First sight of the Met’s Three Monkeys

First sight of the Met’s Three Monkeys


norman lebrecht

January 20, 2015

gergiev netrebko cartoon

We have been given first sight of the poster for the coming picket of the Met’s January 26 production of Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta.

met 3 monkeys

The organisers say:

NYC arts managements have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye as they continue to hire Russian artists who publicly parade their support for Putin’s wars, invasions, terrorism and his anti-gay policies. While the rest of the world condemns these despicable acts, Met Opera announced they “support” Anna Netrebko and are “proud” she sings at the Met. Ms. Netrebko had staged her so-called “donation” to the internationally wanted terrorist, Oleg Tsarov, via a mass media attempt to validate and endorse Putin’s invasions.
Another poster-child of the Met Opera, conductor Valery Gergiev was a signatory of the public letter of support for Putin’s military invasions in Ukraine. Mr. Gergiev continues to deny gays are persecuted in Russia, and he consistently defends Moscow’s bloody occupations of her peaceful  neighbors, Georgia and Ukraine. Met Opera GM Peter Gelb responded with silence as did BAM and Carnegie Hall, where Gergiev also performs this month. 
Why is this “speak no evil” policy of the Met, Carnegie Hall and BAM so objectionable?
Tens of thousands of human lives, wholesale destruction of cities and countrysides, hundreds of thousands of refugees – all sacrificed due to Russia’s needless colonial expansion. When we hire propaganda mouthpieces like Gergiev and Netrebko or buy tickets to hear these artists, we in effect support these terrorist activities.…New Yorkers are a civilized people. New Yorkers are not “proud” of Netrebko and Gergiev, nor do they “support” the killings of thousands of people. New Yorkers will not honor any performers who hide behind “tolerance” to propagate their own barbaric views.




  • GEll says:

    All that plus AN’s intonation is flat and VG is a sloppy conductor.

  • Christy says:

    Excellent explanation. The man to whom Netrebko handed money was one of those who initiated the war which has led to thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees in Europe. He is alleged to be a weapons smuggler to the region.

    This man – Tsarov – is under sanction by the US and EU. US companies and individuals are prohibited from working with him. But Netrebko handed him money, and the Met continues to work with Netrebko.

    This says too much to even contemplate about the Met and its management.

    • Howard Haimes says:

      Christy. You are consistently biased and rude. Shame on you. If you only knew music and were intelligent!

      • Christy says:

        Please explain where I was rude. I myself did not call anyone unintelligent, now, did I?

        Are you friends with Ms. Netrebko by any chance?

        • Christy says:

          Do you object to the facts I’ve calmly laid out?

          • Vlad says:

            I’m not familiar with Christie’s history but I do not find any bias in his statement. He was just relating factual accounts that can be easily verified.

  • Howard Haimes says:

    To put a post together like this is indeed very arrogant and certainly misguided. Norman who makes you the arbiter of judge of decency, good taste or musicianship. How can you be so callous and misguided? The blog is supposed to be informational and balanced, but I find your style and viewpoints, both objectionably rude, very biased and downright insulting.

    • Olaugh Turchev says:

      So sick to see this blog author spewing hatred and siding with Kiev’s Neo-Fascists…

      • Christy says:

        Why is Tsarov under sanction by the US and EU?

      • Christy says:

        Please provide a policy the government has taken that would be considered fascist. What policies of the government are you talking about?

      • Mark says:

        Right, comrade, “neo-fascists” … And your beloved oily KGB rat who frequently hosts at the Kremlin people like Prokhanov (editor of the repellant ultra-nationalistic and anti-Semitic rag “Zavtra”) and “Professor” Dugin aka “Putin’s brain” (the chief ideologue of Russian fascism, who venerates Waffen SS) is what, a democrat ?

  • Howard Haimes says:

    You seem to try attract like-minded people with rude behavior.

    • Roman says:

      Could you clarify what you find so rude?
      Maestro Gergiev supported annexation of Crimea and Putin’s war against Ukraine.
      Anna Netrebko directly financially sponsored Tsarev.
      Both Gergiev and Netrebko are personally responsible for thousands of ethnic Ukrainians and Russians that Mr. Putin’s war killed and injured.

      And by the way – this is coming from a Jew born and raised in Moscow, Russia.

      And the next time you decide to call Ukrainian government “Neo-Fascist” – you may want to do some research and visit Ukraine first before making bizarre statements borrowed from Russian State TV propaganda.

