A protest was held in Berlin before Anna Netrebko’s speech

A protest was held in Berlin before Anna Netrebko’s speech

On Friday evening, the premiere of the new production of Giuseppe Verda’s opera “Macbeth” with Anna Netrebko in the role of Lady Macbeth took place at the Berlin State Opera. About 150 people came to a rally in front of the opera house to express their disagreement with the singer’s performance.

Protesters held Ukrainian flags and placards with the words “Russia is a terrorist State” and chanted “No Netrebko!”. The police fenced off the territory of the demonstration with barriers to protect the opera audience.

This was Netrebko’s first performance in the German capital after the start of Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine. Tickets to the opera hall for 1,400 seats were sold out long before the premiere. Already after the first arias performed by Netrebko, cries of protest were heard from the audience. However, after the performance, the audience stood and applauded for several minutes.

Before Anna Netrebko’s performance, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Aleksey Makeev expressed his protest in an open petition against Netrebko’s participation in the new production of the opera “Macbeth”.

“Netrebko, which previously supported Putin and helped him in his propaganda of the occupation of Donbass, bears personal responsibility in Russia’s full-scale war,” Makeev wrote.

The ambassador also noted that in her statement, Netrebko only condemned the war and did not mention who started it and who is leading it. Makeev emphasized that against the background of the complete suspension of any state, scientific, academic, regional and practically all public cooperation with Russia, the Berlin Opera continues “culture as usual”. According to him, the management of the opera is sending a “signal of ignoring”.

Before the start of the opera, Makeev, together with the head of the culture department of the Berlin Senate, Joe Chialo, visited the photo exhibition Russian War Crimes, located in the building of the Humboldt Brothers University, opposite the opera house. The Ambassador of Ukraine understood the fact that politicians from the executive authorities of Berlin cannot have a direct influence on the opera house. Makeev emphasized that he tried to explain to the director of the theater Matias Shults why Netrebko’s speech was unacceptable, but he did not receive a satisfactory answer.

Joe Chialo stated that he did not attempt to dissuade the director of the opera house from the production. “I must respect the independence of theaters. This principle is highly valued in our democracy,” explained the head of the Senate Department of Culture.

Earlier, the Ukrainian NGO Vitsche sent a letter of protest to the opera house. The press service of the Radio Liberty Theater confirmed the receipt of numerous letters both in support of Netrebko’s performance and against it. A statement about Netrebko’s performance in the opera “Macbeth” was published on the institution’s website. In it, the directorate of the opera theater expresses solidarity with Ukraine and emphasizes that in a personal conversation it was able to convince itself of the sincerity of the condemnation of the war expressed by Anna Netrebko.

Three more evenings with the opera “Macbeth” in this production and with this cast are planned in the theater.

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