Anna Netrebko, the superstar soprano whose international career was marred by previous support for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin following the invasion of Ukraine, has been invited to sing this month at the Opera di Monte-Carlo in Monaco.
Ms Netrebko was initially scheduled to sing the title role of Puccini’s “Turandot” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in late April, but the company, like many in the West, withdrew from her due to concerns that She had failed to keep enough distance from Mr. Putin after starting the war in Ukraine.
Instead, Ms Netrebco will now appear in Monaco, singing the title role in another Puccini opera, “Manon Lescot,” in four performances at the Opera di Monte-Carlo, the company announced on Thursday. They will be her first engagement since the invasion began in late February, but she has other appearances planned for later this spring.
“I am delighted to make an unexpected on-stage debut at the Monte Carlo Opera,” Ms Netrebko said in a statement. “It is being made even more special by performing with my husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, in the same Puccini masterpiece that marked our first encounter at the Rome Opera in 2014.”
Ms Netrebko has faced a wave of cancellations at major opera houses. She once supported the re-election of Mr. Putin and, in 2014, was photographed holding the flag used by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine.
After initially condemning the war but remaining silent on Mr Putin, Ms Netrebko saw her engagements in the West fading. So Ms Netrebko issued a new statement last month seeking to distance herself from Putin, saying she had only met him a few times and said she was “not affiliated with any of Russia’s leaders.” With a theater in Novosibirsk, Siberia, his words prompted a backlash in Russia, with an appearance being canceled and a senior parliamentarian condemning him as a traitor.
The Opéra de Monte-Carlo on Thursday defended its decision to hire Ms Netrebko, saying she has done enough to distance herself from the war.
“Anna Netrebko made a statement two weeks ago about the war and her relationship with Putin,” Opera House spokeswoman Cristian Ribeiro said in an email. “She has taken a clear position against the war in Ukraine. As a result, she was declared an ‘enemy of the homeland’ by the speaker of the Duma and a theater in Novosibirsk canceled her appearance.”
The Opéra de Monte-Carlo described its decision as artistic, noting that Ms. Netrebko is to replace Italian soprano Maria Agresta, who canceled due to illness.
In her statement, Ms Netrebko said, “I wish my friend and colleague Maria Agresta a full and speedy recovery.”
How the Ukraine War Is Affecting the Cultural World
Valentin Sylvestrov. Ukraine’s most famous living musician, Mr. Sylvestrov, made his way from his home in Kyiv to Berlin, where he is now taking refuge. In recent weeks, his comforting music has acquired new importance for listeners in his war-torn country.
“Our choice is an artistic one: we are very sorry that Maria Agresta has to be canceled for health reasons, but we are delighted that Anna Netrebko has accepted to sing these four performances of ‘Manon Lescott’,” said Ms Ribeiro said.
It is unclear whether Ms Netrebko will be able to revive her world-travelling career. Zurich and Munich’s Mets and major opera houses have refused to hire him, despite efforts to distance himself from Mr Putin.
Met general manager Peter Gelb said this month that he would be open to talks if Ms Netrebko showed she had “completely and completely distanced herself from Putin over the long term.”
However, Ms Netrebko has managed to maintain some engagements.
In May, she will perform vocals at the Philharmonie de Paris and the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. In July and August, she is set to appear in Italy at the Arena di Verona Opera Festival, where she will appear in Verdi’s “Aida” and Puccini’s “Turandot”.
According to recent reports from state-owned news outlets in Russia, she is also scheduled to attend the Mariinsky Theater’s annual White Nights Festival this summer.