Should the Met impose life ban on stage protestor?

Should the Met impose life ban on stage protestor?


norman lebrecht

January 30, 2015

There was widespread concern last year when Harvard banned one of its doctoral graduates for life after he mounted a stage where Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi were performing.

The protestor, Dr Roman Torgovitsky, is a biomedical scientist ad martial arts practitioner. He is also a voluble anti-Putin activist.

Last night, Dr Torgovitsky mounted the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, disturbing the artists as they took curtain calls. He was duly arrested. Should he now be banned from the Met?

Harvard was criticised for trampling on academic freedoms  by imposing a life ban. However, in another field, there is generaly no objection when a football supporter who misbehaves during a match is removed and banned. Those who disrupt musical events with extraneous political protest must expect similar treatment.

If the Met were to ban Dr Torgovitsky, he would have no cause for complaint.



  • Roy Lisker says:

    Harvard is absolutely wrong. It is not the first time that Harvard has been absolutely wrong

  • Greg Hlatky says:

    The Met is well within its rights to ban Torgovitsky. Whether the Fool Factory was right in excluding him not just from the concert venue but from campus entirely is another question.

    Ever notice that people who went to Harvard always let you know they went to Harvard?

    • John Borstlap says:

      I went to Harvard and tell everybody I meet, as everybody does who went to Harvard. What’s wrong with that? It’s the ony thing we have worth talking about. (I went to Harvard as a postman bringing a package; it’s still going to H.)

  • marguerite foxon says:

    Of course he should be. This has nothing to do with freedom to protest. It is completely unacceptable behaviour.

  • David Boxwell says:

    Nip this excuse for bad behavior in the bud. Otherwise, any yahoo with a cause or a grievance, however much we may agree with it, will disrupt performances the rest of us pay a lot of money to see.

    In other words: take it outside, buddy.

  • JKJohnson says:

    Ban. Wow, nothing like having an evening out marred. The audience didn’t pay to see this idiot inject himself onto the stage and disrupt the Met performers even if it was the end of the performance. It is their night and rightfully so. This brand of behavior is unacceptable.

  • John Kelly says:

    Premier League spectators get lifetime bans for a good deal less…

  • harold braun says:

    As expected from Milka,silliest question ever!Of course he should be banned!Nobody who doesn’t have to be on stage because of the performance is allowed to be there.I have been working for 30 years now in opera houses.Even as a longtime member of one opera I was never allowed to enter the stage during a performance I didn’t take part in,for security requirements, among many things. I don’t talk here about the silly pathetic show he put on,that should taken legal action upon. Just about the pure security requirements.

  • Milka says:

    He is protesting killings by murderous thugs who are supported by the likes of Netrebko -Gergiev, his type of protest was sorely needed in the past when Hitler began
    taking power . His is the conscience speaking
    to the Ukrainian people who are under siege,that there is a voice saying …no to murder .
    As usual this allows others to chirp from their comfortable surroundings that this
    is” unacceptable behavior “.
    When watching Beczala ,Netrebko and Gergiev take their well earned bows one
    might perhaps remember Malaysia Flight 17 and 283 dead innocent victims ,
    and then think on what is” unacceptable behavior” .Mr. Togovitsky speaks to
    the truth which is unacceptable to some .


    • harold braun says:

      Bull!!!Your view of the events in the Ukraine is very questionable, and I have a number of friends from there who paint a different picture!To compare Mr.Putin with Hitler borders,for me,as a Jew whose families flew or became victims of Hitler, on an insult. But that’s not the point here.The protester could have sung his aria outside the MET,but not on its stage .He violated the law,and now he has to face the consequences.Period.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        “A number of friends”? A “number” bigger than two? Last time they were two.

        “To compare Mr.Putin with Hitler borders,for me,as a Jew whose families flew or became victims of Hitler, on an insult.”

        You mean – someone who organizes terrorist attacks in his own country to increase his power, who persecutes gays and some, racially selected foreigners, who invades foreign territory under the pretext of “defending Russian minorities”, and who is now digging a “corridor” to this territory, should not be compared to Hitler? To do that, we should patiently wait for him to murder… how many? A million would agree with you?

        “There’s absolutely no proof for this theory.”

        Exactly professor Faurisson’s point on another matter.

        • Anon says:

          Oh dear, you have been drinking the brainwashing detergent in substantial amounts. Meanwhile in this world, foreign territories and economies are de facto annexed, even though not old style openly…, espionage and theft of industry secrets is done in never before seen gigantic dimensions, and many innocent people are killed. But its not Russia that’s doing that. I guess you need to control or subdue most of the media in order to do all this and still make the gullible idiots believe the others are the bad guys. I have big respect for this historic achievement of manipulating the minds of the masses, its been done very well I must admit. Very smart people at work, no doubt about it.

          • Gonout Backson says:

            Funny thing, not one single solid argument in your thing. Someone washed them away?

          • Anon says:

            If you never heard about factual matters like Snowden’s revelations about the NSA or about the Iraq war or about the unlawful drone killings or about Guantanamo and and and then it’s not my fault, keep drinking…

          • Gonout Backson says:

            The subject wasn’t Snowden or whatever. The subject was Ukraine and Putin. Your attempt at switching subjects proves that you’re very much upset by the facts in the matter at hand and therefore you go for the good old, Soviet “and you’re lynching Negroes” technique.

          • Anon says:

            Snowden’s revelations showed crimes against humanity and evil intent by the US administration against which Putin and Crimea seems a very small affair. That’s why it is relevant. Your hypocrisy stinks.

