Anna Netrebko pitches for a return in Paris

Anna Netrebko pitches for a return in Paris


norman lebrecht

May 23, 2022

The Russian soprano has used Le Monde to deliver a defence of her position in the Russia-Ukraine war.

She says, among other things, that she could not denounce Putin because he was president of her country and that her donations to the separatist leader in Ukraine (pictured) were intended for the Donetsk opera house, ‘nothing political’.

She also said she had withdrawn from Valry Gergiev’s White Nights festival.


  • The View from America says:

    TLTL — Too little, too late.

    • jane christo says:

      It is incomprehensible to me why people do not understand why it could be dangerous for Ms. Netrebko to speak out against the complete dictator of Russia, both for her and her relatives.. Although she lives in Vienna, her relatives do not. Over 2000 people have been jailed in Russia for speaking negatively againt the war in Ukraine.

  • PS says:

    It looks like Russia will be putting on the next round of Nazi war crimes trials, so you will see for yourself who you’ve been defending. I don’t think Zelensky’s “they are who they are, they defended Ukraine” or Elon Musk’s “there are no angels in war” will be enough to excuse them.

    • Julien says:

      Russian trolls are everywhere. About as proficient as the russian army.

      • Ted says:

        There used to be a joke in the army(U. S. Army) about a certain country,’s army tanks having six gears, 1 forward and six in reverse. Russian tanks have 7 gears: 1 is “stalled” next one is “abandoned” the next 4 are all “do something stupid” and the last is “BOOM”

      • IP says:

        They said that Mr.P. does not care much for classical music, and it might be true. The troll output in Telegraph or Guardian is of much higher quality.

    • marcus says:

      Are you on drugs?

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Good, now we know that it was ‘nothing political’, so what’s the problem? 🙂

  • guest says:

    Some people don’t understand that the first rule when you find yourself in a deep hole, is stop digging. Dear Anna’s agent, this media hullabaloo is ‘too much, too late.’ Are we now supposed to believe the nice polished story her new agent has concocted with the help of a few well paid consultants, just in case his own gray cells weren’t enough?

    The real Anna is the Anna of poor English and abusive social media comments, the Anna who calles her critics ‘human shit’, the Anna who uses Soviet propaganda lingo in her comments, the Anna who confuses ‘political regime’ with ‘country’, the Anna who refused to publicly distance herself from Putin, complete with online tantrum, conflating him with ‘Motherland’. She is nothing if not outspoken, dear Anna is, her education and talent as a singer in inverse proportion to her outspokeness. The new Anna – the polished Anna – is her agent, and the first statement of her agent was nothing but a bid for future employment at the Met. It failed. The U.S. doesn’t share Anna’s love for Putin. Now her agent tries his luck on her behalf with a new polished statement.

    It beats me why any opera house should hire her. Plenty of mediocre sopranos around, most of them willing to take their clothes off on stage, all of them better looking than AN. Looks and willingness is all that matter in the Brave New World, a brave new world Anna herself championed on Italian TV not so long ago. So dear opera managers, why take her when there’s plenty of fish in the pond? There isn’t plenty of good opera singers, but this problem apparently never made it onto your radar, dear opera managers. Tell us why you should take AN when you just have to stretch your hand to grab one soprano or other with a thick non-Italian accent, mumbled, unfocused emission in lower part of the voice (or no emission at all), strident emission in the upper part, no agility, and a wobble? – though, to be fair to AN, the wobble was worse a few years ago, she apparently fixed it a bit at the expense of increasing other deficiencies. Come to think of it, you have only to stretch your hand and you’ll get better sopranos, though not significantly better.

    • Ted says:

      Recently read an interesting book by Fiona Hill, an actual educated expert not merely on Putin but how Russian society is different from most western models, so get of your high horse, nurse your saddle sores and get your head out of the place where the sun don’t shine. I am well versed myself on Russia, the USSR and have k own for 2 decades what Putin is, a nationalism essentially a Nazi. Netrebko is an operatic
      Gift who may have opi ions, which is her right, but is politically naive. There is no call for your vitriol, and I suspect you are plain stupid. ☹️

      • guest says:

        You a fan? Only fans hyperventilate and resort to ad hominem when they don’t have any arguments, which happens all the time. Like singer, like fan. Dear Anna calls critics ‘human shit’, you resort to ‘stupid’. Ted, you may _believe_ you know Russian society, you may even _know_ Russian society for all I care, but you don’t know operatic singing from a mop if you believe AN is ‘operatic gift’, with capital G no less. Seldom laughed so hard. Thanks.

