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Slipped Disc editorial: Anna Netrebko must state her position on gay rights in Russia

New York writer Scott Rose challenges the diva to state her position on Putin, Tchaikovsky and anti-gay legislation:


On September 23, 2013, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko is due to perform Tatyana in the Metropolitan Opera’s gala opening night performance of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. The composer, as is well known, was a gay man who suffered profoundly due to anti-homosexual prejudices.
The recent passage of nightmare anti-gay legislation under Vladimir Putin in Netrebko’s homeland, combined with the fact that in the past, Netrebko has campaigned for Putin, expressed political support for him and met him in person, shaking his hand would seem to make it imperative that she now use her platform unequivocally to express support for LGBT rights internationally, including in Russia, if in fact she supports gay rights. I e-mailed Netrebko’s New York City management on Saturday, July 27, asking if Anna supports LGBT rights. It is a matter of legitimate public interest to clarify whether Anna Netrebko holds gay human beings in respect or contempt.

Russia’s anti-gay laws are particularly malicious as they imply that all homosexuals are dangerous to children, which is a known falsehood. Some people may not yet have understood the implications of the laws, which forbid all expressions of support for out young gay people. That means a gay teen’s parents may not publicly support their own child in his or her sexual orientation without risking arrest, fines and prison. Meanwhile, even as reactionary forces continue to demonize gays, in scientific communities – including medical sciences and anthropology — there is overwhelming consensus that homosexuality is a virtually universally occurring, normal human variant.

The opera world must rally in support of LGBT Russians as well as of their Russian heterosexual allies whose human rights, freedom of speech and of assembly are being trampled by the Putin regime. Moreover, it would not be at all inappropriate for Metropolitan Opera officials to dedicate, in advance, starting right now, the 2013 – 2014 season’s opening night to the victims of the pernicious anti-gay Russian legislation, with special mention of what Tchaikovsky suffered due to widespread ignorance about gay human beings.

(c) Scott Rose/Slipped Disc

UPDATE: New York Times editorial on the same main theme.

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  1. Doesn’t tolerance extend to those who’s opinions differ from the tolerant?

    • Seriously, Andrew? I hate to bring up a tired example, but following your logic, we all should have been tolerant of Germans’ intolerance for Jews.

      • That’s way over the line. Classic politically correct rhetoric meant to “forbid the forbidder”.

        • Not over the line at all. There is no tolerance for those who seek to jail and harm in the name of bigotry. I might add that the Nazis also sought to exterminate the gay population, in much the same way as Putin would like to.

          • The Nazi movement was full of sexual immorality that glorified the body. The “Pink Swastika” is a source of astounding information about the perversions that penetrated its ideology and practice. Like any totalitarian movement, it sought to eliminate the family unit so as to better control the populace. Based on phony science, its death machines started up with euthanasia. Somehow, this trash seems to be repackaged and served up periodically. The current culture of death is included in so-called “reproductive rights”. This was part of the theme of Pussy Riot and the recent desecration of the Chilean Cathedral.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            ” I might add that the Nazis also sought to exterminate the gay population, in much the same way as Putin would like to.”

            Sorry, but that’s hyperbolic nonsense. Being gay is not illegal in Russia. Careful on the Nazi comparison fallacies “ad absurdum”.

          • I second the replies of cabbagejuice and Fabio Fabrici below. What Fabrici politely terms “hyperbolic nonsense” I’d more frankly call hysteria. The gay pride has a problem . . . and Russia’s law isn’t it. Their tantrum is a disfigurement on America’s presence in the world community.

    • Mathieu says:

      Andrew, your point (if ever there is one) is ludicrous. Of course we could (although I think we shouldn’t) be tolerant of the expression of anti-gay opinions. But there is a difference between expressing such opinions, and having effective power to oppress gays — und using it. Mr Putin isn’t just merely expressing an opinion; he is enacting effective laws. And this we should not tolerate.

      • I’d find it easier to accept what you say were it not for the fact I have too much experience with being accused, in the most abusive terms, of “taking away” the “rights” of gays because I, a solitary person with no political power of any sort, dare to expound in spiritual depth why homosexuality is offensive to the foundational principle of our very human existence.

        When it comes to cracking the whip of intolerance, the gay pride have few rivals. And what’s worse, their intolerance is not just against other humans, but against Principle itself. I’ve been virtually spat in the face for mere mention of the word “principle.”

        And now this loudmouthed American is using his political platform to demand that this lovely opera singer sign onto his gay agenda in Russia, an agenda that has nothing to do with her art and her right to excel in it, or else he wants to see her career destroyed. And that the Met dedicate its season to his idol of gay victimhood. We’re talking blackmail here.

        People with his attitude — notably in regard to the Olympics — are giving new meaning to the term “ugly American.”

        • Norman Lebrecht is a British man who has done most of his work in London. Your ignorance of the man you’re going after with egregious ad hominems is astonishing, especially since you’re disparaging an entire nation in the process.

          You are entitled to every single one of your beliefs. The rest of us are entitled to hold you accountable in your wrongeheadedness. That is not the same thing as intolerance.

  2. This is the ignorance of politics. It’s worldwide ignorance and much of it uses the smokescreen of religion to bolster an ideology.

    Perhaps if people can make a bigger step, believe in themselves a little more, we might end up with a much more informed and enlightened society.

    We’re all in the same boat!

  3. Why is it “imperative” for Ms. Netrebko to make her views known? She is an opera singer, and she does her job quite well, thank-you. I don’t play her CD’s to hear her political and social views, and forcing her to disclose them strikes me as sheer bullying tactics.

    Rally away for LGBT rights in Russia–good on you for doing that. But forcing celebrities to join you is unfair. I, for one, don’t consider it in the “legitimate public interest to clarify whether Anna Netrebko holds gay human beings in respect or contempt.” That just smacks of gossip.

    • My point, exactly. Thank you. There is a witch hunt going on.

    • Scott Rose says:

      Please see the article at this link:

      “Brutal torture, beating death of gay man in Russia sparks fears of more violence”

      • That is absolutley no justification whatsoever for blackmailing Ms. Netrebko and the Met to force them to sign onto the gay “rights” agenda. Such a move is just trashy!

        Do you know what hysteria is? Well, you’re looking at it with this tantrum of calling for boycotts of the Olympics, the opera, et al. Citing an instance of a hate crime does -0- for justice; it just feeds the wildfire of this hysteria.

    • Matthew Name says:

      I think she gave up the option of no comment when she campaigned for Putin. She has already stated her political opinion. The question gives her a chance to redeem herself. If not then her face and voice will be the face and voice of murder and violence of innocent people, simply because they are gay. The beatings, killings and arrests have already started.

      • Bee Kulp says:

        “her face and voice will be the face and voice of murder and violence of innocent people, simply because they are gay” Seriously? I didnt realize opera singers wielded such immense power these days…”She has already stated her political opinion” Yes she has, so why continue to beat a dead horse?

  4. Geoff Radnor says:

    Well said, let’s hope that there is some positive reaction from Netrebko.

    • Let’s hope her positive reaction is to maintain her integrity and refuse to be sucked into this campaign of blackmail and extortion on the part the gay pride, who have no legitimate cause against her.

      • I don’t understand where the blackmail and extortion comes in… is it not the LGBT parties that are suffering here? 7 countries in this world still carry the death penalty for being gay… surely every gay person has a right to fight against that?

  5. She does indeed owe the world a stance on gay rights issues. It is a matter of human rights, not anything else. If democracy truly exists in Russia (and in America, for that matter), the canard of the “pernicious homosexual” ought to finally be stuck in the oven and cooked. Anna Netrwbko is a big star–maybe her “big influence” could prove eye-opening for a Russian public enamored of her. Maybe she could do wonders for Pussy Riot, too.

    • Pussy Riot, indeed! The right to desecrate a Church and scandalize believers. You says “she owes the world” – what tripe!
      There is a good saying that can apply to public morals: “Don’t take down a fence before you know why it was put up.”

      • This suggests Anna has no choices open to her. That is preposterous. There are millions of Russians who have no choices open to them – Ms. Netrebko is not one.

        She could have refused to endorse Putin. Other Russian artists did so, possibly artists with fewer choices.

        As I think of it, she reminds me of Jennifer Lopez, who either “doesn’t know” or “doesn’t do politics” as she picks up millions from those who kill or order killed or imprisoned others around the world.

        • I’d argue that Jennifer Lopez has a leg to stand on in this argument, if Anna Netrebko had stayed politically indifferent then there wouldn’t be such a case for uproar, but she’s shown support for a man who opposes rights for LGBT citizens – surely that’s going to upset people! You can’t display political standing and then not deal with the consequences, either be an artist and just that – or be an artist and a politician but expect to have to give your view.

    • Gurnemanz says:

      “Maybe she could do wonders for Pussy Riot, too.” I somehow doubt Mrs.Netrebko has the ability to install brains in empty heads, which is the only miracle that would actually save these vapid women.

    • No, she does not “owe the world a stance on gay rights issues.” That’s essentially saying she owes you compliance with your extortion demands.

      Look, she’s an opera singer, and doing an exceptionally fine job of it. Leave her alone to do what she’s clearly been called to do, and stop trying to exploit her success for your power-mad cause that has nothing to do with it!

  6. Should Bayreuth dedicate, in advance, starting right now, the 2013 season’s opening to anti-semitism because they’re playing Wagner? Ridiculous.

  7. PK Miller says:

    I do not know Ms. Netrebko or her political views–whether she truly supports Putin and his policies or if she’s going along to save her own skin as many did during the Nazi era. It is reprehensible that any musical artist could support Putin’s policies. Putin, of course, is your garden variety tin pot despot who sees his power eroding & tries to impose totalitarianism, stifling dissent, etc., to preserve his power. This too shall pass.

    I do like the idea of The Met dedicating Opening Night to the oppressed LGBT folks of Russia. After all, it is in the Arts that so many of us have flourished for years. It is why AIDS so disproportionately devastated the artistic communities. (AIDS is N O T a “Gay disease.” The whys and wherefores as to why it was first manifest in the Gay male community are beyond the scope of this response. I have been involved w/the struggle against AIDS for almost 30 years). As to the “straights,” when they come for you….

    • Gurnemanz says:

      The way I see it, the only one here that is being “come for” is Anna Netrebko. The author of this editorial, as another reader put it well, is trying to bully her into a political position that conform to his views. And if she refuses to comply, cue a campaign of delegitimization and character assassination designed ultimately to have opera houses drop her due solely due to her personal beliefs on sexuality and politics, thus robbing her of her livelihood.

      • Scott Rose says:

        Here is an article about recent events in Russia:

        “Russian Neo-Nazis Allegedly Torture Gay Teens In ‘Anti-Pedophilia’ Campaign”

        • Gurnemanz says:

          So? A nutjob is beating and torturing people. Why should this attract special attention of Anna Netrebko and demand that she takes a stand?