      • Marshall says:

        So your point is that Hitler was worse and he killed Jews, therefore an evil, admitedly not on the scale of Hitler or Stalin should be allowed to do what he wants without peaceful public outcry? Or we shouldn’t interfere with the internal affairs of another country? The problem with these artists is not that they are Russian, but they are public backers of Putin-don’t you get the difference?

  • Milka says:

    Unfortunately I have little credence in anything you write .
    Malaysia Flight 17– 283 murdered innocents ..keep that in mind.

    • harold braun says:

      There’s absolutely no proof for this theory.And even if,what’s that got to do with the performance at the MET?With the performers,not only Mr.Gergiev and Mrs.Netrebko,but also the MET Orchestra and Chorus?-Absolutely childish!!!

  • Bruys says:

    The heat in the replies makes one wonder if they are motivated more by views about the Ukraine than with the protester. Nobody likes to have a performance interrupted but, funny, it seems like not so very long ago there was a groundswell of support for freedom of speech, even if it offends others. The Met would be in its rights to exclude him, while the Ukraine is still a hot issue, though if I had been in the audience I wouldn’t have been worried. Whatever the views about the issue, his actions were not very disruptive. The clip indicates he received a few boos, but his presence was brief and the performers continued to receive their accolades.

  • MacroV says:

    I’m totally sympathetic to the protestor’s objective and am pretty contemptuous of the “Putin isn’t in Ukraine/Russia had nothing to with the Malaysian jet” characters defiling this blog. Which has nothing to do with what should be done with this fellow.

    That said, the man should be arrested and prosecuted for trespassing or whatever law he surely must have violated. And it would be perfectly fair for the MET to ban him. He can make his point on the street, launch a campaign on the internet, and he’ll at least have my moral support. But you don’t go up on the stage like that -major security risk; this time a guy protesting Putin, next time an al-Qaeda operative? Next thing you know the MET’s security people will put up a fence in front of the stage to prevent a recurrence.

    • harold braun says:

      Spot on comment,Macrov.

      • Gonout Backson says:

        Apparently you’ve missed the first phrase : “I’m totally sympathetic to the protestor’s objective and am pretty contemptuous of the “Putin isn’t in Ukraine/Russia had nothing to with the Malaysian jet” characters defiling this blog”.

  • Milka says:

    Macrov has presented us with a clever polemic on how to do the side step. His advice is to protest invasion ,killings and all the horrors of war but do it where it will least interfere with his serenity, he then will give moral support .. big deal ……..Protest in good taste and where
    it will have no meaning. Gergiev and Netrebko are public figures , stupidly they made
    show of their support of evil brutality that harkens back to the early Hitler days .Where else to meet the likes of Gergiev ,Netrebko and Beczala for that matter but on their home ground
    where the protest will carry a little weight and just might wake people up in taking a moral stance against those that support tyranny .Mr. Beczala might think on this while shaking his head, today the Ukraine , to-morrow ?? Gone are the days when so called artists can
    pretend to be above the fray .. Hitler took care of that……..

    The Met has every right to ban him …they are not involved with truths as much as they are involved with $$, undoubtedly a two bit judge will be found to put matters” right “….
    cowards are a dime a dozen .

    Prof Torgovitsky should be prepared for the worst -writing J’accuse , Zola had to flee the
    country …times haven’t change only the clothes .

  • harold braun says:

    @Maria Los,as much as you get from Ukrainian Nationalists……

  • bratschegirl says:

    Without addressing the content of the whole Ukraine/Russia mess, those who invoke the mantle of “civil disobedience” for their behavior should not only expect to be arrested and possibly jailed, they should welcome it. That’s how unjust laws are protested and ultimately changed, by showing the world that the consequence does not fit the “crime” an that the entity being protected by that law does not merit such protection. It doesn’t work quite as well when the action taken is this far removed from the actual thing under protest, however; the rule against rushing the Met stage from the audience isn’t what anyone thinks needs to change. But I guess doing that is easier and safer than planting oneself in front of a tank in Donetsk.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    If an educated, thinking man chooses to interrupt a curtain call at the Metropolitan Opera, isn’t it incumbent on the observer, in the first instance, to probe what acts of human abuse motivated his comparatively benign act of civil disobedience? Shouldn’t we seek to focus on planks, not splinters? Fighting tyrannical forces requires the ruffling of feathers, and surely the ruffling of feathers is a far lesser misdemeanor than the grievous crime of tyranny.

    And this, being the 23rd comment of this post alone, shows that Dr. Torgovitsky knew exactly how to ruffle feathers.

  • Ks. Christopher Robson says:

    Without wishing to offend anyone (everyone??), I have to just say that I can’t stop laughing at all these posts. Unbelievable!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Bergson says:

    Valery Gergiev openly supports war that have caused thousands of deaths, and people in America applaud him and condemn one man who protested against this insanity. Poor opera lovers were so much “disturbed” while cheering propagandist of a murderer and a tyrant.

    Shame on you, so-called “intellectuals”! You might know everything about Tchaikovsky’s operas but you got no heart.

    • Gonout Backson says:

      You’re unfair. They do have a heart. But it’s busy fighting Wagner, Furtwaengler, Schwarzkopf, and, generally, Hitler.

  • Dante says:

    Roman was right to protest against terrorism sponsors like GERGIEV and Netrebko. And the MET is totally wrong to accept such people to play on its stage and should be considered as accomplice of these people supporting terrorism.
    “The darkest places in hell will be reserved for people who maintains their neutrality in times of moral crisis”