Vienna Opera will keep Russians and Ukrainians on its stage

Vienna Opera will keep Russians and Ukrainians on its stage


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2022

A statement from the Ring side:

As an international opera and ballet house, we are happy and proud to unite artists from the most diverse nations on our stage – including Ukraine and Russia – who live their passion, love and devotion to music, song and dance in peaceful coexistence every evening across political, linguistic, national, cultural or religious differences and share their enthusiasm with the audience. Many of them have been at home in Vienna for many years and are an important part of Europe. With their work they set a strong sign for peace, international understanding and bridge building between cultures.

Russia’s brutal war of aggression on Ukraine leaves us stunned day after day and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Our full solidarity goes to Ukraine and our thoughts are with all people who are currently experiencing immeasurable suffering, including families and friends of our ensemble members, staff or our guests.

However, in the last few days we have received more and more demands not to allow the Russian members of the ensemble, the Vienna State Ballet as well as Russian guests to perform.

We strongly reject these demands for separation as well as a world view that classifies people as “good” or “bad” only on the basis of their origin. Current developments must not lead to the exclusion of individuals from cultural creation solely on the basis of their nationality.
Some comments are directed explicitly and in a hurtful way against artists of our institution. We reserve the right to delete these comments.


  • Absurdistan says:

    Finally, a management of some principle. Surely the newly self-appointed witch hunters, the cancellation hyenas, will feel a reflex outrage manifested in angry, self-righteous comments.

  • MusicLover says:

    Bravo. It’s so important for big institutions like this to take a stance against discrimination based on heritage or nationality.

  • Günther Kraus says:

    To me it seems that Bogdan Roščić is essentially building a straw man argument.

    He gives the requisite lip service speaking out against the atrocities of the war, and then refutes the calls to ban all Russian artists, including many who have rebuked Putin publicly, which nobody is really making.

    However, he uses these arguments (that nobody has made) to justify the continuation of a collaboration with Frau Netrebko and Herr Gergiev, both of whom have cozied up to Putin.

    We see where your loyalties lie, Herr Roščič. When the history of this horrific war is written we shall not forget that you stood by the artists who embraced a dictator.

    • Ana says:

      Did you think the same way about Karajan, herr Kraus? Could you remind me, please, on which side was Austria in WWll, herr Kraus?

    • Guest says:

      Herr Günter!!!

      According to you we shoud ban every Russian artist and than hate them until the end of time because of the war.

  • guest says:

    I strongly disagree that what has been going on in the last years on opera stages can be called “cultural creation.”

    “With their work they set a strong sign for peace,”
    Cynical me is sure that world peace isn’t first and foremost on a singer’s mind when stepping onto the stage. Given the mediocrity of most singers’ instrument, particularly the hyped stars, their top priority must be to make it through the performance without major blunders. I am also sure the public doesn’t attend in the hope of getting strong signs of peace, they attend in the hope of getting a good performance, an increasingly rare event.

    And now, after having ticked the all-important box of inclusivity, _again_ , and the no less important box of virtue signalling, dare the public hope the Vienna State Opera will turn their attention to a box _wanting_ ticking, namely the quality box? Their performances are wonderfully inclusive (they had even a singer from Samoa), but distressingly mediocre.

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    I can see their point but it will be interesting to see whether their Ukrainian artists will be prepared to work with Russians.

    • poyu says:

      If not, that would be up to their work contract. But most of cases I have heard are opposite, people get alone well and don‘t talk about politics. I am a Taiwanese and I have Chinese colleagues without issue.

  • Cara Cara Meravigliosa says:

    So long as known Putin sympathizers like Netrebko and Gergiev don’t appear on that stage, this is fine by me. No need to punish an accomplished people for the sins of their despot.

  • Demetris Siromahov says:

    Bravo – respect to all Russian and Ukrainian artist . Hope Anna Netrebko will perform soon

    • Astra says:

      Speak for yourself

    • guest says:

      @Demetris Perhaps you should have a look at the hundreds of comments on the Vienna State Opera’s channel for a sobering reality check. AN’s views aren’t forgotten, and lots of people take the Vienna State Opera to task for failing to make a distinction between Russians who support Putin and Russians who don’t.

  • Popescu Zoița says:

    A good and a logical decision! Bravo!

  • Spyros Svo says:

    It depends because there are two categories of Russians artists the ones who support Putin and the others who disapprove him

  • Robin Worth says:

    They are making a distinction between Russian individuals and the Russian state, and this is not unreasonable

    Consider the Bolshoi : very much an element of the Russian state and thus uninvited to the ROH this summer. One is sad not to see them this year, but one has to accept it.

    Consider also Natalia Osipova : applauded last week at the Coliseum for her performance as an individual artist and a human being who has said she opposes war.

    It would be entirely wrong to ban all Russians for the mere fact of their nationality

  • Mhte says:


  • Peter Vadasz says:

    I commend your policy of not excluding people on the basis of their ethnic origin, irrespective of how their respective national governments behave.

  • F.Ahmad says:

    It is good to keep some sanity alive ! Those artists have nothing to do with the differences of their countries. It is also not right to ask them to take sides as they have no choice but to remain neutral.

  • Liloloperaluv says:

    I agree with the policy. Surprised they are allowed to travel outside Russia lest they learn the truth. Perhaps images of the destruction should be shown along with applause when appropriate. Will they be allowed to return with the knowledge so acquired?

  • Myoren says:

    What Vienna and some of the people commenting here either ignore or are indifferent to, is the fact that that we do not want to support, financially or otherwise, artists/institutions who support the Russian war on Ukraine. It’s not about your nationality (although the Putin supporting soon-to-be-forever-forgotten Russian artists like Netrbko seem to make it about their nationality), it’s about your values.

    If your nationality is a reason for you to support an illegal war on a democracy, then you should be discriminated for this.