          • Scott Rose says:

            Because the country’s leader, whom Madame Netrebko supports, has green-lighted laws and policies that mark gays baselessly as a threat to Russia’s survival. Absurdly, he has said that gay people’s relationships put Russian population growth in jeopardy. Any time a country’s leader fingers a minority as a threat to the country’s existence, he is sending signals. It is no trivial matter that LGBTers make up a disproportionally large percentage of faithful opera-goers. The male lead in this same Met opening night does not exactly make a secret of his orientation. Tilda Swinton recently had herself photographed in front of the Kremlin holding a rainbow flag. For the record, here is what Metropolitan Opera Soprano Aprile Millo said about this issue on her non-confidential Facebook page: Aprile Millo “I do not criticize Madame Netrebko, she is a major voice one of the few today I actually admire. I invite her and all who sing outside of Russia to recognize the dire moment in history and do what Toscanini did against the fascists in Italy. Speak out against this horrible action. Let me remind all, for many years, religion was outlawed as well…. “

          • Gurnemanz says:

            Following this logic if someone shoots and kills a KKK member in America we can blame Barack Obama for the crime (yes it is a crime as far as the law is concerned) and demand that artists who supported him make a stand on violence against the KKK.

            As for Mrs. Millo’s letter, it is merely another, albeit more insidious attempt to bully Mrs. Netrebko, complete with a veiled threat of a public campaign of villification.

          • @ GurnemanzWell, let us think. To make the example truly parallel the following would have had to have happened. – Obama advocated for and signed laws that made being a member (just being a member) of the KKK illegal and punishable by imprisonment. Obama maded statements implying or suggesting KKK members are the cause of all the ills of the country and should be removed from society. If he did those things then, yes, he should be blamed if suddenly wholesale numbers of KKK were “removed from society.”

            This is what Mr. Putin has done. He has marked a group of people for extinction through random acts of hate. By his own actions.

            Now, I ask you, Gurnemanz. Do you really believe your example was comparable?

          • Please excuse the typos above. Typing too quickly.

          • Gurnemanz says:

            Putin signed no laws that outlaw gays and to claim otherwise is a misrepresentation.

        • SchleppaG. says:

          Mr Rose, may I ask you why are singling out Mrs Netrebko and not demanding the same thing from Maestro Gergiev? He is a MUCH bigger and a much more vocal and important supporter of President Putin, and – unlike Mrs Netrebko – holds an official position in Russia. Or is Maestro Gergiev “Untouchable” for press while Mrs Netrebko is an easy target? I think you should be consistent and I challenge you to publicly ask Maestro Gergiev to announce HIS position on what’s going on in Russia, the LGBT law, the Pussy Riot situation, etc etc.

          • Tim Walton says:

            I agree. A comment from Gergiev would be most interesting cosidering his New Concert Hall was paid for by Putin.

            Gergiev to Putin is like Blair to George Bush.

            Excuse my French but both expert Sychophantic Arse lickers

      • Anna Netrebko, now with an Austrian passport (at least so she doesn’t have to keep applying for Schengen visas) and living comfortably outside of Russia most of the time, faces no particular career consequence from taking a stand against Putin and his policies. Other than that she might not be allowed to return home, but other artists have taken that chance before.

      • So, what if your comment read a little like this…

        ‘The way I see it, the only one here that is being “come for” is Anna Netrebko. The author of this editorial, as another reader put it well, is trying to bully her into a political position that conform to his views. And if she refuses to comply, cue a campaign of delegitimization and character assassination designed ultimately to have opera houses drop her due solely due to her personal beliefs that black people are inferior and less deserving of human rights than white people, thus robbing her of her livelihood.’

        Would that be a fair comment to make?

    • I thought I’d seen non-sequitur riddled arguments before. Yours may take the cake in that regard.

      And you have no one but yourself to blame for resurrecting the same old slithering casuistries about AIDS, in the same breath noting its disproportionate incidence among gays, but then denying it’s a gay disease, claiming there’s no explanation for the phenomenon and pretending to be baffled by it.

      I used to be an organizer of blood drives back in the ’80s when AIDS had come to prominent public attention, and I remember how sickened I was by the slippery rationalizations, denials, formalized self-deceptions, feigning ignorance, cloaking and everything else the gay community was engaging in to slither around the truth.

      Under political pressure, the blood bank even had a practice of enabling a gay to save face by going through the entire blood donation process, both the donor and the blood bank knowing full well the blood would immediately have to be discarded.

      FRAUD, at so many levels . . .

  8. John Hames says:

    Scott Rose (whoever he may be) should mind his own business. This opportunistic hounding is as impertinent as the aggressive questioning of Shostakovich in the US, or the ridiculous booing of Russian orchestras after the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. “From the safest places come the bravest words.” Putin is a menace, and I’m sure the Russian legislation is as pernicious as stated, but so is demanding that artists (who are not spokespersons for their country, though they may have their own political views, to which they are entitled, even if unpleasant) speak out and possibly put themselves in an impossible position. For all Rose knows, Anna Netrebko or anyone else may be working hard to remedy the situation, but on their terms, not his.

    • Injustice is everybody’s business. She should speak up and Rose is right to remind her about her responsibility to stand up for justice.

      • John Hames says:

        Possibly, but no one can be interested in everything. I should probably have a view on fishing quotas in the North Sea, but I really haven’t. If I signed every e-petition, however worthy, I’m bombarded with, I’d do little else. You can’t allow your life, personal or public, to be run by media loudmouths. Their agenda is their agenda, not yours. It’s just bullying.

        • @John Hames I would hope that if our president promoted and signed laws that started a direct line to large-scale torturing and murdering members of our society, you would notice. You are not truly comparing fishing quotas to what is occurring in Russia are you?

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            And you are not saying that Putin has signed anything that promotes “large-scale torturing and murdering members of society” either, are you?

            The irony in your word is, that the US in fact IS torturing and murdering all over the world, yet our friends in the US focus their outrage on Russia. I guess it’s human, one doesn’t smell the stink in one’s own house anymore after a while.

          • You might at least allow for the fact that these alleged reports of what Russia is allegedly doing to gays are coming to us from gay advocacy sites. They serve only hysteria, not truth.

            Hames and Fabrici are tamping the hysteria and trying to bring some candor and sobriety to the issue, as does Ilesia below.

          • @Fabio Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. When you foster and support the utter hatred of an entire group, it’s a short line to supporting the violence done to them in the name of that hate. IF you further do not condemn that violence, that line is completely erased.

            Moreover, Putin has not historically treated the “dark-skinned peoples” in his country with love. You may say what you like about US foreign policy, but we do not “cleanse” our country of certain groups because they look or think differently.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            @Janey: Your reasoning is flawed. Please give citations for Putin’s “large-scale torturing and murdering members of society” you alleged, or otherwise find a language that reflects reality rather than hyperbolic nonsense and hysteria.

            Also which people does Putin advocate to “cleanse” his country of? Please give citations. More nonsense and hysteria? And these days the US might not “cleanse” internally anymore, genocides and massacres of indigenous and black people are thankfully a thing of the past, but the killing goes on overseas.

            The people who foster hatred here are people from your camp. That’s the impression an independent reader must get from reading through the numerous posts in this thread.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Ahh the silence, bliss… :) Tip for anyone: if you need a bit of silence, simply ask the stirred up Anti-Putin crowd for citations for his alleged evilness and crimes. Usually a long silence can be expected after that. Works all the time. Gives one room to focus on better, less irrational issues and debates.

          • That silence, FF, is easily explained by the fact that the realization of how shockingly naive you are makes many of us literally speechless.

        • Branden Born says:

          oooh, democracy is so hard! I have to, like, pay attention to stuff.

    • Tim Walton says:

      Sorry but is NOT impertinent to ask netrebko for her opinion.

      If an artist pubically supports a cretin like Putin, either because she agrees with him or she just does it to help her career – there are no other reasons I can think of why she spoke up for Putin – then she, or any other artist for that matter, surrenders ALL rights to privacy by speaking out in public.

      If she doesn’t like being questioned about this then, tough. She should have kept her mouth shut in the first place.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        And what exactly in your eyes makes Putin such a special cretin, compared to all the other cretins we in our western “democracies” enjoy as leading politicians, that in his case a person MUST take a stance or otherwise be morally compromised?

        Do you have any idea how she ended up on that list of Putin supporters? No you don’t…

        I’m not a fan of Putin’s policies in particular, but this thread is so full of hatred and nonsense toward Russia, that I feel, someone must defend a last position of reason before everything falls victim to the relentless propaganda and brain washing “evil Russia” for decades.

      • YES exactly! She made the decision to become more than an artist, an artist and politician. She can deal with the consequences.

  9. Erm, Tchaikovsky did certainly NOT ”suffer profoundly due to anti-homosexual prejudices”. One of the reasons for this, was that many members of the high society were gays (even some prominent members of the aristocracy). Some even suggest that a gay subculture was flourishing at the time, especially in St Petersburg. It’s enough to actually READ Tchaikovsky’s letters in order to understand that he was able to engage in sexual relationships with other men whenever and wherever he wanted. Is there any concrete instance where Tchaikovsky was persecuted because of the ”widespread ignorance about gay human beings”? Frankly, I doubt it.

    I’m afraid that the rest this article suffers from a similar lack of factual basis. Last time I checked (I go to Russia quite often), no one forbids gay men and women to live together, work, vote or out themselves in their social circle. True, gay prejudices are unfortunately very strong in Russia (as it is in Georgia, Ukraine, Poland etc) and this law won’t certainly help matters (personally, I’m opposed to it). But suggesting that this law means that ”a gay teen’s parents may not publicly support their own child in his or her sexual orientation without risking arrest, fines and prison” is absurd. There is nothing in this law which would even hint at it.

    As for your mention of ”reactionary forces which continue to demonize gays, in scientific communities”, I’m afraid that it looks more like a clumsy attempt to discredit all the scientific studies whose results don’t support your agenda. So much for ”prejudices” then. By the way, talking about prejudices, I would be very grateful to know if you have any CONCRETE instance of ”freedom of speech and assembly” being ”tramped” by the ”Putin regime”. I wonder as well, if ”regime” is an appropriate word for a president who was after all, democratically elected by a strong majority…

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      Ilesia, it’s a concerted campaign against Russia and Putin. It’s the US geopolitical agenda. Russia is to be isolated, isolated from Europe, isolated from Asia, in order for the US to remain the only unchallenged super power. A Russia more unified with a more confident Europe is a threat to the US global hegemony. And Putin is in the way of easy access to Russia’s resources for the global corporations.

      Wait to see more of this evil campaign play out in the times before the Olympic games in Russia.

      Nobody is claiming that Russia under Putin is without faults and problems. But the patronizing and self-righteous attitude by the western propagandists is not helping to make the world and Russia a better place.

      • Thank you. That puts the gay rights “wedge issue” in perspective.

        • Scott Rose says:

          I have a solid record of working towards LGBT equality in the United States. The notion that I am speaking up for my Russian LGBT brothers and sisters for any reason other than a concern for their human rights is preposterous.

