Russian opera star files lawsuit against Metropolitan Opera over firing

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera in New York City after being dropped by the opera house following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The internationally renowned opera singer is seeking $360,000 in damages from the Met and its manager, Peter Gelb, alleging defamation, breach of contract, and other violations. In her lawsuit, Netrebko claims that the Met caused her significant emotional distress and financial losses. The opera house has responded by stating that the lawsuit has no merit.

Netrebko, who has previously expressed support for President Vladimir Putin, faced pressure from the Met to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. While she eventually spoke out against the conflict, she did not denounce Putin, leading to her firing from future performances at the Met. Her lawsuit further alleges that the Met and Gelb encouraged protests against her performances, causing damage to her reputation among audiences.

Earlier this year, Netrebko filed a separate complaint through the American Guild of Musical Artists, claiming that the Met violated a contractual agreement when canceling some of her performances. An arbitrator ruled in her favor and awarded her over $200,000 in compensation.

Despite being dropped by the Met, Netrebko has continued to perform elsewhere, including recent shows in Italy. She is also scheduled for upcoming performances in Buenos Aires, Berlin, Vienna, Milan, and Paris. However, there have been efforts to cancel her October concert in Prague, as she is reportedly on Ukraine’s sanctions list. Netrebko’s producer argues that she has already condemned the war and does not understand the push for cancellation.

This lawsuit and the subsequent response from the Met raise important questions about artists’ freedom of expression and the potential consequences of publicly voicing political support. It also highlights the power dynamics within the opera industry and the influence of geopolitical events on artistic careers.

As the legal proceedings continue, it is essential to monitor the impact on Netrebko’s reputation and future opportunities. Additionally, this case calls for a broader discussion on the relationship between art, politics, and personal beliefs, as well as the responsibility of institutions in managing controversies involving their performers.