Netrebko packs out La Scala

Netrebko packs out La Scala


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2023

Last night’s recital of songs by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky was a total sell-out at La Scala (and you can read both meanings into that phrase).

Anna Netrebko was partnered at the piano by Elena  Bashkirova, Barenboim’s wife.

She will also open La Scala’s next season on December 7 as Elisabetta in Verdi’s Don Carlo.

Her ties with the crucible of Italian opera are tightening, despite universal acknowledgement of her past support for Vladimir Putin, who is now an indicted war criminal.

The management of La Scala needs to check its moral compass.



  • A.L. says:

    Real shame on Bashkirova for performing with that two-faced whatchamacallit. The Barenboims ought to know much better than that, like walking their talk. So does La Scala. This is classical music Mafia at play and on display. They protect and elevate one another at whatever moral and ethical cost.

  • PS says:

    Trump and Putin will not be deterred by fake indictments. Any idea why Israel hasn’t signed on to the International Criminal Court? Or the U.S.? All this does is push Russia even closer to China and India while we whine about how awful their partnership is.

  • I beg your pardon says:

    Music is music, politics is politics. End of story, goodbye, THE END!

    Viva Italia for doing this.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    There is clearly an audience willing to pay to listen to her. Managements, well some of them, are keeping her off their stages and presumably paying not insubstantial money when they breach the contracts they have entered into. Seemingly La Scala is not one of them and whatever we may think of their motivations they don’t seem to care too much. Maybe suggest a boycott of the theatre and see how far that gets but taking the high moral ground by elements of the commentariat does not seem to bother too many of the audience. How many, I wonder, would stay away should houses that are currently boycotting her actually relented? Perhaps more than we might care to want to believe.

    • Natalie says:

      I wonder how many opera- lovers suggested a boycott of Metropolitan Opera and continously insulted vocalists for not distancing from President Bush when US invaded Iraq or President Clinton bombed Serbia? Or mayby art had nothing to do with politics that time?

      • PFmus says:

        Same old fake whataboutism I see, dear. So two wrongs make a right? Hang it up,Komrade.

      • MacroV says:

        A very appalling false equivalent. Bush wasn’t a President-for-life, and much as I opposed the Iraq war (and disliked Bush), we left, and we never denied Iraq was a nation-state (although Iraq is basically a creation of British colonial line-drawers).

        And Serbia had it coming, given its many ethnic cleansing campaigns.

      • Tamino says:

        People are always good in pointing out the moral flaws and hypocrisy in OTHERS than themselves.

      • Em says:

        Obviously it s what US did in Irak that bothers you, not what Putin is doing in Europe.
        Yes, Putin is backed by the russian people. It seems by almost all russian.
        Also by those who say they are not interested in politics

  • Hilly says:

    Just imagine if Rudolf Bing would have barred Richard Tucker at the stage entrance of the Met , because Tucker did not support a Palestinian state.Or he would have fired Corelli because he failed to denounce Mussollinni’s invasion of Ethiopia, or he fired Jose Carreras because of his vocal support for a separate Catalonian state.Gelb must stop this idiocy, these are opera singers not political analysts! Let them sing!

    • Ludwig's Van says:

      It’s not totally Gelb’s decision – he gets pressure from donors, audience members, and other artists – it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      Ignorance on steroids. Corelli was born in 1921, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia started 1935. How many 14 year olds make public political statements? Or should he have condemned it in 1961, when he first sang at the Met? 16 years after the end of WWII.

      BTW: who is this “Mussollinni” guy?

    • MacroV says:

      Rostropovich was exiled from the Soviet Union because he stood up for Solzhenitsyn; Casals refused to play in Franco’s Spain. Netrebko could publicly walk away from Russia and Putin and would be received as a hero.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Good examples of extraordinary human beings. They are in short supply these days.