          • I don’t doubt your sincerity in the slightest but in order to ”speak up for your Russian LGBT brothers and sisters”, you don’t need to twist facts. Or is some factual and concrete basis for an argumentation too much to ask?

      • Yes, Fabio this is exactly what is happening. What is interesting is that this hate campaign against Russia is waged since the 1600s at least….

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          True, but then it were the previous Empires. The US has stepped on the geopolitical stage in the 20th century. What Western Europe has to ask itself is for how much longer it wants to dance to Washington’s tune. Europe has to take more responsibility and be more protective of it’s own interests, together with Russia, not without it.

      • Christy says:

        Putin and the leaders before him have so perpetuated the myth of Russian victimization by other countries that it is now used as an excuse to “cleanse” the country of all that would undermine its “unity.” Because.. … the country must be unified in order to fight its numerous enemies which surround it on all sides.

        We face this issue here. In order to fight Al Queda, we have the Patriot Act, which took many of our civil liberties. In the name of fighting an enemy. Some of this is necessary. Other is questionable. Luckily, those who would take even more of our rights are balanced somewhat by our society’s open debate. That does not exist in Russia, where all people hear on the well-controlled news is that their country is under attack and these “radicals” and “bandits” are helping the enemy by destroying unity and “stability.”

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Have you watched US mainstream media lately? Because what you describe for Russia sounds like what is happening in the US media actually.
          the whole terrorism threat boogie man is laughable, if it hadn’t such huge impact on the destruction of civil and freedom rights. It’s a straw man, designed (sic!) to slowly but steadily head toward a fascist or plutocratic society, controlled by the economic and money elite.

          Much more people die – pre or post 9/11 – from lightning than from terrorism. You do the math…

        • Gurnemanz says:

          20 million dead in WWII say that this “myth of victimization” is all to real.

          • I visited Russia at one time and wondered if the entire government (and a good portion of its people) were not suffering from Post-Soviet PTSD which led to unbelievable conspiracy theories and irrational thought that was so common as to be seen as normal. Reading this thread, I suspect it’s getting worse.

  10. Marguerite Foxon says:

    Why must she state her position???? To suggest that there are too options in terms of ones attitude: respect or contempt is typical (American) rhetoric of framing everything in dichotomies. Life isnt that neat. Yes, a lot of people would like her to state her position, but if she wishes to say nothing she is perfectly entitled to. And knowing Netrebko, my guess is she will refuse the bait.

  11. Linda Giovanna Zambanini says:

    Well said, Scott!

  12. Matthew Denerov says:

    It strikes me as harsh putting this lovely lady on the spot like that. Not that Netrebko would waste her time answering. Will Mr. Rose demand the same of Gergiev next time he comes around. I have read VG and Putin are pals. I am guessing Rose might not have the cajones for that, at least in person.

    • Scott Rose says:

      Maestro Gergiev has on occasion stayed in my same building when in New York. And I am not a shy person.

    • At least Gergiev is deeply rooted in Russia, given his job at the Mariyinsky (and apparently ownership interests in some businesses that make him even more money than conducting), and has something to lose if he takes on Putin. Anna Netrebko has an Austrian passport and probably spends very little time in Russia these days. Still her homeland, but she can walk away.

      I think what bothers a lot of people (including me) is that someone might enjoy all the freedom and comforts of the west while still cozying up to a dictator back at home.

  13. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t blame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf for Hitler, and I don’t blame Anna Netrebko for Putin. Anna has always been clear that what she likes about Putin is that he’s sexy. Why don’t we just leave it at that.

    • Oh, yeah, beating up gay people, preventing them from equal rights is really sexy.

      • How about killing political opponents or whistleblowers? Where was everyone while Grozny was carpet bombed in 1999-2000? And how about the aggression in South Ossetia in 2008?

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          South Ossetia 2008 was an aggression by Georgia as a proxy for the US neocons and Israel’s interests. It’s not difficult to know about this. Tchechenia was full of Al-Qaeda fighters from the Islamic world. The above mentioned time also was under Jelzin, not Putin. One must shake his head in disbelief nonstop, how much double standard exists in the minds of badly informed western people.

        • I must be dense, but I don’t see any connection with Gaza and Israel here. And whether ”Fabrici” is a western name or not is completely irrelevant as well (unless you are suggesting that those who are not brainwashed by anti-Russian propaganda must all be non-westerners, which frankly, would be quite odd).

          BTW, I would be grateful to know which political opponents or whistleblowers Putin has ”killed”. And I would like to have concrete names if you don’t mind (in fact, I know that you won’t be able to name any but it’s always useful to ask).

          And before I forget, since ‘Grozny’s carpet bombing” seem to preoccupy you so much, let me tell you that the people from the Caucasus are definitively NOT tolerant towards LGBT rights. Indeed, the Russian and the Orthodox Church stance on the matter seem almost progressive by comparison…..

          • Easy. There are more, but let us begin with Alexander Litvinenko.

          • @ilesia, hi there. I didn’t bring up Israel, but Fabrici. He wrote: “South Ossetia 2008 was an aggression by Georgia as a proxy for the US neocons and Israel’s interests… Tchechenia was full of Al-Qaeda fighters from the Islamic world..One must shake his head in disbelief nonstop, how much double standard exists in the minds of badly informed western people.”
            The backhanded justification for bombing Chechnya because it has terrorists, could also be applied to other places, like Gaza. I did not make a value judgement here, only pointed out possible similarities. Fabrici seems to me Italian, as Western as one can get.
            As for the musical chairs between Prime Minister and President in Russia, “The Chechen conflict entered a new phase on 1 October 1999, when Russia’s new Prime Minister Vladimir Putin declared the authority of Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov and his parliament illegitimate”. (Wikipedia) Not too much later “Russian President Vladimir Putin established direct rule of Chechnya in May 2000.” And there was the aftershock of the 2nd Chechen War.
            Also no matter who is stalking them, government or no, journalists do not have a nice time in Russia these days. “The dangers to journalists in Russia have been well known since the early 1990s but concern at the number of unsolved killings soared after Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in Moscow on 7 October 2006. While international monitors spoke of several dozen deaths, some sources within Russia talked of over two hundred fatalities.” (Wikipedia) ] Whatever the case, it’s a hostile environment for truth tellers.
            Someone pointed out that the message I was trying to project, and it is difficult to do it as a short infomercial, there are PLENTY of more important problems not only in Russia than sexual orientation issues. I am convinced that Obama has been using high profile news items like the Zimmerman case and also promoting his own sexual biases to distract attention from the massive US debt and unemployment.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            cabbagejuice. No carpet bombing against civilian targets is legitimate ever. Let me make that clear.
            But Chechnya is a very interesting case, of how the west has been misinformed by the mainstream media in a concerted propaganda effort to harm Russia’s reputation. it requires quite a bit of studies aside of factual information aside from the mainstream media menues for the gullible public.
            Fact is that without support from Islamists – most of the “freedom fighters” in Chechnya were the usual Islamist mercenaries from Arab countries – there would have been no wars in Chechnya, and one could make educated guesses who are the traditional allies of Saudi-Arabian foundations and Pakistan’s ISI which financed the Islamist guerilla… the CIA, exactly, … If you know the geostrategy of the US, then it all makes sense. Read Brzeziniski’s “Grand Chessboard” and you will understand, what is going on.

      • She’s not getting her opinions from reading newspapers. She acquires them while standing next to him.

  14. Phillip Parker says:

    For peets sake!. Now we select our singers based on their politics. How about their talent. If she supports Putin, I’m sad for her; however, it is her right. What’s next? A declaration from singers as to whether they are conservatiave or liberal? Netrebko owes us only one thing and that is the best performance she can give each time she is on stage. I suggest that you are trying to accomplish one more polarization in our already overly polarized and fragmented society.

  15. I am of two minds. I suppose she need not disclose her views, but her propping up of Putin has made me respect her less as a human being.

    She seems such a shallow woman, but I doubt she is. With other top divas who are serious, well-spoken and exhibit some sense of responsibility to the rest of the world, she pales in comparison. I suppose it’s a mask to protect herself, but perhaps not.

    Her performances lately have been splendid, regardless.

    • Marguerite Foxon says:

      Netrebko and her husband do a lot of work for Russian orphans through their foundation. She is hardly a “shallow” woman.

      • I said, she “seems such a shallow woman, but I doubt she is.” Please read carefully before condemning my comments.

        I stand by them. I have rarely seen an interview of significant depth with her, although given her work, she must have clear opinions. I am aware she does much for charities, but I am not alone in viewing her as somewhat flighty. I don’t know if she is. As I said, it may be a mask. If so, it is time for her to take it off.

    • So, Netrebko is a ”shallow woman” because she supported Putin? I guess that by this logic 60% of Russians have to be shallow as well (yes I know, it’s a pity that ”serious well spoken” western people don’t elect the russian president instead of these silly russkie, but the world is not perfect :-)) )

      And who are these marvelous ”serious and well spoken top divas” if I may ask?

  16. Mike Schachter says:

    Putin’s attitudes to gays are obnoxious, though no do doubt popular. But the view of Netrebko on this or any other subject is no business of ours or Mr Ross’. He has no right to say she or anyone else “must” do anything. Like so many so-called liberals he is probably pining for the days of the gulags, when people had to think “correctly”.

    • Ms Netrebko has taken a political position by endorsing Putin before the last ‘election’. It is appropriate for her to be asked whether she supports his repressive policies.

      • John Hames says:

        I feel that’s a bit blithe, Norman! One would need to know exactly what the “endorsement” consisted of, for one thing. Jimmy Savile “endorsed” Margaret Thatcher, but I doubt if anyone would have thought it was worthwhile asking him any searching questions about it. By all means ask Ms Netrebko, in a serious conversation, if she has any views on the matter, but in this case Rose is like one of the hacks who embarrassingly shout questions at politicians in the street. It’s a “Look at me” piece.

        • Gerhard says:

          IMHO John Hames is spot on. I’m not supporting any russian anti-gay law or action, and I’m sympathetic with the well justified demand for equality and full human rights regardless of sexual orientation, and this not only in Russia. Yet Mr. Scott’s attempt to bully Ms. Netrebko into doing his bidding is completely absurd and disgusting.

      • Many Russians think his positions promote stability and safety within a dangerous kleptocratic state. They aren’t looking to become another UK or USA in character. They remember the last time leftists took control of things.

        • Yes, Andrei and this is in essence, where the problem lies.
          I wonder why some western ”democracies” are so keen to forget that Putin was indeed LEGITIMATELY elected with an important majority by its own people. And I still don’t see anyone giving a clear instance of the supposedly ”repressive” Putin’s policies.

    • “Putin’s attitudes to gays are obnoxious, though no do doubt popular.”

      Has Putin actually personally said anything non-scripted about the new anti-gay laws? His personal attitudes about anything seem to be relatively inscrutable, but the reactionary policy certainly fits his macho image and scores him some points.

