Hundreds protest Netrebko’s Wiesbaden concert

Hundreds protest Netrebko’s Wiesbaden concert


norman lebrecht

May 06, 2023

Some 450-500 people turned out on Friday night to picket Anna Netrebko’s appearance in Wiesbaden’s May Festival, singing Abigaille in a concert performance of Verdi’s Nabucco.

The Ukrainian consul-general named her among ‘the most toxic contemporary Russian singers’ for her former proximity to the Russian president, Putin.

Among the demonstrators were several musicians from the Hessian State Theatre, who were then obliged to perform with her in concert.


  • A.L. says:

    Good for them and as well they did.

  • Luiz F. says:

    Imagine caring that much about an artist’s political opinion. It’s like caring for a dictators… Artistic opinions? Maybe, depends on the autocratic tool.

  • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

    Netrebko’s performance was outstanding nonetheless.

  • Tamino says:

    what a weird bunch of protestors.

    The young girl to the left holds a sign “Let’s get to Berlin – like 1945?”

    Is she and/or her handlers sad, that Hitler was defeated by the Soviet Army reaching Berlin in 1945? It seems like it. Bad judgement for a placard or is she a Nazi?

    The one to the right says “The Russian culture is a deadly virus”.
    Now where did we hear that kind of terminology – in Germany – before?

    Who are these people? They have no better words to protest Putin’s aggression in Ukraine? Why do their slogans sound like bad Nazi propaganda? Why do they make the stupid mistake to feed into Putin’s propaganda at home, that justifies attacking Ukraine with the need to clean it from Nazis?

    • Matthias says:

      I agree that it is a badly worded and confusing sign. I think what she is trying to point out is that Russian propaganda likes to say “to Berlin like in 1945”, as they think of their attack as an anti-Nazi operation and they like to threaten Germany. So I think the sign is trying to engage Germans by showing the Russian slander and threats against them.

      • guest says:

        And for additional context, we have to remember that Germany killed 27 million people in the USSR including 3 million POWs mass murdered through starvation and slave labor; all part of a plan to exterminate the Slavic people and colonize their lands. The trauma still exists in the Russian mind and it lies behind their emotions in this war. Putin is a fool and a war criminal, but if peace is to be found both sides will have to at least try understand the perspectives of their enemies as bitter as that may be. For now, however, we can expect a long period of hatred and one-sided views from all concerned and with the attendant slaughter, waste, misery, and destruction for all concerned.

        • Bengt Johansson says:

          Bad americanos. Have you ever heard about Stalin, and the 43 miljonen other killed during that war, (if the sum is just 70, but it is often mentioned to be 85 milijon causalities) maybe it was the allied who killed a lot as well and just not the axis powers? Do you believe that american story that the atom boms saved 3 miljon lives?
          Americas and Englands cooperation with Sovjetunion against Germany was perhaps even more evil than nazi Germany? It is very easy to just talk about peple kiled between 1 september 1939 and 8 may 1945 and pretend no millions were murdered by the sovjets betwen 1917 and 1991. 3 miljon germans also died as a result of Potsdam conferens when they robbed and raped german lands and expelled 15-18 miljon germans, but it does not matter for american Gutmenschen.
          70 years of komunism bets 6 years of holocaust in numbers.

      • Tamino says:

        @Matthias: where does current Russian propaganda say “to Berlin like 1945”? I can’t follow all the news, but I never heard that.

        And they like to threaten Germany? How so? When?

        • Jean says:

          Where? Basically everywhere. Took me about 5 seconds to find this clip from the Russian state television:

          It’s basically every night on their television.

          Also, many Russian tanks have texts: “Na Berlin” (to Berlin):

          See now ?

          Further, here’s also another video where Russian state tv calls Scholz as the new Hitler:

          Do you need anything else ?

          • Tamino says:

            Yes, because those are not threats. More like delusion. Or because some idiot says something on TV that’s not an official threat either.
            Do you take what’s on FoxNews also as official Washington communication?