      • Liudmila joy- vasuta says:


      • Anon says:

        Roman, without US action, there would be no Russian Crimea and no Rebel war in Eastern Ukraine. At least half of the responsibility for this conflict lies in Washington, at least. Only the US has played their cards smarter, doing the dirty work in a more deceptive way. It’s not a black and white world, usually these things are a bit more complex than the good old movie for kids with the good and the bad guys.

        • Gonout Backson says:

          This is complete, utter nonsense and/or blatant lie, insulting the Ukrainian people. Repeating it once again won’t turn it into truth.

  • Vlad says:

    Neo-fascist is a term “invented” by Comrade Putin that has not bearing on the current Ukrainian leadership. If anyone is a Fascist it would be Putin himself.

  • Christy says:

    Nice Russians just out for a ride in Ukraine. Probably just looking to make friends with their tank and guns.

    This is the area the first video appears to be in – isn’t it nice what the war – partially initiated by Netrebko’s contact Tsarov – has done to Ukraine’s infrastructure?

    Is it a wonder Ukrainians are angry?

  • harold braun says:

    The standards of slipped disc are slipping,in a painful and embarassing way…

    • Roman Torgovitsky says:

      Howard – It is either that or your intellectual capacity to resist Russian government brainwashing is giving up on you.

  • Julia KB says:

    I wonder why all the commenters who agree with the protests stick to the facts and all the ones who don’t are using personal insults? Is it because only the protesters have the facts on their side and all the apologists have is Kremlin propaganda?
    Oh, and we haven’t even talked about the fact that Mariinskiy’s tour is sponsored by two sanctioned Russian banks. Isn’t that nice? And in such good taste.

  • Kostya says:

    Good. Concertgoers need to understand that when they pay for a Netrebko or Gergiev ticket (no matter how talented these musicians are), some of that money will be used for waging Russia’s war.

  • hypocritesgalore says:

    Incredibly old news. How many people are attending the Mariinsky residency at BAM? Nearly 20,000? Attending the ballet over two weeks. Thousands at Carnegie Hall next week. Thousands more at the Met. Hlw many protesters? If this were an election the Mariinsky and Gergiev would win in a landslide. Slippedisc can continue fanning the flames of the match but the reality is that the public listens to the music and watches the ballet. This is consistent with Simon Bolivar Orchestra which is propped up by a repressive regime and others who purport to know Middle East and interject themselves politically and only receive applause from the uninformed. Gergiev has done more for classical music in general than any living musician but you are too busy attacking him over politics you can barely begin to understand.

    The Gergiev critics are like the people who protest the Beverly Hills Hotel because it’s owned by the Sultan of Brunei while taking UAE money for Hollywood productions.

    The hypocrisy is deafening.

    • William says:

      Hypocritesgalore says it well. It is embarrassing to find this type low level
      political regurgitation of cold war tactics, merely because for economic and
      political reasons the US has created out of whole cloth a new ‘Russian Empire’
      enemy. I was shocked how few days it took for the propaganda here to tell
      ‘us’ in what new manner we were required to regard Russia. They used to be Evil (right winger Ronald Reagan’s choice of title). What is the word ‘we’ are supposed to vilify
      the Russians with now? Have any of you flag wavers heard mention of the
      American Empire – yea, that’s the group that’s busy killing people all over the
      Middle East – and places they are not telling about, yet. Do you same people keep tabs on the neo cons in the US State Department, media, and apparently, in the music art blog world as well.

      I really enjoy this blog, but with this tone being set here, people will sour.

    • Julia KB says:

      That must be why Gergiev made Telegraph’s list of five worst classical moments of 2014 twice (once with Matsuev in tow) and why he’s catching a wave a horrible reviews for his BAM performances. No, really, the man’s a genius.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Russians felt humiliated, after 70 years of communist dictatorship, collapse of the country, bankruptcy of society, loosing influence all around and credibility in the wider world, and arriving at the bottom of all this they want to restore something of national identity that is not tainted with communism. Western style democracy is just too difficult in such situation… so anything that, through Russian spectacles, could restore ‘Russianness’, is picked-up and classical music stars – who are cultural export articles – are cought in the turmoil to which they themselves contribute.

    It is now generally acknowledged that the thoughtless pushing of the EU in Ukraine has greatly contributed to its civil war. It was plain stupid…. EU bureacucrats did not have any psychology or historical awareness, let alone cultural awareness.

    • Julia KB says:

      It is generally acknowledged by whom? Kremlin and its apologists only. There is not so much a civil war in Ukraine as an invasion by the armed forces of the neighboring country. Or do you also think the “separatists” can buy Grads and tanks at a neighborhood Army Surplus? Why don’t you ask Russian mothers whose sons arrive back from Ukraine in refrigerator trucks what they think of that “civil war”.