        And Ted, it’s the Russian Federation these days, not the USSR. Just saying’. They are priding themselves of having left their old inglorious makeup behind them long ago. Apparently you are of a different opinion. Take care they don’t find out.

        Please spare me further political talk. Not interested. My comment wasn’t about politics, it was about AN and her sub-par singing these days, and about her real persona as witnessed in her social media posts, in contradiction with the artificial image her new agent tries so hard to create.

        • Pianist says:

          Dear guest, you have been routinely flooding threads dedicated to the current witch hunts against Russian artists with the allegations of their “mediocrity”. You were claiming the same about Matochkina, in the related thread. As one notorious political figure once said, ““If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”. Unfortunately for you, invoking Netrebko’s “sub-par singing” reaffirms that your harangues against her and other Russian artists are predicated on purely political (Russophobic) leanings, rather than on any professional assessment. Your obsession with Russophobia would be even enthralling if it weren’t so deplorable.

          • guest says:

            Dear Pianist.

            If you can’t hear AN’s unfocused lows, her dwindling middle, her sharp top, her wobble (to be fair to her, the wobble was worse a few years back, she fixed a good deal of it at the expense of worsening other issues), her lack of agility, her inability to keep the right pitch – well, dear Pianist, I’m afraid I can’t help you, the problem is with your hearing and the brain between the ears. Particularly your inability to hear her pitch problems is strange for someone who calls himself ‘Pianist.’ Even more strange is the fact that you have forgotten I told you (and your buddy trolls) all these things more than once. If I am not mistaken, the last time was one or two days ago. Online posting ain’t therapy for Alzheimer, dear Pianist. I am sincerely sorry if you are so afflicted, I believe there’s no medical cure for it.

            If someone is obsessed with seeing Russophobia everywhere, that’s you, or the one who’s paying you. As someone else said on this site, loosely paraphrased, the Russian trolls factory is working at capacity and about as efficient as the Russian army. And about as entertaining as a broken recording. The last is from me.

          • Pianist says:

            Dear Guest, I am as much a Russian troll as you are an anti- Russian one. ‘Trolling’ involves posting inflammatory or offensive comments, and your vehement anti-Russian diatribes are a textbook case thereof. On the other hand, I completely understand that life is hard nowadays. So long as online posting that continually castigates representatives of a particular nation provides an outlet and makes you feel better, be my guest (pun intended).

          • guest says:

            Dear Pianist.

            Your last is further proof you are a Russian agitprop, should I need further proof.

            Quote: ‘So long as online posting that continually castigates _representatives of a particular nation_ provides…’

            This happens when you read only SD posts dealing with _Russian_ performers, dear Pianist. You suffer from tunnel vision syndrome. He who is feeding himself just one diet shouldn’t complain of monotony. If you would consider enlarging your horizon by reading other posts as well, you might be in for an embarrassing surprise – that is, if you can feel embarrassment, which I doubt.

            In our cozy little chat in the other post, you dropped all musical pretensions and told me directly you are here to agitate the political waters. You may want to reconsider your approach. It pains me to criticize you but you lack finesse. The staleness of the approach suggests disinterest, and there’s also the matter of your vocabulary. I discreetly suggested to you in the other thread you should drop the overused platitudes, unfortunately I see you still feed mainly on ‘witch hunt’, ‘Russophobia’ and ‘life is hard’. Chanting them like a broken recording isn’t going to make a convert for your cause of anybody with half a brain. And think of Norman too, isn’t he going to be hurt? Doesn’t he deserve better than second and third rank of trolls, while the really good (and entertaining) ones have a party at the newspapers?