  17. Eh? In what possible scenario is Anna expected to tell us her views on anything? She isn’t an overtly political animal, she’s a singer. She doesn’t use her singing to promote one political view or another, as far as I know, so why now try to conflate the two?
    We seem to talk often enough on this blog about a need to separate music from politics, so why attempt to join the two here? Anna’s view on anything political may colour our taste for her as a person, but they don’t have anything to do with her singing. Why try and make it so?

    • “She doesn’t use her singing to promote one political view or another….”

      In fact, she does. She endorsed Putin. She is very fair game.

      • John Hames says:

        Fair game, exactly. A target to be shot at. Very progressive. . .

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        And Yo-Yo-Ma and Itzhak Perlman endorsed Obama. Hypocrisy much?
        Reminder: Obama’s Presidency has overseen the unlawful killing of many many people all over the world, something that can’t be said about Putin.

        • I guess you haven’t heard anything about Putin supplying arms to Syria’s Assad and the slaughter of some 100,000 anti-Assad Syrians, including children, not all of whom were terrorists. Or about how Russia (i.e. Putin) and China have continued to block measures against other terrorist regimes. How sad to have such limited access to the news!

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Oh my. And the USA and Israel have started the war in Syria by prepping up Al-Qaeda and delivering them weapons illegally – now they call them “freedom fighters” again. Your argument shoots in both of your feet. Assad is not a terrorist regime by any reasonable standard. Unless you call your allies Saudi-Arabia or Qatar also terrorist regimes. My my, the brain washing our friends in the US have undergone, it’s a bit hopeless, lost country that is.

          • The only person who has ”limited access to the news” here is you. You seem to be completely unaware that your white and fluffy Syrian liberation army is composed for the most part, by bloodthirsty and delirious religious extremists (often imported from the outside) who have somehow managed to turn the local Syrian population against them. Of course, these decent and honest people have the slightly annoying tendency to film their exploits on videos (cannibalism is only a small portion of the niceties that could be found here). This doesn’t prevent western countries to both support and arm them with the substantial help of Saudi Arabia and Quatar (which, it must be noted, are also highly prominent luminaries for human rights in general and LGBT rights in particular :-)). I don’t understand how you managed to miss all this. Maybe you have a too ”open access to the news” who knows?

            According to you, all the victims of the Syrian war were killed by the Assad regime (”100’000 anti-Assad Syrians”). This can only mean two things: either the Syrian liberation army is woefully incompetent or you have some difficulties in logical thinking. I hope that I don’t offend you if I suggest that the second hypothesis is the more likely.

  18. Gurnemanz says:

    Must Anna Netrebko also renounce her parents and other relatives that support Putin and disapprove of homosexuality as “burgeois reactionaries”, “kulaks” and “enemies of the gay people”? This article is absolutely appalling! This Rose character that wrote this is directly channeling Stalin, Zhdanov and Beria, yet he accuses Putin of repressive politics! You could not make this stuff up!

  19. I am reminded of Gabriela Montoro who campaigned for Capriles yet in interviews always claims an apolitical interest in the victims of Chavism and doesn’t feel responsible to defend Capriles’ involvement in the coup d’etat or his questionable ties to the CIA. Artists should stop endorsing candidates and start endorsing causes!

  20. Fabio Fabrici says:

    I’m looking at this thread with disbelief. What is this, thought police? The new global Gestapo of Political Correctness? You are beginning to issue yellow stars to stick on their chests? Everything is right in our own countries?

    Have we issued requests to Yo-Yo-Ma and Itzhak Perlman (and many others) too for supporting a de-facto fascistic President (Obama) who presides over the unlawful imprisonment of foreigners (Guantanamo), torture in secret CIA prisons all over the world, unlawful killing of foreigners by coward drones all over the world, spying on friend and foe in never before seen Orwellian dimensions, etc. etc.

    Leave Anna Netrebko alone, you self righteous pompous a**es, who grew up in freedom by pure luck, not because you fought for it.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      They told me if I voted for Mitt Romney European progressives would be calling the president a fascist… and they were right!

      In any case, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. And I was also told by the bien pensants during the last election that criticism of him was motivated solely by racism. So the policies you decry have been endorsed by the Norwegian Nobel Committee and to suggest otherwise is an example of white privilege.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        The Norwegian Committee made a big mistake. The idea was good. Putting the weight of moral leadership on him, before he got his hands dirty. It didn’t work though. US constitutions and Nobel prices are after all just pieces of paper.

      • You are hilarious, Greg. I thought you were being sarcastic until I read the whole thing. Obama got a Nobel prize just for being black after doing nothing since he had been in office less than a year. Arafat got a Nobel prize for signing a document he didn’t even attempt to honor. The Nobel Committee is a farce.

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      Fabio Fabrici, having previously inveighed against cartoonish anti-Russism, indulges himself in cartoonish anti-Americanism bearing the butyric whiff of a 50-year old copy of Pravda. I wish the Guantanamo inmates were elsewhere, but considering that American soldiers have been brainwashed by the North Koreans, tortured by the North Vietnamese and beheaded by the Taliban without a murmur of complaint by the Fabio Fabricis of the world, I’m not wasting a lot of sympathy on these poor, put-upon terrorists.

      Nor do I think that Fabio Fabrici cares much about them either; they’re just a useful club for beating the US with. I wouldn’t mind releasing them into the custody of Fabio Fabrici so long as he’s responsible for what happens afterwards. But the nice thing about being an anti-American progressive is that you never ever take any responsibility for anything.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        What “responsibility” for what did the USA take in Vietnam exactly? Or in Iraq? Or in any of the other ill guided, war industry driven, thousands of innocent foreigners killing, senseless wars?
        Greg, you are using the term “American soldier” as if that was some kind of holy entity, while in fact the term describes in today’s realities not much more than mercenaries doing the dirty job for entities, that have taken possession of the USA as parasites.

  21. Jules, IMHO celebrities should certainly take part in campaigns for human rights and whatever else makes the world a better place. It is well known that celebrities have a lot of influence, simply be being famous, and it is a capability that can be used to the good – or dangerously. Undeniably Netrebko’s first priority is singing, but her gift – or any other celebrity’s – should not entitle them to live desert-island lives. Good on her for making this important point! May many others join her.

    • Gurnemanz says:

      What “makes the world a better place” is entirely a matter of one’s point of view.

  22. We have been enjoying great artists from Russia and the Soviet Union for decades. Their politics or opinions have never as far as far as I know been an issue. From time to time the cultural exchanges were halted but as individuals they were never harassed. Some, like Ashkenazi or Nureyev, voted with their feet. lets hope we can continue to enjoy Anna Netrebko’s singing and she will not be put off by this ridiculous argument or forced into responding.

    • Scott Rose says:

      Here is an excerpt, with the full article from the Gaurdian at the link below:

      “Neo-Nazi thugs and an orthodox priest attacked the activists when they were freed several hours after their arrest, witnesses said. “This is terrible but I am not scared,” a Russian named Alexey said, blood streaming from his face. “This is a pretty scary place, a pretty scary country if you are gay. But we won’t give up until they allow us our rights.”

      • Neo-Nazi thugs beat up foreigners and even worse in other countries like Germany, nothing new. Anti-Semitism is still alive and kicking. Christians are persecuted and harassed almost all over the world.
        Rights to what? Redefine marriage? To parade down the street flaunting immorality?

      • Gurnemanz says:

        You misspelled the paper’s name. Everyone knows that it is actually “Gruniad”. Joking aside, this article is 6 years old. But if you are going to add that “not a lot has changed”, you are right. Politicians from the West are still as arrogant and self-righteous as they were back then.

        • Yes, and for a good measure Mr. Scott Rose should also mention the recent beating up of an US anti gay activist by two gay men (but I suppose that in his interpretation, he had it coming so it even doesn’t deserve a notion).
          Excavating a 6 year old article from a questionable source in order to prove that Russia is a ”dangerous place for gays” is quite odd to say the least.

  23. This is a complex issue. If you’re a gay man and pressed by your history of oppression and the self righteous boisterous invective all around you spewing from politicians and so-called religious leaders; if you feel that artists who flourish because of many gay people who have written music, directed productions, supported the field and well, in all, made the art world a richer and better place, then you may require, for your own comfort, that the artists you follow, support and admire, be admirable on the stage of human rights and civilized thought. Now Putin is showing us, yet again, that Russia maintains aspects that are barbarian, something that Peter the Great tried to change starting in the early 18th century.
    I feel comfortable not listening to Netrebko until she makes some statement. She could, at this point, simply express concern and disappointment in Putin’s position and efforts. It is too much to demand of anyone that they give up their homeland…before “cleansing” becomes part of that countries policy. It was NOT too much to ask that of Strauss, and the other artists who rubber stamped with silence Hitler’s nightmares. But dissent helps.
    I await that dissent from a fine artist to know whether she is a fine human being.

    • But of course, Putin is like Hitler, it’s self evident isn’t it?
      I see that the old cliché of ”Barbarian Russia” is still alive and kicking. I don’t dare to give your advices, but I suggest that you familiarize yourself with Russian history in general and with the reign of Peter the Great in particular (though the ridiculous adjective of ”barbarian”, suggest that you’re not that familiar with the history of western countries either). Perhaps, you may understand some things a lot better.
      BTW, I don’t see any ”cleansing” of gay people in Russia. Or is it wishful thinking?

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      Andrew Appel says:
      July 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      “I await that dissent from a fine artist to know whether she is a fine human being.”

      Well said, Mr Appel! Bravo!! We need more courageous artists like you who are willing to stand up and speak out about the issues which are important today. Fortunately for you, and unlike most of us here, as an active performing artist you have the opportunity to put your money (or your action) where your mouth is. I see on your website that like Netrebko, you will be appearing in NYC soon, at Avery Fisher Hall, no less. Please choose a topic that is important to you and that is highly contentious in your society at this point. Gay rights, abortion, drone strikes, excessive NSA data gathering – whatever you feel really needs to be addressed, no matter if people want to hear from you about it or not. But it should be something highly controversial and something that is bound to get you into trouble. Make a speech before your concert and post the video online. Do not rubber stamp today’s important but unwelcome issues. Then we will know whether you are a fine human being.

  24. Fabio Fabrici says:

    For the time being, how about we ask our American top musicians, to take a firm stand on the issue, why about 13 states – Texas, Utah, South Carolina and others – have still their “Sodomy laws” in place, despite a Federal Supreme court ruling that declared them unconstitutional?
    What do you think Scott Rose? Are you game? Everybody cleans up his own house first?

    • Scott Rose says:

      It has often happened in the U.S. that when a law federally is struck down as unconstitutional, individual states remain with the unconstitutional laws on their books, but unenforceable. That has more to do with lawmakers needing to move forward with matters of importance to their constituents, instead of taking up time officially to remove unenforceable laws from the record. So, the specific distinction here, is between Russia having recently placed harsh anti-gay laws into effect, and a few U.S. states having unenforceable laws not yet removed from their state codebooks. Furthermore, I am engaged in the movement towards LGBT equality in the United States.

