Many have cut ties with close associates of Putin, in particular conductor Valery Gergiev, a longtime friend and prominent supporter of the Russian president. Gergiev, who runs the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, where he nurtured Netrebko’s career, has conducted politically charged concerts over the years, including one in a separatist region of Georgia and another in Palmyra, after having been taken over by Syrians. and Russian forces.
Other Western institutions, however, have been criticized for their excess after canceling performances by Russian artists who were not closely identified with politics, and even some who had spoken out against the invasion.
Today, many cultural organizations are faced with an uncomfortable question: what to do with Netrebko?
His ties to Putin aren’t as deep as Gergiev’s, but they are substantial, according to a New York Times review of Russian and English news reports and public documents.
Her name appeared on a list endorsing Putin’s election in 2012, and she has spoken enthusiastically about him over the years, describing him as “a very attractive manand praising his “strong masculine energy.” In 2017, as Putin’s re-election approached, she Told a Russian state news agency that it was “impossible to think of a better president for Russia”. She also occasionally supported his politics; she once circulated a statement from Putin on Instagram alongside flexed biceps emojis. In 2014, she donated to an opera house in Donetsk, a war-torn city in Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists, and was pictured holding a separatist flag.
Putin, in turn, showered Netrebko with praise and accolades over the years. She was invited to sing at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and other state holidays. Last September, on the occasion of his 50th birthday, he sent a telegram calling her the pride of Russia and describing her as an “open, charming and friendly person with an uplifting personality and a clear civic position”. During a concert celebrating his birthday at the Kremlin Palace, the president’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, read Putin’s message from the stage.
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