BERLIN – Russian artists are being asked to speak out against Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine war or risk losing their jobs across Europe.
On Tuesday, Russian opera star Anna Netrebko canceled several performances, including a Wednesday night performance at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, speech it’s “not the right time to perform and make music.”
Although Netrebko on the weekend speak In a social media post that she “opposes this war”, she also expressed displeasure when artists are forced to “speak their political views in public and denounce their homeland.” their”. In the Facebook post, she did not mention Vladimir Putin’s name. Netrebko supported Putin’s election campaign in 2014 and celebrated his 50th birthday last fall with a concert in the Kremlin.
In Munich, the Bavarian State Opera removed Netrebko performances, quote “Lack of distance” with Putin.
Meanwhile, in a shift that reflects the changing position of Germans towards Moscow, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev lost his job at the Munich Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday after he failed to respond to letters from Thi Chief Dieter Reiter, who asked Gergiev to speak against Putin.
Gergiev, a friend of Putin’s in 2016 conduct a concert in Palmyra, Syria, after Russian forces helped retake the city from Islamic State, canceled fighting in Edinburgh, Paris and Milan since the war began because he refused to criticize the Kremlin .
Maximilian Maier, a radio and television presenter, said: “In the case of Gergiev, a famous Russian figure who also has a cultural-political function in Russia and in the West, yes. is to ask him for clear positioning. at the Bavarian classical music television station BR Klassik.
He added: “When a war like this is started by a tyrant who is very close to them, there will not be any more gray areas.
“At the same time, I would be careful not to give ultimatums rather than try to have a personal conversation, because art should serve as a bridge rather than a weapon,” Maier said. “And we will urgently need bridges in the future.”
Among the musicians Maier has interviewed in recent years is Latvian soprano Elīna Garanča, one of many artists from across the music scene – including Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and Green Day – who have canceled concerts. concert in Russia due to war. .
Garanča speak about her decision that she “cannot support those who support Putin and his regime even if they are stuck in being unable to make an open and honest statement.”
Harm back a era of cultural and political unity, a 2009 videos YouTube has about 14 million views showing Garanča and Netrebko in Prague together singing “Barcarolle” from “Les Contes d’Hoffmann” by Jacques Offenbach.
Fast-forward to 2022, and German Culture Minister Claudia Roth of the Greens appreciative Her friend, German-Russian pianist Igor Levit, is on Instagram not for his musical talent but for his clear stance on Putin and his war.
“It is still ambiguous when a man, especially a man leading your country, starts a war against another country and in doing so causes great suffering to your country and Your people are unacceptable,” stated Levit. “And never, never use music and being a musician as an excuse. Don’t insult art”.
That there can be no separation between art and politics is also the view of the Ukraine Digital Transformation Ministry, Tuesday. sent a letter for Apple Music and Spotify, asking them to show a message to listeners in Russia revealing Putin propaganda.
“While you are listening to this song, Ukrainian civilians are dying from Russian bombing! We ask the citizens of Russia to stop this war! To oppose that regime! The ministry wants the message to be read, and asks that artists who openly support the Kremlin should be completely banned from the forums, including Russian tenor Nikolai Baskov.
Baskov, who has 4.8 million followers on Instagram, last week acclamation Putin’s move aims to end “thirty years of unprovoked deception against Russia by the West,” he added, adding that “to claim that NATO is peaceful is a lie.”
Whether Baskov will be banned on Spotify and similar platforms remains to be seen. Neither Spotify nor Apple Music responded to requests for comment.
In Hamburg, Elbphilharmonie rescheduled Netrebko’s concert for September.
“At the request of the organizers of River Concerts in September, a serious statement about the conditions under which the concert will eventually take place is unlikely at this time due to the enormous momentum of the event. ,” said Elbphilharmonie spokesman Martin Andris. “The situation will certainly be re-evaluated by all concerned parties at the appropriate time.”
The silencing and canceling of artists for any reason remains a dilemma in Germany, where the sanctity of freedom of opinion sometimes conflicts with the rights of supporters of threatening forces. liberal values.
“In the current situation, we all have a responsibility to stand up for our liberal values,” said Anikó Merten, cultural spokesman for the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the German parliament. . “However, the decision on how to make it public will always be left to the individual.”
However, Merten expressed a feeling of distrust of those who stick with Putin even after he has started the war.
“In the case of Valery Gergiev, it is known that he had a friendly relationship with Vladimir Putin in the past,” she said. “Of course, his refusal to separate himself from that doesn’t put him in a bit of a good light.”
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