Munich opera boss gets hoaxed by ‘Ukrainian culture minister’

Munich opera boss gets hoaxed by ‘Ukrainian culture minister’


norman lebrecht

May 19, 2022

Bavarian Radio reports that Serge Dorny, Belgian director of Bavarian State Opera, was phone-hoaxed by a pair of Russian comedians, Wowan and Lexus, who persuaded him that they were the Ukrainian minister of culture.

Among other things, Dorny spoke of his aversion to Valery Gergiev and Anna Netrebko:

‘Despite the fact that he is my very good friend, I had Valery Gergiev thrown out. Even though we’ve known each other for 35 years. I also parted ways with Anna Netrebko and a ballet director who is very close to the regime. People should be judged differently. I don’t want to see artists like that with us.

‘We have no plans to work with Netrebko in the future. We have renounced that. I told her on the phone: ‘You went to Donetsk, you collected donations. And now you explain that you weren’t involved? You’re either in or out of politics, depending on whether it’s profitable for you. I don’t understand.” In any case, Netrebko reacted “too late”.’

His comments have been gleefully reported on Russian media.


  • TanayRadum says:

    You know it’s the opera business when willfully attempt to destroy the lives and careers of your “very good friends” of 35 years. It’s filled with this type of scum at all levels.

    • Anthony Sayer says:

      Difficult to disagree with a single word of your post. Bravo.

    • guest says:

      You know it’s a Russian bot when they confuse opera with ballet. More so when they claim Dorny and Zelensky were good friends for 35 years. Zelensky is 52 years old. 35 years ago he was in ballet school. Dorny, who is several years older, had a job in Belgium at La Monnaie.

      The whining ‘willfully attempt to destroy the lives and careers of …’ sounds very much like the whining we got for Gergiev’s fate. Back then it was ‘he is stripped of work and income.’ After Gergiev’s fortune was revealed in the press, the trolls left with the tail between their legs. I wonder how long are they going to last this time. Perhaps until Zelensky gets a few cushy positions in Russia? He was up to his neck in his pet ‘cultural’ project in Crimea all these years.

      Not saying that Dorny wasn’t stupid to fall for the hoax – but I wonder why an experienced public person with a team around him would fall for it, babbling himself silly to someone who contacts his office over the phone and whose identity can’t be confirmed. Surely it wasn’t the first time someone had tried to talk to him?

  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    La Monnaie in Brussels will be staging The Queen of Spades and Onegin next season. Fortunately Tchaikovsky isn’t being banned.

  • Muddy Boots says:

    What makes people think Dorny wouldn’t have said the same thing if he knew they weren’t Ukrainian, if he knew they were Russian, or whatever? Dorny’s comments about Netrebko being for separatists in Donetsk when it is opportune, and then claiming it was apolitical (with no expression of regret) is exactly right. As to gleeful reporting in the Russian press…really? That might be the only opportunity Dorny would have to speak the truth to Russians.

  • Eric B says:

    It’s rather ironical to see Dorny trying to play the model anti-fascist, when he’s known in the whole opera world for his dictatorial management style….

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    I wonder if Monsieur Dorny was speaking on a Vertu Signature Cobra mobile phone to go with his Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pen billed to l’Opéra National de Lyon?