Teodor Currentzis attacks Russia over Serebrennikov arrest

Teodor Currentzis attacks Russia over Serebrennikov arrest


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2017

The Russian-based Greek conductor has issued a strong statement attacking the Russian justice system for its arrest of the opera director Kirill Serebrennikov. Here is his statement in Russian and English:


Любое государство должно стремиться к созданию такой системы управления, где люди доверяют правоохранительным органам, доверяют суду. Но ситуация, свидетелями которой мы стали, создает ровно противоположный эффект.

Что мы видим сейчас? Известные господа открыто присваивают огромные средства и остаются на свободе, более того, пользуются привилегиями и продолжают руководить государственными театрами. А люди, которые занимаются настоящим делом, создают нечто действительно новое в современном искусстве, что получает признание во всем мире, оказываются за решеткой.

Более того, интеллигентного человека, не оказывающего сопротивления, хватают и уводят в тюрьму люди в масках, как преступника. Такое грубое обращение и предвзятое отношение к художнику недопустимо. Это дискредитирует саму систему правосудия в нашей стране. Если так будет продолжаться, режиссеры будут бояться делать свою работу, которая требует свободы высказывания и поиска нового языка. А если государственная система лишится доверия, мы пропали.

Мы солидарны с Кириллом Серебренниковым и поддерживаем его. Под арестом сейчас находится не только крупный российский режиссер, на скамье подсудимых – современное российское искусство.

Теодор Курентзис


Every state should aim at creating a system where people trust law enforcement agencies, trust the courts. We are now witnessing the opposite situation. What do we see? Well-known men openly defraud huge sums of money and remain free. Moreover, they are still in charge of state theatres, and enjoy great privileges. At the same time, people who are doing real work, people who create something new in modern art that is recognised all over the world, these people end up in prison.

There is more to it: an intelligent man who does not resist arrest is slammed down by masked men as if he is a criminal. Such harsh and prejudicial treatment of an artist is unacceptable. It diminishes the system of justice in our country. If it continues, directors will be afraid of doing a job which includes freedom of speech and search for a new language. And if there is no trust in the government system, what is left?

We are at one with Kirill Serebrennikov and support him through this. This is not just a famous Russian director who has been imprisoned. The future of Russian contemporary art is at stake.

Teodor Currentzis

Photo by Nina Vorobyeva


  • Thomas Silverbörg says:

    Something is rotten in Denmark.

  • Steve P says:

    I really enjoyed Currentzis’ Mozart Da Ponte cycle – everyone seemed to be digging in for making great music. Glad an artist of his stature is willing to speak up for his fellow artists.

  • Olassus says:

    Well, he is ready to leave Russia.

    With his new big job in Stuttgart and the screaming crowds for La clemenza di Tito at the Salzburg Festival — a hotter ticket even than Muti and Netrebko’s Aida and all the focus of the cheers on HIM, Currentzis, and not the singers — he is done with Russia and Perm. Ready to move on. Free to criticize, after years of taking the money and not criticizing.

    • Emil says:

      Will anyone ever give him the same working conditions he has in Perm, though?

    • Nik says:

      It was quite rightly a hotter ticket than Aida. The Aida overall was a mediocre affair that most opera houses could have produced. I wouldn’t have travelled to see it. Tito, Lady Macbeth and Lear were all truly extraordinary performances that justify Salzburg’s reputation for making special things happen.
      “and all the focus of the cheers on HIM” – I’m not sure where you got this from. There were only collective bows after Tito. Nothing wrong with that; I thought it was nice.

      • Olassus says:

        The Aida was sensational. Sorry you missed it.

        • John de Jong says:

          No, The Aida staging was the most boring I ever saw. Salzburg unworthy. They had better made a concertant version, although Muti’s conducting was also too cold. Singing was great.

  • Russian Opera buff says:

    Teodor Currentzis, a much overhyped and overblown personality who has nothing new or original to say.
    Such people have their snouts in the trough a long time.

    The “reputation” was built on the back of lots of dirty money in Russia already circulating behind the scenes, while really good people are left out in the cold.

    It’s no suprise he says nothing for years, the same guys are capable of presenting entertainment for more hype.(eg. The pointless very tasteless Mike Hunt), Perm 36 Fidelio where people were murdered for decades.

    Currentzis and his ilk even pays singers or recording engineers from abroad, while usually the home grown ones are better, borrows local equipment for nothing, or pays next to nothing for local Russian artists.

    Compare with Abbado, Furtwangler, Reiner or Toscanini or of course the wonderful home grown Mravinsky, and you can see how pathetic these PR fuelled modern pseudo musicians are.