      • Novagerio says:

        Slava and Casals were universal geniuses. Netrebko is…not

      • Wagfan says:

        She basically has. She is banned from performing there (Russia), she hasn’t set foot in Russia since the war started, and she has publicly decried and denounced the war at least two separate times. It’s equivalent of walking away from Russia & Putin, the way I see it.

    • Jay says:

      Your comments are a bit incorrect your time line is off

    • Oski says:

      Brilliant words!,

  • Alan Polak says:

    You need to check your moral compass. How much does the CIA pay you?

  • Em says:

    There are lots of wealthy russians in Italy. We don t know in fact how many non russians packed the opera house and if the opera house would be packed out if there were no russians in Italy.
    So we cannot jump to any conclusion.
    It sounds more like a promoting title in the italian press.
    La Scala is packed out also for other concerts/operas.

  • Tom Phillips says:

    As a people, Italians have certainly never been known for their morality or insightful political judgment. And – like Trump – Putin resembles a stereotypical mob boss, perhaps explaining their intense popularity with so many Italian Americans.

  • Nina says:

    It’s amazing how someone would issue Schengen visas to Russians at a time like this. Here you need to have about 20,000 dollars a month (legal salary) in order to apply for a single visa (Italy) for several days. Because of this, talented Russian musicians cannot even attend training courses, like one of my acquaintances, who is known all over the world, but here her salary is less than 1,000 dollars. Because of this, she was not able to go for an internship in Europe as a conductor (it was a competition, and she passed). Why can Netrebko travel and earn money, while talented young musicians cannot attend internships?!

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      Because thanks to the pathetic sychophancy of the Austrian government, the non-German speaking Donna Anna is an Austrian citizen thus not requiring a Schengen zone visa.

  • Luiz says:

    Also from his wife

  • Pounce Kitty says:

    The inane silliness and bigotry of punishing an artist for their politics is rubbish and oppression. Wagner, anyone? Schwarzkopf? Von Karajan? Now let’s get to facts: Zelensky is a punk criminal laundering money for the Biden Crime Family.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Oh, honey…seek help.

    • Alan Polak says:

      Spot on. The Met Opera were delighted to welcome Karajan, who had been a member of the Nazi Party, shortly after the war.
      I’ll bet that Lebrecht listens to his recordings, and those of Schwartzkopf that other Nazi.
      As for that notorious antisemite Wagner, what can you say? These Russophobes are hypocrites of the worst sort.

      • Tom Phillips says:

        Karajan made a tiny handful of appearances at the Met conducting 2 operas of the Ring (not the full cycle) and did not appear until 1968, over 2 decades after the war not “shortly after”.

        • Alan Polak says:

          Your right that he didn’t go to the Met until 1968, but this evades the point that being a Nazi is a lot more serious than anything Netrebko is accused of. Putin is not Hitler. Earlier events than Karajan’s appearance at the Met are also relevant to confirming the hypocrisy of Netrebko’s critics.
          During its 1955 tour of the United States, Karajan’s past membership in the Nazi Party led to the Berlin Philharmonic’s concerts being banned in Detroit, and Philadelphia Orchestra music director Eugene Ormandy refused to shake Karajan’s hand. Upon arriving in New York City for a concert at Carnegie Hall, Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic were confronted by protests and picketers. Not all Americans wanted the Nazi to perform in their country, but plenty did.

          • MacroV says:

            Putin may not be Hitler, but he’s definitely in Franco territory. He’s unquestionably a war criminal, what with the bombing of civilian targets and the kidnapping of thousands of children, considered a form of genocide. So being in any way supportive of Putin is definitely damning at this point.

    • Em says:

      Take care of yourself!

  • Maria Wimmer says:

    Anna Netrebko said something against the war late and very carefully and she was banned there,too. I think she has a lot of family in russia.If you want a heroe try it by yourself.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      I don’t believe she has a “lot” of family remaining in Russia. That smart, she is. Hero, she ain’t. Forgotten, she will be.