            Also you don’t get the context of the “Na Berlin” motto. Did you have history in school? It’s not meant literally certainly.

          • Jean says:

            Rossija1 is Russia’s NATIONAL TV channel, financed 100% by the RUSSIAN state. It is their OFFICIAL channel. And this stuff is broadcasted each day on prime time.

            USA does not have any national tv channels. Fox is a private company which, in fact, just had to pay 800 million $ in a law suit for spreading false news!

            Rossija1 will never have any law suits in Russian courts, because it is owned by the STATE.

            See the difference ??

            >>Also you don’t get the context of the “Na Berlin” motto. Did you have history in school? It’s not meant literally certainly>>

            Oh yes, just like my Russian friends told me in February 2022: “Calm down. Russia does not mean literally to attack Ukraine” – but it did.

            I certainly did, and I have a feeling that I’m getting the context much, much better than you do 🙂

            Have a nice day.

          • william osborne says:

            The first example is actually a rabble rouser on a Polish TV & Radio station. The second some graffiti on a destroyed tanks. And so on. There is no meaningful indication that Russia has its eyes on Berlin. That’s war-mongering of the most ridiculous sort. If NATO actually thought Russia plans to invade Germany this war would already be very different and far more extreme.

            And on the other side, there is a good bit of talk in the USA about breaking up Russia (see the link,) an equally ridiculous concept, but it is part of what is behind Putin’s war-mongering about existential threats to Russia. War feeds on the hatred created by propagandistic misinformation.


            Let’s see now, Venuzuela is planning to invade Canada and surprise attack the USA from the north…

          • Jean says:

            Polish? Solovyev is a Kremlin propagandist in a Russia’s national tv channel. Nothing to do with Poland:


            >>If NATO actually thought Russia plans to invade Germany this war would already be very different and far more extreme. >>

            Guess why? Because the Ukrainians are managing to keep the Russians at bay.

            In Russian / Soviet mentality, East Germany is still 100% theirs. You are forgetting that Putin served in East Germany and was traumatized by the German unification. Russians never wanted NATO presence in ex-East Germany.

            In Russian mentality, if something was ever part of their zone of influence, it will always be. This is the Russian “mir”.

          • Tamino says:

            What is your solution? Stirring up more hate and feeding into the war mongering fears, building on old archetypical fears, on any side is never a solution.

            We Europeans have no say on the Grand Chessboard.
            And Putin is an idiot with loss of sense of reality, for posing with artificially inflated chest to be a better player than he actually is on that chessboard.

            But what is the solution, with ruling out further escalation into a nuclear war? What can be done to bring peace to Ukraine and to Europe, realistically?

          • Tamino says:

            There is always silence, after you ask the haters and war mongers on any side for actual solutions. Revealing.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Wiesbaden police reported 450 demonstrators. Our sources say somewhat more.

      • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

        My sources say there were about 12.5 to 123 protesters.
        Now what?

      • Hermann Lederer says:

        Then read the German newspapers correctly. The police counted a maximum of 200. Colleagues of mine counted 5 minutes before the start of the performance a little over 100.

  • just saying says:

    “former proximity”

    …then why are they still protesting her if she is no longer affiliated?

  • Dan says:

    I’d like to see how brave those protesters would be if they had family in Russia.
    Same goes for the keyboard warriors here.
    There’s a sad lack of perspective from those that think the political views of classical artists or the protests from numbers so paltry you could probably fit them into 2 London buses, have any significance or relevance whatsoever.

  • Potpourri says:

    According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine the Europa Union called for the demonstration against Netrebko. Wiesbaden district chairman Peter H. Niederetz said he expected 1,000 demonstrators.However, Welt reported there were 200-300, not as many protesters as announced.Perhaps some of the 1,041 people attending the opera were mistaken for protesters. Not all opera fans wear gowns and dinner jackets.
    Spiegel reported that the Ukrainian Consul General Vadym Kostiuk said the people who invited Anna Netrebko “are all inhuman.” Not very diplomatic to refer to residents of your host country as inhuman.