The Staatsoper Unter den Linden strongly condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which violates international law. This war is not just against one country, but the entire culture of peaceful coexistence worldwide. Since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022, Staatsoper Unter den Linden has taken a clear position and expressed full solidarity for Ukraine, including a Concert for Peace at Staatsoper Unter den Linden in support of humanitarian aid for Ukrainians March 6, 2022, through the German premiere of the documentary film »Oh, Sister!«, in the presence of the Ukrainian human rights activist Oleksandra Matwijtschuk and the Ukrainian ambassador, in December 2022, by making our solidarity visible with the colours of Ukraine and other signs.
The management of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden has dealt with the case Anna Netrebko in a very differentiated manner since the beginning of the war. At the beginning of March 2022, it was mutually agreed with Anna Netrebko that she would not participate in the new production of »Turandot« in June 2022, and all future engagements were also questioned and discussed. Without a clear statement of the artist, a further collaboration was and would be unsustainable for the Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
Just recently, Anna Netrebko again very clearly distanced herself from Vladimir Putin in a statement of claim published in the U.S. Court Register on August 31, 2023, and also contradicted false statements, e.g., claims that she supported Putin. The statement of claim is publicly available.
In the Austrian media, on the occasion of an upcoming performance of Anna Netrebko in Vienna, , this was discussed very extensively on 1st September 2023, including quoting directly from the statement of claim. Excerpts from the reports as well as the links can be found here:
Die Presse: »And she clearly distances herself from Vladimir Putin ... In the statement of claim, the dual Russian-Austrian citizen not only distances herself from the Russian president, she also describes Russia as an authoritarian state with clan liability. Netrebko was not in line with Putin, she did not support Putin, she was not supported by Putin, she was not closely associated with Putin, she was not an ally of Putin, and she was not a political and ideological supporter of Putin,« the Vienna-based singer refuted statements by Metropolitan Opera director Peter Gelb,...".
Before that, on March 30, 2022, Anna Netrebko publicly articulated her position very clearly, as far as she was able, and distanced herself from the leadership of Russia, which we hereby recall and quote:
»I expressly condemn the war on Ukraine and my thoughts are with the victims of this war and their families. My position is clear. I am not a member of any political party nor am I allied with any leader of Russia. I acknowledge and regret that past actions or statements of mine could have been misinterpreted. In fact, I have met President Putin only a handful of times in my entire life, most notably on the occasion of receiving awards in recognition of my art or at the Olympics opening ceremony. I have otherwise never received any financial support from the Russian Government, and live and am a tax resident in Austria. I love my homeland of Russia and only seek peace and unity through my art. After taking my announced break, I will resume performing in late May, initially in Europe.«
She also took a very comprehensive stand in an interview in ZEIT on June 1, 2022: https://www.zeit.de/2022/23/anna-netrebko-russland-oper-ukraine .
Since we greatly appreciate the artistic personality of Anna Netrebko, who is undoubtedly one of the greatest voices of our time, and we have a long-standing partnership with her, we announced that we would seek a conversation with her. This took place between the artistic director, the artist and her management and the artistic director was able to get a personal impression of the authenticity of her information.
We think it is important to proceed in a differentiated manner here and to distinguish between before and after the outbreak of the war. Since the outbreak of the war, Anna Netrebko has not accepted any engagements in Russia and her management has confirmed to us that there are still no plans for any appearances in Russia. She has taken a clear position and distanced herself both through her statement and through her actions since the outbreak of war. This should be taken into consideration.
In addition, Anna Netrebko knows our clearly pro-Ukrainian position as a stage. Under these circumstances, in our opinion, this artist should be given a chance and not withheld from the audience. As a house, full solidarity with Ukraine is extremely important to us on the one hand, and treating our artists responsibly on the other.
As an opera house, we strive with all our strength to enter into dialogue, to connect people in the experience of music, and not to incite them against each other. At this time, our solidarity and compassion go out unreservedly to all those affected by this catastrophe.
Management statement from Anna Netrebko:
»Anna Netrebko looks forward to returning to the Staatsoper Berlin in a revival of a production of Macbeth that she premiered in 2018. She is grateful for the open dialogue that Intendant Matthias Schulz has had with her since early last year. In March 2022, for the first time, Anna Netrebko described her arm’s-length contacts with the Russian government and confirmed that she had never campaigned for it. The evidence used against Anna Netrebko – the flag unexpectedly unfurled during an ad hoc photo op, the 50th birthday party at the State Kremlin Palace promoted by an outside producer, etc. – is circumstantial and yet often left unchallenged, while Anna Netrebko has gone on the record to explain these disparate incidents with verifiable proof. Since February 2022, Anna Netrebko’s statements, her two major press interviews, her actions and her management’s ongoing correction of disinformation in the media collectively represent a body of substantial evidence against the baseless allegations directed at her. They establish that Anna Netrebko does not have a relationship with the Russian government nor any connection with the tragic war in Ukraine. Certain people have made unsuccessful attempts to assign different roles to Anna Netrebko, but there is in fact only one that truly fits: that of a singer. Which is what she looks forward to doing for the audiences in Berlin next month.«