          • Pianist says:

            “Ad hominem is a notoriously weak logical argument. And is usually used to distract the focus of a discussion – to move it from an indefensible point and to attack the opponent.”
            ~ Lord Aquitainus Attis ~ Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher” Dear Guest, Strangely, my acquaintance with you and your style over the last couple of days have been more than sufficient to prevent me from “enlarging my horizons” through familiarizing myself with your posts in other threads. I am somehow confident you have been true to yourself everywhere. :). Good luck with everything. I hope you feel better someday.

          • guest says:

            You exhibit the same faulty reasoning as AN – when in hole, you dig deeper, trying hard to pile the debris on other people. Dear ‘Pianist’, the facts are very simple:

            1. You don’t know anything about music, instrumental or vocal
            2. You are a Russian troll writing on this site with the express purpose of muddying the political waters (correction: You read & write only on posts reporting about Russian performers)
            3. You wallow in propaganda cliches

            This is all. You may continue to do somersaults here in a futile attempt of presenting yourself as a victim, and insulting me to deflect scrutiny from your person, it doesn’t matter. Too little, too late, too boring. We got your measure, and your measure is very short.

          • Pianist says:

            Dear Guest, your continuous attempts to expose my “Russian troll” identity are as cute as they are puerile and have been based on your stereotyping me into the very narrow scale of scenarios your imagination supplies. In fact, I live in the US. But what if I lived in Russia? Would repeating that I am a Russian troll substantively contribute to the discussion? And would repeating that in every post which accuses ME of cliches be a bit ironic? 🙂 If it helps, I am not interested in your geographic location, nor your musical education matters. It is the degree of chauvinistic vitriol you unleash that fascinated me. However, our exchange has indeed become boring. Since you are a guest, I suggest you consider wrapping up the visit and heading home. 🙂

      • Maria says:

        We all mostly don’t understand the Russian culture and way of life.

      • SunnyEd says:

        So…you’re the only one allowed to opine?

    • Maria says:

      Obviously you’re an expert! If life itself were so simple as yours and human beings were all so perfect as you, it would be wonderful! So much Netrebko-bashing on here and hatred, and so unnecessary. Don’t like her singing, and fine! But to assassinate her character when you probably don’t even know her or even met her, is just horrible.

      • guest says:

        re character assassination, I’m afraid she did it all herself. I assure you it wasn’t me who wrote those insulting posts on her social media, it was dear Anna herself. Strange you don’t protest her agent’s manufacturing a new image for her, but you shoot the messenger (me) who hasn’t posted any manipulative statements.

    • IP says:

      But didn’t you know that she is The Biggest Temptation in the History of Opera? That’s what the PR guy said.

  • Brian says:

    Not only do I believe her, but it has been clear from the very beginning that this was the case.

  • Bloom says:

    It is bizarre how she is trying to shape her own morals , which are flawed indeed, but consistent with her Russian upbringing and dual citizenship.

  • MuddyBoots says:

    It’s not just “too little, too late” it is worse. The excuse that she can’t criticize (or even say she disagrees with) the War Criminal who happens to be president of “her country” is one of her worst statements yet. First: if Russia is “her country”, she should be stripped of Austrian citizenship immediately; that is a conflicting allegiance that should not be allowed under Austrian law.

    Second, a donation to an opera house should go to that opera house directly–that’s how most people do it. Is she saying her financial managers couldn’t just wire money to the opera house, or she couldn’t write a check…like ordinary people do? She didn’t do that because this was a publicity event on behalf of a separatist politician and his violent separatist policy…and the check was given to him to show her support of his breakaway Donetsk “republic”. That’s why the separatist flag was prominent there.

    Third: note that there is not even a whiff of regret for her past actions. She thinks she can “explain” this away without an apology, the same way she got away from criticism of her dark-face Aida, or her support for Putin’s anti-gay policies. Just like Putin thought he would get away with invading Ukraine, just like he got away with invading Chechnya, Georgia, Syria.

    But finally the world is awake– very late, but awake nonetheless. These lines can no longer be crossed and then explained away and forgotten. Putin won’t get away with it, and neither will his accomplice-of-convenience-and-opportunism Anna.

  • Laura Ellis says:

    I wanted t ok write how I really felt but realized that anyone who can be this self centred and insensitive does not deserve my attention. If she cannot demonstrate the sensitivity required to handle the situation my post won’t help. Karma might.