      You, sir, might or might know something about music. But you appear to fail a simple test of humanness– that of affording people you are talking about the same right to self-determination you would presumably claim for yourself. Nobody needed to “push” EU in Ukraine. Majority of Ukrainians have eyes and ears, and having looked around the neighborhood, they wanted to cast their lot with the kinds of societies where corruption is actually frowned upon and prosecuted as opposed to made into a way of life, with societies where governments can be changed through elections as opposed to having Putin for life.

      If you want to move to Russia and subject yourself to that way of life, go for it. But even if you make that choice for yourself, you have no right to call for an entire nation to be assigned that fate just because a tiny dictator wants it to be so and is throwing a fit about it.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      With all due respect, dear John, and, believe me, a lot of respect it is: you’re wrong.

      If Russians felt “humiliated”, they owe it to themselves. The murderous “communist dictatorship” hasn’t been imposed on them by a foreign power – they were the foreign power imposing it on others. It collapsed, liberating half of Europe, setting millions free.

      They had their chance to built a strong, free and prosperous country, with an amount of money their liberated colonies and protectorates could only dream of, or borrow. They flunked it. Wasted another 25 years, and probably more.

      Western style democracy is “too difficult”? Without even trying? I won’t play the violin till I learn it? Germans had been much more humiliated in 1945, and they played it very well from the scratch (I mean : those who weren’t occupied by the Russians).

      The phrase about the “thoughtless pushing” is – should I say : humiliating for the Ukrainian people. No one decided for them, and most certainly not the UE, more terrified by what was happening than happy about it.

      And there is no “civil war”…

  • David Nice says:

    Can you just fill us in on the details of Netrebko’s donation, please, Norman? When did she do this and how? It doesn’t sound good, but I don’t have all the facts there, least of all about Tsarov. About Gergiev and his unapologetic stance I think we know all we need to know.

    I also wish everyone would note that NL is quoting the words of the campaign; they are not his.

  • Milka says:

    While the poster of the three monkeys is interesting , one entertains the thought that to be correct two more monkeys should be added . Trelinski and Beczala are after all important to the success of the evening . Both seem not to mind working with two seemingly abhorrent Russian creatures .One thinks on Mr. Beczala , indignant at his La Scala booing event and
    vowing never to sing there again , seemingly has no problem associating with the likes
    of Netrebko and Gergiev,… suppose being booed at is worse than associating with Russian folk who support invasions that kill and destroy . One might think that being Poles they would know what mother Russia is about…..what people will do to climb that ladder of success.

    • Yige Li says:

      “One might think that being Poles they would know what mother Russia is about -”

      Well said. And I suppose, as colleagues working with Gergiev and Netrebko closely, Trelinski and Beczala would know what kind of people they are, better than you who just consider them (all the four people) as labels.

    • Anon says:

      “One might think that being Poles they would know what mother Russia is about”

      It doesn’t look good for mankind, it revisionist and chauvinist ideas like this are propagated ad nausea which have no relevance to current reality. What does psychology call the disorder, where people can not perceive reality, due to perceptional biases from very old traumas?

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Yarosh and Parubiy will be proud of you!

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Dmytro Yarosh : 0,7% in the presidential elections, his Right Sector – 1.8% in the Parliamentary elections (one MP : himself).

      • Olaugh Turchev says:

        And yet so many Svoboda in Kiev’s government… why?

        • Gonout Backson says:

          Good, old technique Mr Turchev. We’ve been talking Right Sector. Now, suddenly, it’s Svoboda. OK.

          Presidential elections 2014 (Oleh Tyahnybok) : 1,16%
          Parliamentary elections 2014 : 4,7%, six MPs.

          There is not one minister from Svoboda in the second Yatsenyuk government. But since you seem to have sources we don’t, you will certainly tell us more about these “so many”, with names and political history, I presume.

  • hypocritesgalore says:

    How about we have everyone on stage and in the pit tell us their political affiliations before rehearsal begin for an opera? How about everyone in the audience tell the artists on stage and in the pit their political affiliations? How about people be required to tell you what they think before you buy a ticket?

    When you agree with an artist you’ll go hear them. When you disagree you won’t. Ultimately, these are two sides of the same coin. When you agree with a Hollywood actor’s political opinion you’re proud to be in the seat watching them. When you don’t then you become nauseous.

    Does anyone remember that Wagner wore gloves when conducting the music of certain composers? Norma knows this and has written about it many times. The same people who blast Gergiev, Netrebko and others sit in their homes listening to Furtwangler conducting in Nazi Germany while millions perished in concentration camps. However, you sit and listen and forget. Why? Because it happened seventy years ago.

