What happened on Day 5 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine?
Valery Gergiev, the star Russian maestro and prominent supporter of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, was dismissed from his position as conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra on Tuesday after he refused to speak out against the invasion of the Ukraine by Mr. Putin.
And Anna Netrebko, the Russian diva who is one of opera’s biggest international stars and also has links to Mr Putin, has seen her upcoming engagements with the Bavarian State Opera canceledand the Zurich Opera announced that she had withdrawn from her upcoming performances there.
Mr Gergiev’s abrupt dismissal, three years before his contract expires, was the biggest setback for the conductor, who has been the target of widespread anger and condemnation in recent days for his long history of supporting Mr Putin, whom he has known for three decades.
Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, said Mr Gergiev, who had served as conductor there since 2015, had not responded to a request from Mr Reiter on Friday asking him to condemn the “war of brutal war” by Mr. Putin. assault” by Monday or be fired.
“I would have expected him to reconsider and revise his very positive assessment of the Russian leader,” Reiter said in a statement. “He did not do it.”
Mr Gergiev was also dismissed on Tuesday from his position as honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Orchestra officials, who had also recently asked Mr. Gergiev to denounce Mr. Putin, said in a statement that they had spoken with Mr. Gergiev but had been unable to resolve an “unbridgeable” divide. “. The orchestra said it was scrapping its “Gergiev Festival”.
Mr. Gergiev did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Ms Netrebko has also been criticized for her ties to Mr Putin, who has presented her with awards and praised her artistry. Ms Netrebko has endorsed his re-election bid and at times appeared to support his policies, including in 2014 when she was photographed holding a flag used by some Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine.
While she had in recent days sought to distance herself from the invasion, issuing a statement over the weekend saying she opposed the war, she remained silent on Mr Putin.
Zurich Opera Director Andreas Homoki called Ms Netrebko’s statement condemning the war a “positive development” and said the company “did not consider it appropriate to judge the decisions and actions of citizens of regimes repressive from the perspective of those living in a Western European democracy.
But Mr Homoki went on to note that the opera’s “decisive condemnation” of Mr Putin and his actions was “not consistent with Anna Netrebko’s public position”.
He said Ms Netrebko had decided not to sing in upcoming performances and relayed a statement from her which read: “Now is not the time for me to make music and perform. So I decided to take a step back from performance for now. This is an extremely difficult decision for me, but I know my audience will understand and respect this decision.
After the cancellations were announced on Tuesday, Ms Netrebko posted a photo on Instagram of herself with Mr Gergiev smiling after a concert. Then, in a separate post, she wrote: “As I said, I am opposed to this senseless war of aggression and I call on Russia to end this war now, to save us all. We need peace now. Both posts were later deleted.
The Metropolitan Opera has made no announcement regarding Ms. Netrebko’s planned appearances this spring, but Peter Gelb, its general manager, said in an interview on Tuesday that “The Met maintains its position that artists who support Putin will not be allowed to perform at the Met.
Asked about Ms Netrebko’s statement opposing the war, Mr Gelb said: “In the case of someone who is so closely associated with Putin, denouncing the war is not enough.
Before the Met performed Verdi’s “Don Carlos” on Monday night, the company performed the Ukrainian national anthem.
The rapid events showed how quickly arts organizations around the world have severed ties with some of Russia’s most prominent cultural ambassadors since Mr Putin’s invasion began on Thursday.
Mr Gergiev had lost a number of engagements in the days that followed, but the loss of his leading position at the head of a major European orchestra suggested far more serious ramifications for his international career.
It’s a stunning turnaround for Mr Gergiev, whose busy schedule and regular engagements with many of the world’s leading concert halls and opera houses have led the Bachtrack website, which collects music performance statistics classical, to proclaim him the busiest conductor in the world in the last several seasons.
Mr Gergiev supported Mr Putin’s re-election and performed at concerts in Russia and abroad to promote his policies. The two have known each other since the early 1990s, when Mr. Putin was a civil servant in St. Petersburg and Mr. Gergiev began his tenure as head of the Mariinsky, then called the Kirov.
Mr. Putin played a significant role in Mr. Gergiev’s success, funding the Mariinsky Theater, where Mr. Gergiev serves as general and artistic director.
Mr Gergiev’s international commitments began to dry up last week when Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra pulled him from a series of performances. On Sunday, Mr Gergiev’s manager announced he was ending his relationship with his client.
Director Marcus Felsner said in a statement that it had become impossible to defend Mr Gergiev, whom he described as “one of the greatest conductors of all time, a beloved visionary artist and admired by many of us, who will not, or cannot, publicly end their longstanding support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes.
On Monday, the fallout continued, with the Verbier Festival in Switzerland saying it had requested and accepted the resignation of Mr Gergiev as musical director of the festival orchestra. (The festival also said it would ban other artists who had shown support for Mr. Putin’s actions and would return individual donations under sanctions from Western governments.)
The Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland, where Mr Gergiev served as honorary president, also said on Monday he had resigned from his post after being asked to do so. The Philharmonie de Paris, a performing arts complex in France, announced that it was canceling two concerts in April with Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. And the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland announced that it was canceling two performances in August with Mr. Gergiev and the Mariinsky.
“Given Russia’s acts of war in violation of international law, we send a clear signal of solidarity to the Ukrainian people,” Michael Haefliger, the festival’s executive and artistic director, said in a statement.
Shortly after the mayor of Munich announced his decision on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, Germany – another major concert hall – said it had also canceled future engagements. by M. Gergiev. Several other institutions are considering similar moves, including the Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
Alex Marshall contributed reporting.
March 1, 2022
An earlier version of an image caption with this article misspelled the surname of a Russian opera star. She is Anna Netrebko, not Nerebko.