Russian soprano Anna Netrebko to resume performing in May

BERLIN (AP) — Russian soprano Anna Netrebko said Wednesday that she plans to resume performing in late May after announcing in the early days of the war in Ukraine that she was taking a “step back” from the stage.

In a statement, Netrebko also repeated her opposition to the war and said she was not “allied with any leader of Russia.”

The 50-year-old opera singer said at the beginning of March that she was “opposed to this senseless war of aggression” and calling on Russia to end it. “This is not a time for me to make music and perform,” Netrebko said back then.

That followed an Instagram post in which she had condemned the war but also said that “forcing artists, or any public figure to voice their political opinions in public and to denounce their homeland is not right. This should be a free choice.”

Netrebko received the People’s Artist of Russia honor from Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2008.

In her Wednesday statement, she said she has met Putin “only a handful of times in my entire life, most notably on the occasion of receiving awards in recognition of my art or at the Olympics opening ceremony.”

“I am not a member of any political party nor am I allied with any leader of Russia,” Netrebko said. “I acknowledge and regret that past actions or statements of mine could have been misinterpreted.”

Netrebko said she otherwise has never received financial support from the Russian government and noted that she lives in Austria, where she is resident for tax purposes.

“After taking my announced break, I will resume performing in late May, initially in Europe,” she said. The statement didn’t give further details.

On March 3, Netrebko withdrew from future performances at New York’s Metropolitan Opera rather than comply with the Met’s condition that she repudiate her support for Putin.

“Having read Anna’s statement, we’re not prepared to change our position,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb said in a statement Wednesday. “If Anna demonstrates that she has truly and completely disassociated herself from Putin over the long-term, I would be willing to have a conversation.”

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