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        Mr. Rose. Your action is disgusting. You are putting a metaphorical yellow star on Netrebko’s chest, if she doesn’t renounce her affiliation with her home country. That’s as low as mankind can get in hate speech and bullying tactics. You are privileged to have been born into a relatively free country. Netrebko had no such luck. You are in no position to challenge her to publicize her personal views in any way.
        You will not achieve anything positive out of your initiative, but spread a lot of hatred. Shame on you.

        • Scott Rose says:

          Where did I ever ask for Madame Netrebko to ‘renounce her affiliation with her home country”? The yellow Star of David used by the Nazis to stigmatize all Jews obviously has nothing to do with my request for Madame Netrebko to state whether she support LGBTers’ human rights. I was born in a country that considers my minority to be a second-class citizen and I am engaged in moving it forward.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          Well said, Fabio. It’s tiringly typical of so many who proclaim ‘If you’re not with us you are a nauseating fascist who deserves to be universally shunned’. The politically correct pensée unique at its finest and most repulsive.

        • Curious that you talk about yellow stars. You do realize that the yellow stars had to be worn by the Jews that Hitler intended to slaughter wholesale, don’t you? I don’t think that Netrebko is facing such a fate now nor would she if she criticized Putin’s anti-gay decree. I doubt she was forced to support Putin in the last election, so it would be nice if she were to distance herself from him at this time. Since I am not a big opera lover, I would not particularly miss Miss N.
          I have a hard time listening to any of the pianists or other musicians who supported Hitler or were content to see their Jewish fellow musicians thrown into concentration camps and either shot or gassed. At least in their case, vocal opposition to Hitler was demonstrably a deadly undertaking. Criticizing Putin is not.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            You are right in your final statement. Which is why I used the term “metaphorically”. It is equivalent on all levels in this issue, since gay people in Russia also do not face deadly threats, despite the problematic “anti-gay-propaganda-law”.
            What Scott Rose is trying to do here is to stigmatize a public figure and taking her hostage morally. She is already doing more good for the people in Russia through her foundation than Mr. Rose can ever dream about.

    • PK Miller says:

      I rather agree with Fabio Fabrici–we in the states need to get our OWN house in order. P:rominent artists of all stripes MUST stand up and be counted. I like the idea of Stevie Wonder et al refusing to perform in Florida as long as “Stand Your Ground” is in force. None of us is free until all of us are free and forgive me if I do not recall who said that!

      I appreciate that some people go along to get along–millions of people did that during WW II and the Nazis. But “If we do not all hang together we shall most assuredly hang separately! Benjamin Franklin

  25. Thinking Artist says:

    I am sorry, but it is naïve to think that an artist is unpolitical, or, to be more concise, that an artist’s work can be completely separated by his or her political actions and beliefs.
    In the case of Anna Netrebko this is even more acute, since she often left the “ivory tower” of her art, and has openly supported Putin and defended the imprisonment of members of the punk band Pussy Riot (!) in an interview.
    She has therefore explicitely made herself a public political activist, using her popularity as an artist to launch an unambiguous political message.
    I am Austrian and live in Vienna, the very city Netrebko has chosen as her home base. She has chosen to live in a (more or less) democratic environment (and has been awarded the Austrian citizenship without even speaking the language…), while at the same time to defending and supporting the non-democratic (or, as some would say: fascist) developments in her native country. Whether the reasons are cynism, pressure (or maybe even a regular paycheck) by the Russian government, or sheer stupidity, I cannot tell, of course.

    But, anyway, an artist, and especially an artist who publicly speak about politics, can and must be scutinized. Just think for how long Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (whose artistic competence was rarely questioned at the time) wasn’t allowed to perform at the Met because of her unclear position in the Nazi Reich, and I think this restriction was justified. I won’t bore you with many other examples that come to my mind.

    Of course, there are at least 2 counter-arguments:
    1) “Wagner was antisemtic, and we still play his operas.” This is true, of course, as it is for many other authors. But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be at least a discussion about it. Wagner is dead, and we cannot ask him what he meant.
    Anna Netrebko is well and alive, and we can and should ask her to explain herself.
    2) “Artists coming from a non-democratic country cannot be questioned about their political position because they cannot tell the truth due to political backlash back home.” This isn’t true for Anna Netrebko who lives in the EU, and quite actively (and without being asked) supports the Russian régime.

    So: ask her, and persist if she doesn’t reply. She should know that there can always be a boycot, an article in a large newspaper, or demonstration by activists.

    Regardless of whether you are gay or not: swallowing unacceptable political propaganda, just because “she is so glamourous, and she sings so beautifully” is either ignorance or self-hatred.

    • Gurnemanz says:

      “So: ask her, and persist if she doesn’t reply. She should know that there can always be a boycot, an article in a large newspaper, or demonstration by activists.”

      Aaaw, geez, what a way to endear yourself to a person, subject him/her to a real proper shakedown. “Nice little opera singing career you have there, Mrs.Netrebko. It would be a shame if something was to happen to it.” I am wondering Mr. Thinking Artist, who taught you interpersonal relations? Al Capone? Lucky Luciano? Mayer Lansky?

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        The self-righteousness and arrogance of those born by pure luck into relatively free western societies is disgusting.

      • Political correctness is the thought police. What if Netrebko has traditional values? Setting her up as an example would be intimidating to anyone who would dare speak up as to what they believe in.

        • Gurnemanz says:

          “What if Netrebko has traditional values? Setting her up as an example would be intimidating to anyone who would dare speak up as to what they believe in.”

          You hit the jackpot, cabbagejuice! Because that is what it’s all about! Suppose for the sake of argument that Netrebko does deign these people with a reply which will go along the line of “I do not support the recent anti-gay laws but I believe that hoosexuality is un-natural”. What will happen? The campaign against her will reach fever pitch, with demands that she disavows her views, and goes on an “apology tour” which will be for all effects and purposes a spectacle of self-abasement. And all that under threats of demonstrations, boycotts, legal action and anything that will make her life a constant harassement. Just look at the latest comment by this fellow Gustav, tells you all you need to know about these so called “rights activists”…

          It’s not about “rights”, it never was.

          • John Hames says:

            For the record, although I may or may not (I don’t know) agree with everything Gurnemanz and cabbagejuice say, this post seems to me to get closest to the heart of the matter. Of course decent people in western societies are opposed to medieval discrimination against blameless minorities, but should also oppose fascistic bullying of anyone who may take a different view in the hopes of gaining a scalp and a lot of publicity. And that’s what Rose and his apologists are advocating here.

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            Cabbagejuice (sigh!), Gurnemanz and John Hames have hit the nail on the head. The right to entertain one’s own thoughts privately will be removed. By force, if necessary. Uttterly loathsome self-appointed occupation of the so-called moral high ground. Scott Rose’s action is attention-seeking at its worst.

      • Thinking Artist says:

        I usually don’t reply to unobjective and/or abusive comments, but since your train of thought has some substance, here is my answer:

        I don’t see any reason why anyone should try “endearing themselves” to Anna Netrebko.
        She might be a nice person, and she certainly is a good singer. But: the private Anna Netrebko is irrelevant to us. She has chosen a public profession, and she certainly has built a very present public persona for herself. (Whether this persona has been created by herself or by agents / PR people is irrelevant here: she gives her name for it.)
        And not only that: she obtrusively and regularly (and without being asked) makes political propaganda.
        Conclusion: this is NOT a private matter. Any political activist (and she sure is a very efficient one) must be prepared to have his/her statements and beliefs scrutinized, reflected, and discussed.

        And he/she must also be prepared that his/her followers are informed about the contents and the substance of the political propaganda he/she is spreading.
        Publicly discussing these things has nothing to do with bullying or blackmail, since, I repeat it, it is NOT anymore a private matter.

        How the thus informed public (notably gay opera fans) then use the provided information, is everybody’s personal decision. You might choose to ignore it, or you might not be inclined to listen to her performances anymore. You might even want to challenge her.
        Anyway: an artist who makes aggressive political propaganda must stand by his/her opinions, and live with the consequences.

        Full stop. That’s all there is to it.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Question one: Where has AN made “aggressive political propaganda”? I have no idea what gave you that impression.

          Question two: Isn’t it double standard to put pressure on AN, but not putting pressure on all US artists to take stand against the repulsive changes in US policies resulting in human rights violations?
          (Guantanamo, unlawful killings by drones, torture, loss of “habeas corpus”, mega-surveillance on all people on this planet, etc. etc.)

        • ”And not only that: she obtrusively and regularly (and without being asked) makes political propaganda…Anyway: an artist who makes aggressive political propaganda must stand by his/her opinions, and live with the consequences.”

          How exactly? Did she cry ”I love Putin” before her concert performances? In what way is Netrebko a ”political activist”?

          I don’t know where your assumption about Netrebko’s supposed political activism comes from, but there is no basis for them. ”Full stop. That’s all there is to it”.

        • Gurnemanz says:

          Oh, no there isn’t! Not if I can help it!

          Just what does constitute a “political activist”? A person that from time to time expresses a political opinion? Then that’s about 90% of the population of any country you care to name! And the fact that a someone is a public persona is irrelevant! That public persona, whoever he or she might be, has unassailable rights which no one can infringe, one of which is freedom of expression. And not expressing oneself is in fact a form of expressing oneself.

          Anna Netrebko owes answers to nobody, save God, about her personal beliefs. Deal with it, get over it, pound sand if you have to!

      • Noputinhere says:

        Or Valdimir Putin, for that matter…

      • If it takes a possible boycott or a newspaper article to shame the divine Miss N., then she either is quite content with Putin’s anti-gay laws or is truly as dense as lead, Sometimes when you take a horse to water and it doesn’t drink, you need to hit it with a 2 by 4. I did not realize that Miss N. has Austrian citizenship (thank you, Thinking Artist), so she really does not have to worry about her personal safety. Public embarrassment, or the threat of it, has often caused a desirable change in behavior.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Your post is embarrassing for you. You compare her to a horse, suppose she might be “dense as lead”, and suggest threatening her is acceptable. Who do you think you are?

          • Gurnemanz says:

            Just another graduate from the Heinrich Himmler School of Free Thought. Lesson 1: If the subject won’t drink water(or is it perhaps Cool-Aid?), beat him senseless until he does.

          • Poor Fraizio! You cannot understand a figurative expression commonly used in the english language. Yet you seem to write so well in English … especially when you are excoriating Israel and Jews in general and praising the wonderful, benevolent, free-thinking Palestinians.
            You seem to overlook the fact that your divine Miss N. went out of her way to praise and support Putin. For that reason, she should also chide him on his anti-gay laws. LGBT people in Russia are endangered since those laws encourage physical attacks on them. In case you or the dense as lead (yes, I said it!) Miss N didn’t realize it, a substantial part of the opera world consists of gay people, including both the performers and the audience. Merely on that basis, she should either say something or say absolutely nothing at all, including never commenting on any political matter.
            My post is hardly embarrassing for me, except to the extent that it prods you to continue making bigoted, ant-American, anti-semitic posts. For that I am regretful.
            As to who I think I am, I’m a far more intelligent realist and I have every right to post my judgments than you, Gurnemanz, or some of your comrades-in-arms do.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            You can please show us
            1.) where AN “went out of her way to praise and support Putin”.
            2.) I have made a single anti-semitic post

            I don’t take false accusations like that lightly, and ask you to take that back. Because I never say anything anti-semitic and I take it as a grave insult.

