Russian soprano Netrebko condemns war, to resume performing in May
Anna Netrebko -- one of the world's best-known opera singers -- said she wanted to set the record straight and did not support President Vladimir Putin GEORG HOCHMUTH APA/AFP/File

Russian superstar soprano Anna Netrebko on Wednesday condemned the war in Ukraine and said she would return to the stage after cancelling concerts in the wake of criticism that she was close to the Kremlin.

As many Russian artists face pressure to publicly denounce Putin's invasion or risk losing their engagements, Netrebko -- one of the world's best-known opera singers -- said on Facebook that she wanted to set the record straight and did not support President Vladimir Putin.

"I expressly condemn the war against Ukraine and my thoughts are with the victims of this war and their families," she wrote.

Netrebko, 50, said she was "neither a member of a political party nor am I linked to any leader of Russia" and admitted that she "recognizes and regrets that my actions and statements in the past could in part be misconstrued."

She insisted she had met Putin "only a handful of times, mainly to accept awards for my art or at the opening of the Olympic Games."

The singer said she had "never received financial support from the Russian government" and lives in Austria "which is also my tax home."

"I love my homeland Russia," Netrebko said, adding that she "aimed only to foster peace and unity with my art."

"After the announced pause in performances, I will resume my opera and concert appearances at the end of May, beginning in Europe," she said.

Russian conductor and Kremlin loyalist, Valery Gergiev -- also the man who discovered Netrebko -- was last month stripped of his role at the Munich Philharmonic and declared persona non grata at several prestigious concert halls for failing to criticize Putin.

Netrebko, who had similarly been seen as close to Putin, had cancelled concerts in Europe and the United States after New York's Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall cut their ties with her because of her perceived support for Moscow.

"After the announced pause in performances, I will resume my opera and concert appearances at the end of May, beginning in Europe," she said.

Russian conductor and Kremlin loyalist, Valery Gergiev -- also the man who discovered Netrebko -- was last month stripped of his role at the Munich Philharmonic and declared persona non grata at several prestigious concert halls for failing to criticize Putin.

Netrebko, who had similarly been seen as close to Putin, had cancelled concerts in Europe and the United States after New York's Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall cut their ties with her because of her perceived support for Moscow.

Other Russian stars have been vocal in their opposition to the war.

Prima ballerina Olga Smirnova last week quit the Bolshoi in Moscow to join the Dutch National Ballet, after saying she was against the war "with all the fibers of my soul."

© 2022 AFP