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Netrebko Wins $200K Over Met Cancellations

By Michael Vincent on March 20, 2023

Anna Netrebko
Anna Netrebko on the ‘magenta carpet’ at Life Ball 2013 at the square in front of the city hall of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. (Manfred Werner/Creative Commons)

The New York Times has reported Anna Netrebko, Russian soprano and Putin supporter, has been awarded $200,000 after the Metropolitan Opera cancelled 13 of her performances last year.

What happened?

The Met demanded that Netrebko denounce Putin over Ukraine, but she refused. Arbitrator Howard C. Edelman ruled in her favour, stating her political beliefs were her right and not grounds for dismissal.

Netrebko cited a “pay or play” agreement, which mandates payment even if performances are cancelled. The Met argued that she violated the company’s conduct clause. Netrebko originally sought $400,000 for future performances, but the arbitrator found no official contracts in place. Additionally, she received a $30,000 penalty for making “inappropriate” statements about the invasion.

More backlash

Netrebko faced backlash last year for wearing blackface makeup during a performance of Verdi’s “Aida” in Italy. Leading soprano Angel Blue condemned it as “offensive, humiliating, and outright racist.” The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, expressed disappointment in losing Netrebko but acknowledged the majority of the audience wouldn’t tolerate her presence.

What about Yusif Eyvazov?

The Met announced Friday that it was firing Netrebko’s husband, tenor Yusif Eyvazov, from the upcoming March 30 production of “Tosca.”

Judging from Netrebko, we can expect the MET may be liable to compensate him as well.


Netrebko has also faced a series of cancellations worldwide due to her ties to Putin. As tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated last year, many Russian celebrities were pressured to publicly condemn the conflict, with varying levels of compliance.

Michael Vincent
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