Put on the hot seat in the West, in New York and Munich, since the start of the war in Ukraine, declared a traitor to her homeland by the Duma, the Russian singer agreed to speak, in “Le Monde”, before her recital at the Philharmonie de Paris, May 25.
“Everything has changed… Nothing will ever be the same again. These bittersweet words, as an opera heroine might sing them, punctuate the interview Anna Netrebko gave us on Monday, May 16. But we are in Vienna, in real life, and the Russian soprano, who will perform in recital on May 25 at the Philharmonie de Paris, has seen her world rock. The pandemic first. Then the war.
Disease? She immediately decided not to worry too much about it, being wary of the “paranoid excesses” deployed against the coronavirus. Result: she fell ill as soon as the Bolshoi reopened. “I caught the virus twice, ” she says. In September 2020, then with the Omicron variant, in March, a much less severe form. “ In Moscow, the singer found herself, on September 18, 2020, to “celebrate” her 49th birthday in a hospital, nailed by severe pneumonia. “I had a fever, but I could sing, she says, launching a note at the top of her voice. I also got back on stage very quickly. »
From Adulation to Suspicion
The artist has one of the most beautiful voices on the lyrical planet. A luscious timbre – the power of breath and technique in tempered steel – at the service of a career whose natural development towards increasingly dramatic roles seems to defy physiological laws. After twenty years at the top, the tide suddenly turned, with adulation giving way to suspicion, even rejection. It started with the Metropolitan Opera (Met) in New York, in the days following the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine.
On February 25 and 26, the soprano spoke out against the war, before informing on March 1, through the Zurich Opera, that she was temporarily withdrawing from musical life. On the phone, relations between Met boss Peter Gelb and the star singer are respectful, even cordial. On March 3, Gelb announced in consultation the cancellation of Turandot, which the Russian diva was to sing in April-May, but he unilaterally added that of Don Carlo, by Verdi, scheduled for 2023, stating doubts about a possible return of the soprano. “The Met was the first to insist that I clarify my position, explains Anna Netrebko. What I have done. But I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin. I answered that I had a Russian passport, that it was still the president, and that I could not pronounce these words publicly. So I refused. »
All the productions of the soprano are definitely questioned at the Met in New York, as well as the periods reserved until May 2026. A real shock