Prague for cancellation of concert by opera star linked to Putin

The Prague authorities said this week they were opposed to a planned performance in the city by Russian opera star Anna Netrebko, citing her ties to the Putin regime. The venue for the concert is now set to negotiate with the agency handling the booking.

After weeks of discussion on the matter, the ruling coalition in Prague has stated that it is “unequivocally opposed” to a planned appearance in the city by the internationally renowned Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.

The city’s government had previously said it might ban the concert over her connections to the Putin regime.

The venue, the Municipal House, is operated by a city-owned joint stock company whose management must decide on the matter. It now plans to discuss abrogating the contract for October’s event with the company representing Netrebko.

Powder tower  (left) and the Municipal House | Photo: Martin Vaniš,  Radio Prague International

The singer, who is 51 and also has Austrian citizenship, supported pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine in the past and is on Ukraine’s own sanctions list.

Critics also say she is close to Vladimir Putin. When Russia’s all-out war on Ukraine began she condemned the conflict online but did not attribute any blame for it to the Kremlin.

Deputy Prague mayor for culture Jiří Pospíšil of TOP 09 recently outlined to Czech Radio the city’s objections to her being allowed to perform.

Jiří Pospíšil | Photo: René Volfík,

“I believe that Anna Netrebko actively supported the Putin regime for over 10 years. There is evidence of that, which I have verified. On the Kremlin’s website there are still official wishes from Putin on her 50th birthday in 2021. For years she was a propaganda shield of the regime. After the war started, she posted twice on her social media basically saying she regretted the war – but she didn’t condemn Putin, or even say who the aggressor was.”

On the same Czech Radio show contrasting opinions were heard from Lubomír Zaorálek of the Social Democrats, who has served as minister of foreign affairs and minister of culture.

Lubomír Zaorálek | Photo: ČT24

“In her post from March 2022, right after the start of the war, she writes, ‘I expressly condemn the war on Ukraine and my thoughts are with the victims of this war. I acknowledge and regret that past actions or statements of mine could have been misinterpreted.’ She also says she never had any financial support from the Russian government. On top of that, opera houses in Germany, Italy, Austria, France and Switzerland have no problem with her.”

However, the soprano does have problems elsewhere. Earlier this month Netrebko sued New York’s Metropolitan Opera, which dropped her after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year.

Deputy Prague mayor Pospíšil concedes that it will be difficult to cancel the contract for the concert. Previous reports suggest the agency handling the booking and the singer herself would seek compensation in the event of such an attempt.

Author: Ian Willoughby
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