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Russian soprano who refused to condemn Putin sues US opera house after she was dropped

A Russian singer, who was dropped by a US opera house because she refused to renounce Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, is suing her former employer.

A lawsuit filed by soprano Anna Netrebko is seeking around $360,000 (£281,000), claiming she was defamed by the Metropolitan Opera and her contract was breached.

She was dropped by the New York-based company shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, after failing to repudiate Mr Putin, despite being asked to by the opera’s manager.

Follow live updates on the Ukraine war as Zelenskyy prepares for Jeddah peace talks


Born in the southern Russia city of Krasnodar, Ms Netrebko is a distinguished soprano, with a career spanning works by Mozart, Puccini, Verdi and Tchaikovsky.

She was the first classical music artist to be named in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people list.

But her refusal to denounce the war has attracted controversy. In May, hundreds demonstrated to protest her performance at a festival in the German city of Wiesbaden.

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She claims the Met caused “severe mental anguish and emotional distress” that included “depression, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, and emotional pain and suffering”.

A statement from her management said: “Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Met and Peter Gelb [the general manager] have used Anna Netrebko as a scapegoat in their campaign to distance themselves from Russia and to support Ukraine.”

The Met said in a statement: “Ms Netrebko’s lawsuit has no merit.”

Read more:
The West risks tipping the conflict in Russia’s favour – here’s why
Ukraine has set the stage for a new era of war

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In February, the American Guild of Music filed on behalf of Ms Netrebko, with an arbitrator saying the Met violated the union’s collective bargaining agreement when it dropped her to star in Verdi’s Don Carlos and La Forza Del Destino, and Giordano’s Andrea Chenier.

She was awarded around $200,000 (£156,000) for lost performances.


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