Eyvazov latest: Armenian Foreign Ministry official gets involved

Eyvazov latest: Armenian Foreign Ministry official gets involved


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2020

Lusine Shirinyan, an official of the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan, has circulated a statement by Agence Massis Opéra, disputing the denials by SemperOpernball that it fired the Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan at Yusif Eyvazov’s request.

Ms Shirinyan who works in the USA and Canada Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yerevan, had previously accused Eyvazov of ‘Armenophobia’: On the day of the 30th anniversary of the Armenian massacre in Baku Azerbaijani opera singer Yusif Eyvazov announces he refuses to perform on stage with Armenian soprano Ruzan Mantashyan at Dresden Opera Ball citing her nationality. What is this if not Armenophobia? Ruzan, you are the best! I am proud to have known you since childhood. This outrageous incident should be condemned and the festival boycotted.

Here’s the statement by Agence Massis Opera:

To confirm the facts and put an end to this bitter controversy

In response to the press release from Semper Opernball and the rebuttals from Mr. Yusif Eyvazov :
The “misunderstanding,” which is alluded to in the press release, would like to attribute responsibility for this “conflict” to Agence Massis Opéra.
In reality, it would seem instead to relate to the relations between the various collaborators of this Association, directed by Dr. Hans-Joachim Frey.

Indeed, after a first written contact in September 2019 asking us for the availability of Miss Mantashyan for the date of the concert, the written exchanges continued, without any particular problem, to deal with the various usual elements of a negotiation – contact details, program, financial conditions, visa application, etc
After about 15 email-exchanges, the file seemed complete.
So there was a willingness on the part of the Semper Opernball to hire Ruzan Mantashyan for the concert on February 7.

On January 10, 2020, we received a last written message announcing the cancellation of Ruzan Mantashyan’s participation, because Mr. Yusif Eyvazov did not wish to perform with her for the reasons mentioned in our first press release.
This may have created a very uneasy situation for the organizers, but we have no form of responsibility in the evolution of this situation, which is penalizing for our artist. We do not doubt the SemperOpernball’s respectability and its general openness towards artists of all nations and cultures.

Ruzan Mantashyan herself has circulated the statement in French:

“En réponse au communiqué du Semper Opernball et des réfutations de M. Yusif Eyvazov.
Pour confirmer une réalité et mettre fin à cette triste polémique :
Le « malentendu », auquel il est fait allusion dans le communiqué, voudrait attribuer la responsabilité de ce « conflit » à l’Agence Massis Opéra.
En réalité, cela semblerait plutôt concerner les relations entre les différents collaborateurs de cette Association, dirigée par M. Hans-Joachim Frey.
En effet, après un premier contact – écrit – en septembre 2019 nous demandant la disponibilité de Madame Mantashyan pour la date du concert, les échanges – écrits – se sont poursuivis, sans problème particulier, pour traiter les différents éléments usuels d’une négociation – coordonnées, programme, conditions financières, demande de visa etc…
Cela représente une quinzaine de mails aller-retour à l’issue desquels le dossier a été complet.
Il y a donc bien eu volonté, de la part du Semper Opernball, d’engager Madame Mantashyan pour le concert du 7 février prochain.
Le 10 janvier 2020, nous avons reçu un dernier message – écrit – nous annonçant l’annulation de la participation de Ruzan Mantashyan, au motif que M. Yusif Eyvazov ne souhaitait pas se produire avec elle pour les raisons évoquées dans notre premier communiqué
Cela a peut-être créé une situation embarrassante pour les organisateurs, mais nous n’avons aucune forme de responsabilité dans l’évolution de cette situation, négative et pénalisante pour notre artiste.
Nous n’avons aucun doute sur la position du Semper Opernball concernant l’universalité de ses objectifs.


  • Alex Klein says:

    Mr. Eyvazov’s attitude does not belong in this century. We have all strived to embrace inclusion, inspired by the total lack thereof on so many horrible events in the past century, where human beings were not – and many still are not – judged by their character and abilities, but by their place of birth, color of skin, or other trait one is absolutely incapable of changing or being responsible for.

    Under this circumstance, Mr. Eyvazov opens up the likelihood of a return to widespread discrimination. Will it be ok if he is not engaged because his first name, Yusif, “appears to be” Jewish? One reckons no. When the tables turn, therefore, Mr. Eyvazov would claim the same protections he is now denying to Ms. Mantashyan. Shame!

    This discrimination has no place in the musical arts, and Mr. Eyvazov ought to apologize not only to his colleague, but TO ALL OF US for using our carefully built music world to promote his bigotry.

    My eyes and ears are also in Dresden to see how that community and management will deal with this. Will they set the course for a future of inclusion, or lend us a sad comparison to German attitudes of decades past?