    If you have ever seen “conduct”, you would recognise the same Ilya Musin school of meaningless gestures , arm waving and an inability to rehearse properly.

    This is a la “palsy shaking Gergiev”, a “musician” who has nothing to say, apart from when it suits him to congratulate Putin for yet another war mongering “make Russia great” propaganda blast.

    Take the money and run Currentzis, your orchestra has already had to take a pay cut now, and you will certainly be next!

    • Michael Hunt says:

      You seem to be very upset and your assertions are a little chaotic. As for myself, I take full responsibility for the production of Fidelio at Perm 36. I do not offer a judgement or critique of this work but would merely direct you to consider the reaction of the administration of the museum who were my partners in making this work. The reaction of the audience was also remarkably positive. These people have a right to their opinions which are formed by a deep connection withe the place, as do you. However, maybe you do not consider them able to judge as they are not “opera buffs”! Did you see the production or are you one of a growing number of people who are happy to cast opinions from their armchair instead of participating in the artistic activity. I do not like everything that I see but I defend the right of the artist to his work. To dismiss people’s work as “tasteless” serves only to magnify the importance of your own opinions.

      • Russian Opera buff says:

        Indeed it’s good you take responsibilty for such lamentable failures as to scramble the elite of the region into a dreadful piece of crap you appear to be so proud of.

        The tasteless bit, is to have yet another (your) snout in the trough jetting in from the comfort of the western European luxury pad without the slightest idea of the history of the Perm region.
        Had you bothered to read a little more, you would know there were more than 400 gulag in the region, contributing to the miserable demise of 1000s of hapless individuals thrown into there to die.

        I can’t ever having read the slightest bit of input on your behalf before or after commenting on this, but now of course you are happy from some the security of other place to start joining the band wagon aren’t you?
        Do you have any moral values, or are they so bankrupt you can’t see them behind the immense size of your own overblown ego?

        • Michael Hunt says:

          It may have been a mistake to enter a dialogue with someone who expresses only anger and bitterness. Particularly in this case as you clearly are not well informed. I suspect also that you have never seen the production that you condemn so rudely. Is it really necessary to use such bad language in this public forum? For your information, I have given many public talks on the history of the gulag in relation to this project – also a number of radio and television interviews – the most recent being at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk. My work on this project came from a deep and detailed personal response to the history of repression in the Soviet regime. I originally proposed this project for a Permian director and was subsequently persuaded to undertake it myself only after agreeing to accept a fee no higher than would have been paid to a Russian director. Whilst you do not seem to support my rights, I will support yours. Including your right to criticize the work of others even though I strongly suspect that you did not see this production! I only wish that the level of our public discourse be elevated both by better and more harmonious language and by correctly stated facts. I hope you will not be too distressed to learn that season I shall be directing two new productions in Perm, where I continue to be invited. Maybe we will have the opportunity to meet and engage in a more courteous debate.

          • Russian Opera buff says:

            Ah yes, Mr Hunt is again speaking from his nice conceited comfort of western Europe n’est pas?
            Let’s put it this way.
            Someone as blind as you has no qualification for commenting about anything.

            You are as much a PRODUCT of the system as Correntzis.
            That’s why you can only come up with weak knee stuff, “I do not like everything that I see”.
            People like you will never be seen to be standing up for anything, least of all getting covered in green die, being beaten up or being arrested in the middle of a rehearsal as happened recently to an excellent violinist in N Chelny. (not far from Perm btw!).

            You are there to profit, and further your own ego.

            You constantly qualify YOU OWN work as “The reaction of the audience ..positive”, or “a number of radio and television interviews – the most recent being at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk”, which of course will congratulate you warmly outside Russia for your courageous stand in Poland eh?

            You have no idea what people really think or experience.
            That is quite beyond you..

            Take this to remember:-

            “When the Nazis came for the communists,
            I remained silent;
            I was not a communist.

            When they locked up the social democrats,
            I remained silent;
            I was not a social democrat.

            When they came for the trade unionists,
            I did not speak out;
            I was not a trade unionist.

            When they came for the Jews,
            I remained silent;
            I wasn’t a Jew.

            When they came for me,
            there was no one left to speak out.”

            and also:-

            “The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing”.

  • norman lebrecht says:

    what has been censored?

  • Diana Mary Sitek says:

    And what is the Russian Opera Buff doing to rectify these terrible issues? Explain to the decadent West why Russia continually insists on tolerating dictators. Perhaps that will expose the root of the problem.