production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” this fall. (Alexander Neef, that house’s director, said in a statement on Wednesday that the company was evaluating the situation.) The Met responded by saying it was not prepared to change its position; Peter Gelb, its general manager, said, “If Anna demonstrates that she has truly and completely disassociated herself from Putin over the long term, I would be willing to have a conversation.”

Ms. Netrebko once endorsed Mr. Putin’s re-election and has over the years offered support for his leadership. In 2014, she was photographed holding a flag used by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine. In her statement this week, she said, “I acknowledge and regret that past actions or statements of mine could have been misinterpreted.”

Now, she risks becoming persona non grata in her homeland and abroad.

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

Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.