  • Peter says:

    This is simply outrageous!!! We are living in 2020, how is it possible that a mediocre tenor singing all over the world because of his spouse is permitted to cancel somebody else’s participation in an event?
    Why have a (fake) statement issued (by the Semper Opernball or by the tenor involved?) when they all knew the real truth, when they had everything in writing? Moreover, he also mocked her, knowing the truth behind it?This makes it even more scandalous!!!
    This so-called tenor should be banned for racism!
    Music always brings people together, no matter the nationality, religion, skin colour or sexual orientation! But how could such an amateur tenor understand this?
    Brava to her and to her agency for speaking out, people in high positions in the opera world should learn something from this and avoid hiring such frauds.
    If he is imposed by his spouse, then maybe these people should think twice if it is worth hiring a mediocre tenor just to have his wife sing or better drop them both if she will not sing without him! I am literally disgusted!
    What a disgrace!

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Hear, hear Peter! I did hear Eyvazov singing in Turandot at the Met recently and he is functional but never memorable. He’s lucky to have his wife, because without her I think he would be a superstar in the Baku opera house and nowhere else.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    If he was not married to Anna Netrebko, he would never have got away with it. She has too much power in relation to opera houses now & increasingly taking advantage of it. I think he deserves to be booed at least.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Jingoism is reckless and should be condemned, “artist” or not.

  • againsbigotry says:

    ANNNNND NOW Yusif Eyvasov writes on social media that he would be willing to participate with Ruzan Mantashyan, on condition that the contract was fully executed. So, let’s ignore the fact that once terms are agreed upon via writing in the EU that basically serves as a contract established between the presenting organization and the agency/singer until a formal contract is issued.

    After lying that he made no demand that the company get rid of her, mocking her on the grounds that she is doing this for publicity, and denigrating a very talented artist with a MAJOR INTERNATIONAL CAREER (seemingly earned without significant help of a spouse, I can’t resist adding), he does not have the decency simply to apologize for the kind of xenophobic behavior that cannot be allowed in an international field like opera.

    I could stomach it enough if he never accepted the offer in the first place on political grounds, but let’s be clear: he is not objecting to Ruzan Mantashyan’s political affiliations or opinions, which I doubt he knows. In demanding her off the program, he was objecting to her nationality. Moreover, it is outrageous he actually impacted another person’s ability to work for his own political predilections grounded in xenophobia (let’s also clarify that these are economically motivated predilections, given that he and Netrebko probably get paid stupid amounts of money to appear at various Azeri events). The presenter’s response in half-baked English and not particularly well-written German is inexcusable.

    After all this, why should Mantashyan want to sing with him, if he did not even have the decency to apologize for his blatant lack of respect towards another colleague? Why does he say he would only sing with her if she has a fully-executed contract, rather than that he’d be happy to sing with her generally?

  • V. Lind says:

    “…the various usual elements of a negotiation – contact details, program, financial conditions, visa application, etc
    After about 15 email-exchanges, the file seemed complete.”

    Not sure if “contact” is a typo for “contract,” or if it is just what it says. And I do not like that “seemed.”

    I don’t like this much, either: “This may have created a very uneasy situation for the organizers, but we have no form of responsibility in the evolution of this situation, which is penalizing for our artist.”

    They didn’t start the problem, no — that was clearly originated by Eyvazov and/or the organisers. But if they had not nailed down a contract for Ms. Mantashyan after all those negotiations, then they failed in their responsibility to her. It seems inconceivable to me that an artists, if signed for an event, should be dismissed because of a Johnny-come-lately with a prejudice problem.

    She should at least be paid — in full. And they owe her a major and public apology. SHE had “no form of responsibility for the evolution of this problem.” And her agency is supposed to protect her.

    • againstbigotry says:

      The thing is that, if the agency and presenter agreed to terms in writing via email, that counts as legally binding according to EU law, as well as in a lot of the United States, especially if the agent had just been awaiting a formal contract. Of course, an agency is supposed to protect the artist, but it may not be worth going into litigation over a fee for a charity concert. In that case, it would be the artist herself who would file suit, since agencies act as mediators between the presenter and artist.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    To everyone involved: get over it, make friends, and make music.
    Alle Menschen werden Brüder, right?
    I’m talkin’ to YOU, Mr. Eyvazov.

  • nomen nescio says:

    “On the day of the 30th anniversary of the Armenian massacre”…Europe hails the MultiCult.

  • Nick says:

    Isn’t this an anti-Christian crusade by an Azerbaijani against a Christian (Armenian)? Azeris are mostly Muslims.
    Most likely another religious intolerance.

    • Larry D says:

      Into this you have to insert your own brand of bigotry? Just when it seemed all the comments here were in political solidarity for the first time in Slipped Disc history!

    • Againstbigotry says:

      Not exactly. Basic history lesson: Armenian/azeri hostilities revolve primarily around the region artsakh (also known as nagorno-karabakh). The region historically consisted of an armenian majority, but The Soviets called the region Azeri when marking the borders. As the Soviet Union collapsed, the Armenian majority in Artsakh demanded the right to self identify, and Azerbaijan responded with pogroms against Armenians in Baku and throughout the country. What followed was a war between the two emerging countries, a conflict that is now
      Frozen. The region now is technically self-governing, but essentially considers itself a defacto part of Armenia, not Azerbaijan. You can only enter the region via Armenia, and Having an Artsakh Visa in your passport basically prevents you from ever entering Azerbaijan.