Diva Anna Netrebko sues Met over Russia-Ukraine war firing

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one among opera’s largest stars, sued the Metropolitan Opera and its basic supervisor Friday, alleging discrimination when the corporate dropped her after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The swimsuit, filed within the U.S. District Courtroom for the Southern District of New York, contains claims of nationwide origin discrimination, breach of contract and defamation. Netrebko is asking for not less than $360,000 in damages, citing misplaced efficiency and rehearsal charges.

The Met severed its relationship with Netrebko in March 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the earlier month. Met basic supervisor Peter Gelb mentioned on the time she “is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.” Netrebko had made a number of statements opposing the struggle and violence on the time of her ouster, however didn’t comply with Gelb’s request that she particularly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin, in keeping with her swimsuit.

“Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Met and Peter Gelb have used Anna Netrebko as a scapegoat in their campaign to distance themselves from Russia and to support Ukraine,” a press release from Netrebko’s administration despatched to The Washington Submit reads.

“Ms. Netrebko’s lawsuit has no merit,” the Met’s press workplace mentioned Friday in an unsigned assertion.

Julie Ulmet, Netrebko’s lawyer, mentioned the singer determined to file swimsuit after a labor arbitrator ordered the Met to pay her greater than $200,000 this 12 months for 13 performances by which she would have starred. The arbitrator left open “whether the Met’s termination of certain other contracts violated state law,” Ulmet mentioned.

The swimsuit cites agreements Netrebko and the Met had made for performances by means of the 2025-26 season, together with productions of “Tosca” and “Macbeth.” The Met advised Netrebko in 2022 it was canceling “all holds for future seasons” along with her 2023-24 contracts, per her lawsuit.

Earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine, Netrebko had been one of many Met’s marquee names. Starting together with her 2002 Met debut, she averaged ten exhibits a 12 months at firm, together with a number of starring roles, her lawsuit mentioned. It cited information protection calling her “the face of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.”

She had additionally been an outspoken supporter of Putin earlier than the invasion, calling him “a very attractive man” and endorsing him for the Russian presidency in 2012. She distanced herself from the Russian chief after the struggle started, saying “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.”

The choice to half methods with Netrebko wasn’t the Met’s solely transfer to help Ukraine. The corporate helped kind the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which excursions “to support Ukrainian artists.” The orchestra is helmed by Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, who can also be married to Gelb, in keeping with a New York Occasions profile of the music energy couple.

“Music can be a powerful weapon against oppression. This tour is meant to defend Ukrainian art and its brave artists as they fight for the freedom of their country,” Gelb mentioned in a joint assertion asserting the orchestra’s tour.

Regardless of her absence from the Met, Netrebko has discovered a house at different famed homes, together with the Vienna State Opera and Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Nonetheless, the swimsuit says the Met and Gelb “harmed Netrebko’s reputation with audiences and opera fans, including by encouraging protests of her performances.”

“Netrebko has suffered, and continues to suffer, severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including, but not limited to, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, and emotional pain and suffering,” her lawsuit states.

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