The Metropolitan Opera said Sunday it would no longer work with performers or other institutions that have expressed support for Russian President Vladimir V Putin, becoming the latest cultural organization to try to break away from some Russian performers amid Mr Putin’s invasion to distance Ukraine.
Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said the Met, which has long employed Russians as top singers and has a production partnership with the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, has a duty to support the people of Ukraine.
“While we firmly believe in the warm friendship and cultural exchanges that have long existed between the artists and artistic institutions of Russia and the United States,” Mr. Gelb said in a video statement, “we can no longer engage with artists or institutions who support Putin or are supported by him.”
Mr Gelb added that the directive would remain in effect “until the invasion and killing have been stopped, order restored and reparations made”.
The Met’s decision could affect artists like superstar soprano Anna Netrebko, who has and once was ties to Mr. Putin pictured with a flag used by some Russian-backed separatist groups in Ukraine. Ms. Netrebko is scheduled to perform in Puccini’s “Turandot” at the Met beginning April 30.
Ms Netrebko has tried to distance herself from the invasion by releasing a statement on Instagram on Saturday saying she was “against this war”. She added a defiant note, writing that “it is not right to force artists or other public figures to publicly express their political opinions and denounce their home country”.
It was unclear if her testimony would pass the Met’s new test.
The company’s decision is also likely to spell the end of its association with the Bolshoi, including a new production of Wagner’s Lohengrin planned for next season. The Met relied on the Bolshoi for the staging’s sets and costumes, but now it may have to change course.
“We’re scrambling, but I think we’re going to have no choice but to physically build our own sets and costumes,” Mr. Gelb said in an interview Sunday night.
He added that he was saddened that the Bolshoi partnership, which began five years ago, was likely to come to an end – at least for now.
“It’s terrible that artistic relationships, at least temporarily, are the collateral damage of these actions by Putin,” he said.
The Met’s decision comes as performing arts institutions grapple with the lingering fallout from Putin’s invasion. In recent days, Russian artists, long ubiquitous in classical music, have come under pressure to condemn Putin’s actions or face the prospect of canceled engagements.
Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Philharmonic last week scraped two Russian performers, conductor Valery Gergiev and pianist Denis Matsuev, from a series of scheduled concerts because the two men are linked to Mr Putin. Mr. Gergiev is also at risk of losing several important posts, including as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic and honorary conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
On Sunday, Mr. Gergiev’s manager announced that he was ending the relationship with his client.
“It has become impossible and clearly unwelcome for us to defend the interests of Maestro Gergiev, one of the greatest conductors of all time, a visionary artist loved and admired by many of us and who will not or cannot publicly end his long professed Support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes,” Munich-based manager Marcus Felsner said in a statement.
The Royal Opera House in London said on Friday it would cancel a Bolshoi Ballet residency planned for this summer.