            The tactics of “name calling” are well know though to be used for anyone – like me – who disagrees with your ilk. It’s just a silly and stupid game of yours.

        • Gurnemanz says:

          Well, since Mark can not open an outright re-education camp because such practice has been given a bad name, I suppose he has to settle with more up-to-date and insidious methods to have his subject express “desirable behavior”.

          Isn’t it lovely when you opponents prove every point you make against them?

          • You haven’t proven a single point you’ve or my other opponents have made. I’m sorry if you think you have. Apparently you, however, think that all people must agree with you. Perhaps you attended that Heinrich Himmler school of Free Thought.

            Boycotts and other expressions of disapproval are in order when a person, in this case the divine Miss N, has CHOSEN to express support for someone who is certainly tending quite strongly in the directional of dictatorship. If only some more of the teutonic artists had expressed their disapproval of Hitler, even if it meant leaving their homeland. (But since it was mainly Jews being slaughtered, perhaps you do would not agree with me.)

          • Theodore McGuiver says:

            I remember seeing a stand-up comedian years ago at Jongleurs in Battersea. No bile, no swearing, just intelligent humour. He got a couple of audience members up on stage to take part in his set. They started to try to act very clever yet quickly ended up making themselves look stupid. The comedian said to the audience: “Rule One: Never try to make your stage guests look ridiculous; they’ll do just fine on their own”.

    • Dear Thinking (?!) Artist,
      What exactly are the grossly ”undemocratic” and ”fascist” developments in Russia (and please don’t bring in the Pussy Riots if you don’t want to be laughed at).

      As for the tone and content of your message I agree with Gurnemanz: it’s disgusting on every level.

      PS: Why don’t you reflect on the reasons why this awful Netrebko (who had the nerve to come in Austria from this horrible Russia country) was granted citizenship by the Austrian authorities. Could have this something to do with erm, important taxes that she could give to the Austrian state?

  26. Why does she have to suddenly become a politician when she is a singer, just because she’s Russian? It’s very unfair to expect her to do such a thing if she doesn’t want to. Fine Joyce Di Donato is a different woman from a different country. Just be a bit kinder to the singers, and let them do what they do best – sing!

    • Because she chose to publicly endorse Putin. Other Russian artists did not. She could have chosen differently.

  27. Mathieu says:

    I would like to offer a synthesis of the various conflicting positions stated by commenters on this thread :

    1° Some are clearly thinking that being gay is wrong, and that Putin is right (Gurnemanz and sometimes cabbagejuice).

    2° Some are committed to Red Herrings : the fact that there is a strategic interest in marginlizing Putin in the geopolitical scene; or the fact that Obama is a bad guy too, since he didn’t close Guantanmo and targets civilians for drone killings, etc. etc. etc. etc. All those assertions are true, but none is relevant for the discussion, since none makes it less wrong to oppress gay people like Mr Putin Does. (Among those arguing for 2°, there is F. Fabrici and sometimes cabbagejuice, though the two have some minor disagreements: Fabrici thinks Putin should not be criticized, whereas cabbagejuice argues that he should be criticized for other things, such as Chechnya)

    3° Some do not state any opinion about Russian anti-gay laws, but think it is not right to ask Mrs Netrebko to take a stand (e.g. Anon)

    4° Some disagree with Russian anti-gay laws, but do not think that we should expect anything from Mrs Netrebko regarding this matter, since she’s an artist and not a politician (e.g. Mike Schachter, John Hames).

    5° Some agree with Mr Ross (e.g. L. Ariola, A. Appel).

    Now let me explain why I disagree with all 5 claims.

    I do not think that I should dignify 1° with a rejoinder. The point is not about political correctness; you may have anti-gay opinions, that’s your right, but endorsing oppressive policies is beyond my understanding.

    2° does not deserve an answer either since it eschews the question and makes irrelevant claims about unrelated subjects (though some are important and worrying).

    I disagree with 3° and 4° insofar as I think artists have a certain responsibility, even more if they directly endorse the government officials of their country. But, unlike 5°, I do not see why we should single out Mrs Netrebko, and not urge Russian artists who endorsed Mr Putin, to take an explicit stand on the matter. It does not mean that they should become dissidents, or get enrolled in an armed rebellion, or even criticize Putin’s government in general. They could just point out a very specific topic (gay rights) about which they disagree with the current policy. Just that. “Mr Putin, I still think you’re very sexy and I admire you etc., but I think persecuting gays and disparaging gay people is not right”.

    I do not think boycotting is right though, since they do not have any responsibility in the enactment of those monstruous laws.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      And your “synthesis” is?

    • Missing from the discussion, what exactly are the oppressive policies? I remember hearing something about “not permitted to indoctrinate youth”.

      • klingsor says:

        Which is itself an oppressive policy. Children are indoctrinated into heterosexuality, on a non-stop basis, from birth. If you don’t believe me, read a book, watch a TV show, see a movie, look at an ad. To silence any acknowledgement of alternatives is the worst kind of oppressive inequality.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          Really? “Indoctrinated into heterosexuality”? You really believe that? What next? Children are indoctrinated into the concept of gravity, depriving them of the ability to fly?
          Were you perceived in a test tube by the fusion of two sperm cells?

  28. Why single out Netrebko?
    There is an even higher profile married artist, similarly vocally supportive of Putin, who is said in fact to be gay…

  29. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Louisiana Police Sting Targets, Arrests Gay Men For Sex Using Unconstitutional Anti-Sodomy Law

    “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
    Matthew 7:5

    • Mathieu says:

      Although your point is quite irrelevant, maybe you should READ the article you kindly link to :
      “However, the Advocate also revealed that none of these cases had been prosecuted by District Attorney Hillar Moore III, whose office could find no evidence of any crime being committed by any of the arrested men”.

      Antisodomy laws still exist in the books in some states of the US, but they are unenforceable due to the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision. So, gay people in the US are not prosecuted for being gay. In Russia they are.

      Enough with red herrings, Mr Fabrici!! Address the question

      “Do not overindulge in informal fallacies, for the wrath of the Lord shall lay his wrath upon you thou” (Ps, 8:6)

      • Gurnemanz says:

        ” So, gay people in the US are not prosecuted for being gay. In Russia they are.”

        No they are not! Ilesia has proved this.

        • Mathieu says:

          Ok. You want an argument about technicalities, you’ve got it. Russia does not have anti-sodomy laws. Granted. But : recent laws provide that holding gay pride events, speaking in defense of gay rights, or equating gay and heterosexual relationships shall be be punished by a fine amounting up to 31000 euros.

          So let me rephrase.

          Gay people in the US are not prosecuted for being OPENLY gay. In Russia they are.

          BIG difference. BIG one!

      • Fabio Fabrici says:

        You should look up the meaning of a “red herring”.

        And as was pointed out before: In Russia nobody is prosecuted for being gay. The law was lifted in 1993. Unlike the sodomy laws in several US states which are still legally active, yet unenforceable due to the Supreme court.

        I address the question, which is: what is the real reason behind all these propagandistic activities against Russia and Putin, when there are so many pressing issues to choose from in this world, many of them much closer to home than the anti-gay-propaganda law in Russia?

        • A red herring is a device used in conversation to distract the attention from the matter discussed. Obama’s Guantanamo policy, though abhorrent, has no bearing on the present matter.

          As I stated below, Russia does not have anti-sodomy laws, but makes it punishable to be openly gay and/or to openly defend gay rights in Russia.

          • The key here is the word “openly”. Some things are best kept private, not thrown in to everybody’s faces. Is that so awful? Why don’t you go after UK artists who don’t denounce UK politicians who are proposing limiting pornography. That’s freedom of speech, right? That’s because they are drawing a moral line, something Putin seems to be doing and only regarding the open expression, not the practice.

          • Sigh. Should I respond to this ? A short comment, before I take some Prozac (because your statements really depress me).

            Homosexuality has nothing to do with pornography (except for gay porn of course ! but there is straight porn as well as far as I am aware). Nobody is asking for a right to have gay pornographic shows in front of children! Here, the point is that the Russian State is demeaning and disparaging a way of life, by treating it as if it was pornographic behavior, and not a valid way of life. And, well, you re doing the same. So I do not expect you to understand my point.

        • PS. I am a law and philosophy academic. So 1° I know quite well what a red herring is, thank you; 2° “legally active” means what ? That is very peculiar terminology. Anti-sodomy laws are still in the books in some states of the US, but they are unenforceable; so they are hardly “active” in any way. Let me give you an example : in 1800, a law was made prohibiting women from wearing trousers (unless they ask a special permission), and it was still on the books until recently, when it was deemed tacitly abrogated. It had not been applied for half a century. I do not think we ought to have picketed against this “still legally active” law!

  30. All of this reminds me too much of the trials and tribulations of Wilhelm Furtwangler following WW2. Scorn him for his naiveté, but the conductor honestly thought he could do more for his country through his art than running off to Switzerland or another neutral country. I believe that history has borne out that WF was in no way supportive of the National Socialists and in fact, made numerous strides to protect many of the Jewish musicians in (and eventually out) of his ensemble. The “Hitler Birthday Beethoven Ninth” (of which I have a recording) must be discounted for many reasons.

    Of course, WF had to pay the price for his support of his homeland, not the Party. One has to wonder how differently the music world might have evolved if he had been able to accept the offer of the directorship of the Chicago Symphony. Of course, that same orchestra chased Kubelik from their podium less than a decade later.

    Russia already has a sordid past with regards to politics and the arts. Should Shostakovich, Prokofiev, et al denounced the Soviets? In a “perfect world,” which unfortunately will never exist…

    • This is a truly wonderful post, but I think it is likely only relevant to this particular discussion if you are suggesting that Russian policies = Soviet policies. While disagreeing with the Soviets often led to imprisonment or worse, that is unlikely now in this case.

      Also, are you suggesting that Netrebko’s reasoning is similar to Shostakovich’s? She has already received Austrian citizenship.

