Diva Anna Netrebko sues Met over Russia-Ukraine conflict firing

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one among opera’s greatest stars, sued the Metropolitan Opera and its normal supervisor Friday, alleging discrimination when the corporate dropped her after Russia invaded Ukraine.

The go well with, filed within the U.S. District Court docket for the Southern District of New York, consists of claims of nationwide origin discrimination, breach of contract and defamation. Netrebko is asking for not less than $360,000 in damages, citing misplaced efficiency and rehearsal charges.

The Met severed its relationship with Netrebko in March 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the earlier month. Met normal supervisor Peter Gelb stated on the time she “is without doubt one of the biggest singers in Met historical past, however with Putin killing harmless victims in Ukraine, there was no manner ahead.” Netrebko had made a number of statements opposing the conflict and violence on the time of her ouster, however didn’t conform to Gelb’s request that she particularly condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin, in accordance with her go well with.

“Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Met and Peter Gelb have used Anna Netrebko as a scapegoat of their marketing campaign to distance themselves from Russia and to assist Ukraine,” a press release from Netrebko’s administration despatched to The Washington Submit reads.

“Ms. Netrebko’s lawsuit has no benefit,” the Met’s press workplace stated Friday in an unsigned assertion.

Julie Ulmet, Netrebko’s lawyer, stated the singer determined to file go well with after a labor arbitrator ordered the Met to pay her greater than $200,000 this yr for 13 performances through which she would have starred. The arbitrator left open “whether or not the Met’s termination of sure different contracts violated state legislation,” Ulmet stated.

The go well with cites agreements Netrebko and the Met had made for performances by way of the 2025-26 season, together with productions of “Tosca” and “Macbeth.” The Met advised Netrebko in 2022 it was canceling “all holds for future seasons” along with her 2023-24 contracts, per her lawsuit.

Earlier than Russia invaded Ukraine, Netrebko had been one of many Met’s marquee names. Starting together with her 2002 Met debut, she averaged ten reveals a yr at firm, together with a number of starring roles, her lawsuit stated. It cited news coverage calling her “the face of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.”

She had additionally been an outspoken supporter of Putin earlier than the invasion, calling him “a really engaging man” and endorsing him for the Russian presidency in 2012. She distanced herself from the Russian chief after the conflict started, saying “I’m not a member of any political celebration nor am I allied with any chief of Russia. I acknowledge and remorse that previous actions or statements of mine may have been misinterpreted.”

The choice to half methods with Netrebko wasn’t the Met’s solely transfer to assist Ukraine. The corporate helped kind the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which excursions “to assist Ukrainian artists.” The orchestra is helmed by Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, who can also be married to Gelb, in accordance with a New York Occasions profile of the music energy couple.

“Music is usually a highly effective weapon in opposition to oppression. This tour is supposed to defend Ukrainian artwork and its courageous artists as they combat for the liberty of their nation,” Gelb stated in a joint assertion saying the orchestra’s tour.

Regardless of her absence from the Met, Netrebko has discovered a house at different famed homes, together with the Vienna State Opera and Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Nonetheless, the go well with says the Met and Gelb “harmed Netrebko’s status with audiences and opera followers, together with by encouraging protests of her performances.”

“Netrebko has suffered, and continues to endure, extreme psychological anguish and emotional misery, together with, however not restricted to, melancholy, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and nervousness, and emotional ache and struggling,” her lawsuit states.

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