A Russian soprano won a $200,000 payout from the Metropolitan Opera after it canceled a series of performances last year when it refused to denounce leader Vladimir Putin.
Anna Netrebko, who endorsed Putin for president in 2012 and called his Western critics “evil,” was one of the biggest stars at the Met until she was suddenly cut from 13 shows after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. .
An arbitrator has now ruled that she should be compensated for the canceled performances, saying there is “no doubt” that she is a Putin supporter, but that she had “every right” to be.
Netrebko, who was also embroiled in a blackface scandal last year, had a ‘pay or play’ deal with the Opera that requires institutions to pay performers, even if they later decide to cancel.
But the bosses argued that she was not entitled to the money because she had violated the company’s conduct clause.
Anna Netrebko, who endorsed Putin for president in 2012 and called his Western critics “evil,” was one of the biggest opera stars before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Netrebko distanced himself from Putin last year but did not publicly condemn him. She is pictured with him in 2013.
She denounced the war last February and distanced herself from the leader, but did not speak publicly against him.
In a ruling seen by the New York Timesreferee Howard C. Edelman said: “There is no question that she was a Putin supporter, as she had a right to be.”
He added that this was “certainly not moral turpitude or worthy, in and of itself, of actionable misconduct.”
The ruling was made last month, but it only came to light this week.
Netrebko had originally sought $400,000 in fees for future performances which he had discussed with the Opera but had not yet formally agreed to.
He was paid around $15,000 for each performance, the Met rate for top performers.
But Edelman said he was not entitled to such fees for those performances because there were no official contracts.
He was also fined $30,000 for making ‘inappropriate’ statements about the invasion.
On social media, he called Western critics of the conflict “as evil as they are blind aggressors.”
Last year she was criticized for a performance of Verdi’s ‘Aida’ in Italy in which she wore blackface makeup.
Row saw leading soprano Angel Blue condemn it as “offensive, humiliating and openly racist”.
He was also fined $30,000 for making “inappropriate” statements, such as calling Western critics of Russia “evil.”
Netrebko had originally sought $400,000 in fees for future performances that he had discussed with the Opera but had not yet formally agreed to.
Last year she was criticized for an “offensive” interpretation of Verdi’s “Aida” in Italy in which she wore blackface makeup.
Met general manager Peter Gelb told the New York Times: ‘Even though our contracts are ‘pay or play’, we didn’t think it was morally right to pay Netrebko anything considering his close relationship with Putin.
“It is an artistic loss to the Met not to have her sing here. But there’s no way the Met or most of its audience will tolerate her presence.
Separately, the Met announced Friday that it was firing Netrebko’s husband.
Tenor Tusif Eyvazov has been cut from a production of ‘Tosca’ that opens on March 30.
And Netrebko has also faced a series of cancellations around the world. She was cut from a concert in Taiwan late this month because of her ties to Putin.
After news of his cancellations of Met performances first broke, he told the French newspaper Le Monde: “The Met was the first to insist that I clarify my position on what I have done.” But they also asked me to testify against Vladimir Putin.
‘I replied that I had a Russian passport, that he was still the president and that I could not pronounce these words in public. So I refused.
He added: “We cannot denounce all my future contracts just because they judge that I am too close to Putin.”
Met general manager Peter Gelb told the New York Times that he did not think it was “morally correct” to pay Netrebko given his ties to Putin.
When tensions between Russia and Ukraine began to escalate in March last year, many Russian celebrities and sports stars came under pressure to publicly condemn the conflict, though many refused to comply.
Earlier this week, Russian tennis player Anastasia Potapova received a formal warning for wearing a Spartak Moscow soccer jersey before her match against American star Jessica Pegula.
The Women’s Tennis Association told the player that the jersey was “not acceptable or appropriate.”