  31. It is apalling to read some comments on this page that imply that the people who are trying to do something to combat the actions of a government who is repeating the nazi tactic of using a minority as scapegoat and smoke screen to hide their disastrous actions and incompetence, or plain lack of interest in something other than being in power, are the ones who are opressing someone, or using questionable ways to make their point. I understand the complete insensitivity of some people here as ridiculous feelings as simple egoism, since the question doesn’t interest them, or the simple mention of it makes them uncomfortable, to despicable attitudes, like homophobia.
    Take this a*hole that calls himself Gurnemanz, for example. He forgets that people who, without being asked to do so, endorse anything, take sides on an election, for example, can and must respond for any consequences that may come from what they CHOSE to associate themselves with. Every common person may have to do that now and then, let alone a public person. IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT ANNA NETREBKO WASN’T SHAKEN FROM HER PEDESTAL TO MANIFEST HER ENDORSEMENT OF PUTIN, BUT SINCE SHE DID THIS, WHY IS IT SO CRUEL AND INHUMANE TO MAKE THAT POOR SUFFERING ARTIST MANIFEST HER OPINION AGAIN, ON A PROBLEM THAT IS BEING CAUSED BY THE ONE SHE BACKED BEFORE? Interesting to think that someone is RESPONSIBLE enough to declare their support of Putin, whether for a sincere opinion or fear of some consequence, and not RESPONSIBLE for the choice they made after it starts showing their ugly effects. We should also remember that she is not to suffer too much if she gives her opinion against this ridiculous government Russia is in, since she even lives in another country and is known worldwide. So it’s not as if this woman is a damsel in distress or desperate threatened activist that should be defended by a current of international outrage. Quite the contraty, she is a rich celebrity who shook hands with an abominable idiot who is making life hell for innocent people. IF AN OPERA STAR, AND A GOOD ONE, SHOULD BE SO APOLITICAL, WHY WAS SHE SO POLITICAL BEFORE? ADULTS CAN SEE LIFE DIFFERENTLY FROM SOME CHILD’S GAME THAT YOU ABANDON WHENEVER YOU WANT. But the problem here is not the “violence” againt the artist, it’s the subject matter and the homophobia that some people’s posts here barely disguise.
    It is terribly disgusting to see the same fallacies being used everywhere when it comes to the fight for gay rights. First, even if an opinion is tolerated in an issue, or the right of having an opinion, it is not reasonable that you demand that this opinion remains unanswered, unquestioned, or that you don’t suffer any consequences for what you say. This is the difference of the world today from the world some years ago, today if you say some bullshit that you believe because you’re ignorant, lazy or just plain bad and irresponsible, the odds are that someone will answer you with outrage. A person can hold whatever idiotic opinion they have, but sometimes they won’t manifest it for fear of what it may cause. And the opinion against gay rights is gradually going to be relegated to the same category as racism or antisemitism. It’s not wise or even realistic to maintain such opinions, given the amount of evidence of science and in society against it. It is perhaps stubborn or malign, or religious or chauvinistic blindness, but never wise or even fair. Well, some people will always manifest those kinds of opinion, but they have to be prepared to take what comes to them as reactions, and not to claim they’re being “opressed” as cry-babies they like to act as when they’re caught.
    I also think how ridiculous it is for some people to always shout about the indecency that some gays or lesbians might do in front of other people, but they forget that it is heterosexual people who make it most, you can see that at any party, at any public place, people kissing and sometimes almost having sex in public, but the anger you manifest against it is never the same. It’s best to stop being hipocritical and remember all the perfectly decent gay people who just want to live and be happy, have their rights to inheritance and property, and to build a family if they want. There’s a reason you don’t see these people, it’s because they live perfectly well as contributing members of society.
    So to everyone that was so shaken by this edital, is it only the fact of demanding an answer from someone that should be responsible for what they endorse, say or do as a famous artist or is it homossexuality that bothers you so much?

    • ”It is apalling to read some comments on this page that imply that the people who are trying to do something to combat the actions of a government who is repeating the nazi tactic of using a minority as scapegoat and smoke screen to hide their disastrous actions and incompetence…”

      Forgive me, but I have stopped reading after this sorry. This LGBT law is ludicrous and would certainly have many harmful effects in the long run. BUT, I don’t see how ” a minority is used as a scapegoat” concretely in the present instance. Are gays in Russia forbidden to work? No. Can they have access to high education and highly qualified jobs? Yes. Can they have relationships? Yes. Do they have the right to vote?Yes.
      So concretely where is exactly the scapegoating here?
      And I may have reading comprehension problems, but I didn’t see any particular instance of Gurnemanz’s supposed homophobia.

      • Pursuant to those recent laws, if I write an op-ed defending gay rights, I am liable to being fined. Period. The fact that a minority is singled out for restriction of freedom of speech is scapegoating by my book. Of course there are various degrees in scapegoating; Russia is not persecuting gay people to the last degree. But it does not mean that those laws are unproblematic.

        Precision : I am not gay myself, but this obviously is clearly irrelevant.

        As for Gurnemanz’s homophobia, I refer you to his comments on a previous thread of this blog : An excerpt of his views on homosexuality:

        “Biological laws are relentless, they do not yield to liberal interpretations and defining-down. When a certain percentage of homosexual population is achieved in a species or a society the end result is it’s extinction. No amount of on-paper legislation, supreme court deliberations and other proceedings held so dear by the so-called enlightened clique will change that.(…)For a society that has had decades of population decline and low birth rates like Russia has to adopt a policy of facilitating practices that would make the latter decline further is suicidal, plain and simple. If suicidal tendencies are considered a mental disease in an individual, why are they being looked over, even celebrated when it comes to society at large?”

        • Gurnemanz says:

          Don’t complain to me, Mathieu. I am just the messenger. Unless you can point out to a recent scientific study which shows that homosexual relations can in fact lead to a conception.

          • How should I answer that ? Can I ? Do I have the strength ? Andrew’s remarks prompted me to take some Prozac, what should I do now ? Knock myself out with a frying pan ?

            More seriously.

            What do you mean by “homosexual relations ?” If by that you mean “being in love with someone else who happens to be of the same sex”, then you can clearly procreate while having “homosexual relations” (there are many ways, including strictly biological ones). If by “homosexual relations” you mean “homosexual sexual acts”, then 1° only you reduce gays to their sexuality; 2° you deem “homosexual sexual acts” (sodomy, oral sex…) sexual practices are much practised by heterosexual couples ! So if a guy is having those practices with a woman, it’s OK, since they *could* otherwise procreate; but not two gay guys or women. But this is absurd, since they still can procreate, though not through acts you deem “homosexual sexual acts”, which are none of the sorts, but non-procreative sexual acts.

            So, yes non-procreative sexual acts are not likely to lead to procreation ! I grant you that, since is as close to an analytic truth as it gets. But it has nothing to do with homosexuality as such.

          • klingsor says:

            Thank you, Gurnemanz. You’ve just cooked your own goose better than any refutation could possibly do.

    • Gurnemanz says:

      Thank you, Gustav, for proving with your hateful rant every single point I made in this discussion about the so-called “rights activists”. I could not have asked for a better QED.

  32. Galliana says:

    Ms. netrebko is an artist and not a politician, activist or spokesperson; most probably by choice. We should respect that. Should everyone with a public persona be expected to voice opinions on issues important to others?

    • @Galiana – What is the difference between a singer and an artist? Can someone be an artist while refusing to comment on society? Or is an artist someone who uses their vision to make a difference – to say something, either through song, or paint, or movement, or any other form? If not…. how do you define an artist as opposed to one who simply sings?

  33. Norman,

    I would be very interested in a more general thread discussing what an artist’s responsibility is in these sorts of situations. Is it alright for an artist to perform in Russia? Or other oppressive countries? Should they jump in to the debates of gay and lesbian rights or other minority rights, even if they have not made a political endorsement? What is the role of an artist in society? Etc.

  34. Imperative? Why? Says who? And if she doesn’t support gay rights, what then. Does she not have the right to her opinion? The public may be legitimately interested in it, but she is legitimately entitled to keep her thoughts to herself. If she wanted to tell you, she would.
    a few seconds ago · Like

  35. Thinking Artist says:

    Again, and for all the ones who think that 1) Anna Netrebko’s politcal opinions are her private affair, and 2) she lives in a non-Western country (i.e. Russia) and can’t be asked to speak up against her government:

    1) Anna Netrebko lives in VIENNA / AUSTRIA which is a democratic country within the European Union. She has been given the AUSTRIAN CITIZENSHIP without even speaking the language (and not with a status as a political refugee, as far as I know).

    2) Anna Netrebko is a POLITICAL ACTIVIST, supporting publicly and obtrusively Putin’s politics. She has e.g. publicly spoken in favor of the imprisonment of Pussy Riot.

    She who has chosen to live in a (realtively) free country, has (without any need or pressure) chosen to support Putin and the non-democratic political developments in her native country.
    It is only FAIR to demand information about her position on the new (!) anti-gay laws in Russia. She brought it upon herself by actively spreading unacceptable political propaganda.

    Her audience can then decide what to do with the information.

    • Gurnemanz says:

      Number 1) is the problem of the government of Austria, and why it bypassed the country’s laws(if it did). And your definition of a political activist is so broad it could encompass virtually anyone.

      • No. Artists who do not endorse political candidates or speak on politically divisive issues would not be included.

        To be very, very clear.

        Did you endorse a candidate in a presidential election when other artists did not?

        Did you defend the government on a divisive issue for which the country was criticized by human rights groups?

        If you say yes to either of these, you have made political statements and have placed yourself in the political sphere. If you say yes to both, you just may be seen by some as a political activist for the Russian government.

        If you did not do either of these things – which would include most Russian artists – you are not political.

        It is really quite simple.

        • Gurnemanz says:

          It is irrelevant whether she is political or not and to what extent. What is relevant is that her right to not express an opinion on any issue she chooses is absolute, unconditional and unassailable and can not and must not be infringed by a public campaign of villification designed to wrestle the information out of her or a threat thereof.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      We need citations of your alleged “political activism” by AN. Otherwise you will not be taken serious. I’m not aware of any “activism” by her, only a few answers in interviews she gave. the answers in interviews are usually a *reaction* to a question which is the *action*. Maybe you should look up the basic principle of *action* and *reaction* first before you try to have a debate about it.

      Or alternatively you could please give us examples, Where AN *actively*, whithout being asked first, has promoted her political and personal ideas about Putin and the Pussy Riot Punks.

      • klingsor says:

        A disingenuous argument. If you’re a public figure and are asked a question “on the record,” you know your reply becomes a public pronouncement. If you don’t want your views to draw that kind of scrutiny, don’t answer the question.

        • Fabio Fabrici says:

          But it’s different when gay activists *demand* answers, right? Then every person has forfeit their right to remain silent, I see.

  36. Cookie the Just says:

    This is an old, old argument, one never settled to everyone’s satisfaction. (Think of Liberace and Roy Cohn dying in their closets while some thought they should commit the political act of coming out.)

    For me it always comes down to everything, from the quality of our air to the purity and cost of our water to the suffering of others on the far side of the world, being political. To pretend otherwise is absurd.

    Marian Anderson and Leontyne Price managed to be “political” while being artists. Why not Netrebko? She doesn’t need to wave from a float in a parade, just give a little wave of her hand in the right direction. Like a butterfly moving air, it would create an effect around the world because we are all connected and the butterfly is not just anybody.

    If she chooses not to do that, chooses to remain unconcerned by what’s happening in Russia, surely she knows that many will abandon her because they do care. I certainly will.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Liberace was GAY???