    In a hundred years people will be listening to Gergiev and Netrebko recordings and this will all be a footnote in history, if that. However, let the hypocrites stand up and admit it. The only reason why they react this way is because of jealousy. It’s an innate human quality and one that can be found in abundance here.

    • Milka says:

      Hypocritesgalore seems a self description and the comments as the comments by olaugh are par for the course .
      attempting to draw some ludicrous connection between to-day and Nazi Germany is pretty
      lame unless it is to compare the present day invasion of the Ukraine by Russia .That
      Gergiev and our matryoshka Netrebko will be remembered at all is laughable never mind the 100 years . The problem is while publicly sucking up to the current thugs running Russia
      it also gives public approval to the invasion and killings in the Ukraine . Netrebko must feel herself the Marianne of Russia with the flag and all …if we only had a modern day Delacroix…. ,when a truth is denied all critical observations of the denial are viewed as jealousy a trait of the limited mind .

    • Julia KB says:

      Please speak for yourself. I most certainly do not sit at home listening to Furtwangler conducting in Nazi Germany and I can assure you that nobody else who participates in these protests does either. Neither do we forget how long it took von Karajan to play in the US after WWII or that he was met with protests when he did. And if we line up the things Gergiev did to promote war and aggression against von Karajan’s, it is unclear to me who would be in the lead. And since Gergiev doesn’t seem to be done, I’m betting when all is said and done, Gergiev will win that particular musical competition hands down.

      More importantly, please stop with the false equivalencies. Nobody cornered poor Gergiev and held him captive until he admitted his private thoughts on Russia’s policies. Nobody forced Netrebko to appear at a press conference with a wanted and sanctioned separatist leader, hand him a million rubles and take pictures with the fake flag of that fake entity. They support Putin vocally and publicly because those are their views or because that’s what is advantageous to do in Russia these days– I couldn’t care less. But they use their artistic reputations to push those policies, to legitimize war, aggression and bloodshed for Russian citizens. They earn those reputations here, where they try to not talk about their aggression that they support and enable, where they pretend to be “just artists”. That is a shameful two-faced dance, and it should not be allowed in the free world. Artists who keep their political views private are artists first. Artists who use their standing to promote war and aggression are warmongers first. Pretty simple.

      One last thing. As often happens in these situations, your arguments say more about you and how you pacify your conscience than they do about the protesters. I hope you find the courage to face the facts. They are uncomfortable, but they will set you free. This is why at yesterday’s picket at BAM, the protesters were laughing, singing and having a great time, and it was the Putin supporters who were losing their minds yelling “Crimea is ours!” That is the level of Gergiev’s audience. Are you sure you want to be one of them?

    • Gonout Backson says:

      Please, give us the text and the date of a letter, enthusiastically supporting Hitler’s crimes and signed by Wilhelm Furtwaengler.

  • Liudmila joy- vasuta says:

    Thank you you for publishing this caricature and spreading the truth about maestro Georguev and diva Netrebko ! It’s obvious that money talk! Georguev would never make an international career if he wasn’t a close friend of Mr Putin ! Real musicians would never support any kind of aggression against a ‘”brother ” country UKRAINE . Regarding Netrenko its obvious that beautiful voice does not guarantee intelligence !
    She ruined her reputation in Europe forever by wearing a teeshirt with words: TO BERLIN ! Meaning ….. Russians are ready move further ?!!!! Threatening the world ?!!!

  • Julia KB says:

    Here’s what she said (but note the picture):

    And here’s what actually happened, including the follow up press-conference by Tsarev et al in Moscow:

    And if you want the youtube film of the completely unscathed Donbas Opera, just say the word.

  • Julia KB says:

    Please clarify what you consider to be a grudge and what pieces of music Gergiev or Netrebko have written. Thank you.

  • William says:

    The right wing imperialist spew here gets sillier and in the gutter as it goes along. There are numerous Americans sought internationally on war crimes charges, people who often sit next to others in their little right wing conclaves of concert goers, friends of some of these posting here perhaps. As Martin Luther King pointed those many years back, the US perpetrates carnage, violence, destruction all over the world. The military adventures in the Middle East will be coming home to roost for years on end, as Malcolm X pointed out. I have one question, why is the US grabbing up foot holds in the Ukraine? US agents don’t even speak any of the languages. What right and connection does the US have there? This blog is begining to read like Breitbart.

  • Milka says:

    One can only assume that in climbing the ladder of success and fame both Beczala
    and Trelinski conveniently suspend any moral integrity in sharing the stage with
    Netrebko our matryoshka Marianne of mother Russia . Of course Beczala and
    Trelinski know what Netrebko and Gergiev are about which makes it all more