  • Carlo Caiani says:

    What a hypocrite…!?

    She wants her cake & eat it too..!?

  • MuddyBoots says:

    So a brutal and murderous invasion of a peaceful sovereign nation by the war criminal Putin is not enough for Anna to denounce “the president of her country”. She should be asked, what actions by Putin WOULD be enough to move her to denounce him? Is there ANYTHING that would cause her to withdraw her support for Putin? Apparently not.
    And please stop the “she is at risk” nonsense. Anna is an Austrian citizen, has a magnificent home there, very likely lots of assets in Europe, and absolutely no family in Russia. Unlike the protesters in Russia, unlike the diplomat who recently resigned…and many more brave people who are at risk, Anna is safe, protected and extremely wealthy in Europe.

    • Pianist says:

      Dear MuddyBoots, please remind me an instance when a single American artist was expected (or better yet, forced) to denounce the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 (which killed an estimated total of 200000 people)? Or how many voluntarily came out and condemned them? I can’t think of anything remotely as brutal and murderous that has occurred on our planet since then. Nor, to the best of my recollection, was anyone ever ‘cancelled’ as a result of these atrocities. A bit of double-standard, no? Oops, I forgot… that had been long before our Western civilization became obsessed with cancel culture.

      • MuddyBoots says:

        Pianist, your “history” is oh-so-selective. You have forgotten–or never knew– that the Japanese were the aggressors in WWII. Their brutality and war crimes in invading China might have exceeded even that of the Nazis. An estimated 6 million died in China as a result of this invasion. And then there was the invasion of the Philippines, Korea, Indochina, Indonesia and many other Pacific islands.

        The US used the atomic bomb to force the Japanese to surrender so the US did not have to invade Japan itself, which would have resulted in orders of magnitude more deaths. And that strategy succeeded in ending the war.

        If you doubt that the Japanese military needed to be stopped by an atomic show of force, please read the following for estimates of Japanese democide (genocide, mass murder and politicide) from 1937 through 1945.

        Or don’t they teach that history in Russian schools?

        • SqueakyCleanSandals says:

          So, MuddyBoots, this is what they teach you in your school? That political expediency (forcing an enemy to surrender) justifies dropping nuclear bombs on civil population? Because “the Japanese military needed to be stopped”? The US ever cared about the Chinese people? Like it does now? What a shameless attempt to whitewash a barbarity.
          “That strategy succeeded” ???Nothing justifies the horrors unleashed by those bombings. Nothing ever could and nothing ever will.

          • MuddyBoots says:

            So you do not think that Japanese militarism and democide needed to be stopped?
            Strange that you are so compassionate about Hiroshima’s victims.
            Why don’t you show some concern for the TENS of MILLIONS in countries invaded by Japan, those in China, Korea, Indochina, Indonesia, and the Philippines, and the MULTI-MILLIONS who were killed or starved to death in those invaded areas. The Japanese military was ready to sacrifice the lives of both military and Japanese civilians to continue the war without surrender. What exactly was the alternative to stop their murderous occupation of the western Pacific? You are the one who seems to have no knowledge of history. Actually, I don’t think you give a s*it about any of these people, you are just here to argue for Putin and against the US.

          • SqueakyCleanSandals says:

            “What exactly was the alternative to stop their murderous occupation of the western Pacific?”
            Some thoughts for you, student of history:

            1) Enter the WWII much earlier. Not in 1941, after the Japanese haad wrecked the US fleet, but the minute you became so concerned about the tens of millions invaded by Japan. Perhaps you could have saved many lives if you weren’t sitting on the fence until they hit you.
            2) If you are so horrified by the plight of Chinese, Koreans, Indonesians, Filipinos, don’t nuke innocent civilians in Japan. Fight with conventional weapons.
            3) You wouldn’t be attacking Russia right now, to protect Ukraine, right? Because the retribution would devastate you. So, don’t use lethal, unconventional force against countries that can’t reciprocate. Pick on someone you size. Then you could think about claiming the moral high ground. Hope this helps.

  • Rafael F says:

    Guess Mr. Putin ain’t such a bad person after all. This co called World or art and culture is run by hypocrites, and just like artists do, they like to condemn and complain as long as their own bank accounts are not affected.