      • With all that glitter he was sporting plus his young sidekick, it was pretty obvious. As for oppression, I don’t remember his having to enter by a different stage door or go to an inferior hotel or restaurant like Billie Holiday being a black woman had to do.

        • Theodore McGuiver says:

          I was joking, Cabbagejuice. I first saw him on TV when I was about nine and it was glaringly obvious to me even at that age.

      • klingsor says:

        It’s all a vicious rumor. Next thing you know, they’ll be saying the same of Elton John.

  37. Andrew2 says:

    I’d certainly be interested to hear what Gergiev’s view is…

  38. TheSibelian says:

    I know that Gergiev and Putin are good friends… has he ever made a statement about or expressed his views on the matter? Should he be demanded of the same thing as Netrebko?

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      Nobody has the right to bully any law abiding person to do anything. Mr. Gergiev is also the leader of a very big cultural institution in St. Petersburg. Good political contacts are a necessity in any country, if you want to run a cultural institution successfully. In the mean time I suggest we focus on the many more pressing problems close to our own homes and political landscapes. And are also aware of the concerted Anti-Russia propaganda by the usual suspects and try to separate objective information from propaganda.

      • TheSibelian says:

        I agree. “Bullying” is what this editorial comes off as. As much as I support the cause and personally I’m curious to know these people’s opinions on the matter, in this situation I don’t think someone should have the right to make the demand that someone “MUST state” their position on something irrelevant to their line of work. The arrogance. At this stage what Netrebko thinks is her own business. The last thing we need to do is start putting musicians in ideological categories so we know which ones support X and which ones don’t support X so that we know which people to embrace and which ones give the evil eye to and perhaps even refuse to work with. Pseudo-blacklisting.

  39. Fabio Fabrici says:

    156 posts later, and not a SINGLE citation by the self-appointed political correctness Gestapo, when and where Anna Netrebko “actively”, without being asked first, endorsed Putin.
    Here is what I found after a google search:
    She said in an interview in Germany this:
    “Ich sehe keine Alternative [zu Putin]. Und wenn es eine geben wird, dann sehen wir weiter.”

    “I don’t see an alternative [to Putin]. And once there will be one, we will think again.”

    WOW! That’s it. Doesn’t sound like a convinced “activists” for Putin’s cause to me. She also has extended family in Russia…
    This thread is just about a shitstorm in a teapot, and Mr. Scott should just go and pound sand instead maybe?

    • John Hames says:

      Yes, I think that’s what’s called a ringing endorsement. . . . NOT.

      If that’s the extent of her passionate activism, then the self-righteous Thought Police should apologise, and then campaign honestly on the issues.

      • Gurnemanz says:

        “the self-righteous Thought Police should apologise”

        No offense Mr.Hames, but I had a good laugh upon reading these words. Them, apologize??? These people you call “self-righteous Thought Police” will never apologize to anyone. In their view, they can not make a mistake or wrongly accuse any person so whatever smears they heap up on him/her are there to stay as far as they are concerned.

  40. Joyce DiDonato speaks on using her position to spotlight social injustice:

    Do you care about fame?

    No, but with it comes a certain power. I don’t have an Angelina Jolie-type platform, but my standing in the opera world allows me to discuss issues like equality and gay rights. Here in New Mexico, I dedicated a performance to a gay teenage boy who killed himself (2). It went mini-viral.

  41. Fabio Fabrici says:

    In the mean time everybody should read the full text of the new Russian “anti-gay-propaganda” law, it’s relatively short. Never hurts to actually know what one tries to talk about.

    • Scott Rose says:

      Readers note: the source of the Russian anti-gay law at that link is from 2012 and overall anti-LGBT legislation in Russia has advanced well beyond what was written at that time. On its own, it was bad enough. It alleges that any speech reflective of the scientific consensus on homosexuality and gay people is a threat to the nation and to the “moral” well-being of society generally and children in particular. In addition to being against the overwhelming scientific consensus on homosexuality and gay people, the legislation incorporates one of the oldest anti-minority hate speech tricks known; calling an entire social minority a grave peril to children. This “law” is a variant on the Blood Libel so long used against Jews. As a result of it, in Russian schools, when anti-LGBT bullies attack students who are actually or perceived to be gay, by law school employees are forbidden to talk about a gay sexual orientation with the victims in anything but a negative tone. In other words, this legislation prescribes for Russian school victims of anti-gay bullying to be re-victimized by school employees. How many potential young musicians will be lost to suicide or to being hounded out of educational institutions because of this cruel, anti-scientific “law”?

      • What scientific consensus are you talking about, those standing in line to be hailed by the political correctness coalition? Having read the law, I agree that children should be protected from ALL types of over sexualization. Teenage pregnancies are getting younger. Whatever happened to childhood innocence? It is not such a bad thing, you know. I will not go into sexual orientations or behaviors like promiscuity caused by trauma or rape that in themselves contribute to suicidal ideations.
        All this is too overwhelming for kids to process. If they are/were victims, are they supposed to accept their inclinations or even addictions as OK? It’s really too much for adults let alone for children.
        You were talking about “science”???

        • Scott Rose says:

          For clarification to readers, the scientific consensus is that homosexuality is a nearly universally-occurring, normal human variant. Awareness that one is LGBT manifests early in individual LGBT persons. There is nothing more pernicious in a heterosexual teen acknowledging that he or she is heterosexual — (an everyday, commonplace occurrence) — than there is in a gay teen acknowledging that he or she is gay.

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            In a strictly scientific sense of terminology – since you emphasize scientific standards – the norm, the “normal” thing, would be the sexuality that guarantees procreation of the species. Having said that, variants are certainly possible and should not be discriminated against. Nobody can spare a teenager the trauma to realize that he/she is gay and thus not “normal” in the biological sense. What we can do is to make this realization as pain free and acceptable as possible.

          • Where is the science saying that the T in your alphabet soup is normal and natural? That is the problem in promoting and trying to get others accept a package of values. Non-persecution is one thing but forcing biases on others is another. This seems to be the point in the Russian law, not foisting certain prejudices on children until they are mature enough to weigh all the options.
            It may not be “fair” to have a curb defining the border between sidewalk and street but it does prevent accidents. Warning signs are placed on cigarette boxes. Why shouldn’t there be a protection for the institution of monogamous marriage that has been demonstrated scientifically to secure the best environment to promote and maintain a stable society?

      • Obviously not every society feels it is its duty to promote the LGBT agenda to children and what comes with it, including educational curriculum in which activists are fixing children as young as 5-8 y old with ideas about using “all their body holes for sex” as can be witnessed for instance in some provinces of Canada. It is amazing to see so much justified outrage when it comes to physical abuse of children and so little when it comes to trash their brains during their age of innocence.

        • klingsor says:

          Since every society relentlessly promotes the heterosexual agenda to children of all ages, it seems only reasonable that other alternatives be given a voice as well. People may differ on what constitutes age-appropriate instruction, but the fairness of the basic principle remains unchanged.

          • The “heterosexual agenda” that you speak of is the how to make and preserve a family agenda, how to secure the best environment for children agenda and how by promoting monogamy and deferred gratification, sexual health is maintained individually and collectively. What is coming next is the incest, polygamy and pederasty agenda.
            According to your logic, it is only fair they get a hearing too. In fact one can call it the “let’s destroy the institution of marriage agenda”. In fact, there was no real burning desire to cement unions that are open by nature. “Living together” for everybody and anybody was being promoted starting from about 40 years ago. What’s this sudden rush to call it “marriage”?

          • Sorry to break it to you but since we are ALL borne out of a combination of heterosexual gametes…

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            The “heterosexual agenda” is the survival of the species, no less. Now if Homo sapiens is a good example to wish for the future survival of the species is a different matter for another discussion.

            But homosexuality is not an “alternative” as you put it. Apparently sexual orientation is not by choice. So either you are homosexual or you are not. Nothing to be done. But why, why for anything in this world, should homosexuality be promoted by a society? This is going way too far. Also it is not logical, since if it is no choice, there is also nothing to choose from, and if there is nothing to choose from, then there is no need for promotion.

            No, in line with principles of humanity we must make sure nobody is discriminated for his sexual orientation, be it “normal” or be it a “variant”. We must foster a climate of tolerance, empathy and inclusion in our societies. But that does not mean we should promote homosexuality in any way.

            I think “family” is the most important social entity and it needs promotion. We also witness the relentless attack from all sides on the family institution. For the simple reason, that strong families are an obstacle in total control over people. Be it politically or be it by the market forces. Individualized people, “me, me, me” narcissists, are easier to manipulate and easier to sell useless stuff in quantities to.

          • This is a fascinating scientific discovery, Svetlana, but the fact that you left your sentence unfinished is telling: it shows that what you said does not change the fact that this new Russian law is expressly and intentionally homophobic in its purpose.

  42. Michael Schaffer says:

    So if “gay propaganda” is now outlawed in Russia, does that mean that stuff like this is now illegal?

  43. Sorry to bump in. Dear Mr. Lebrecht, with all due respect – who are you to tell Mrs. Netrebko, let me quote … :
    “It is a matter of legitimate public interest to clarify whether Anna Netrebko holds gay human beings in respect or contempt.”

    You are right: What is going on in Russia is a shame for mankind. Putin’s scapegoat politics have more than a slight uncanny resemblance to Hitler’s. Still, this leaves the point untouched: How do you dare to suggest – from your comfortable chair wherever this might be, I suppose in a cozy place just as mine where being gay or speaking about homosexuality is not prosecuted – that Mrs. Netrebko shits on human rights? What would you write or say if you were Russian and would endanger your future, and your family there, e.g.?

    The appropriate observation to make would be: This is a very nasty situation for Mrs. Netrebko. She can become sick, this would be an elegant way out without the need to make a statement. This is not about whether she values human rights or not – this is about the situation she will put herself in if she will openly support gay rights, turning her into an enemy of the regime. This affects her private life as well as her career, for good or for ill. This is a decision she has to make for herself.

    Let me take a turn to all the gay opera singers: I am always delighted when I read about one who is out, as role models are important. Yet it is not mine or anyone’s task to demand anything from any singer but decent singing.

    I am totally d’accord with your last paragraph: The opera world should be more outspoken than it is already when it comes to politics. Every art form is political to some degree; opera, as well as dance companies should stand together in this matter. Just by the way (and this is how I ended up on your site): Do you have any information how Russian theatres and companies deal with that matter?

  44. Those of you who are criticizing Netrebko for not speaking out should consider that you are not asking her to challenge the leader of a free country as in the US and Western Europe. If any of us in the US wants to criticize our president or legislators, we are free to do so and unless you live in a cave, you know that this criticism goes on constantly. Netrebko, on the other hand is faced with criticizing Czar Putin who has the power to do the following to her: 1 – Deny her access to Russia, 2 – prohibit her from leaving Russia and 3, the worst option for her – take it out on her relatives still living in Russia.

  45. I sympathise with Scott Rose’s article in trying to respond to Putin’s unjust legislation, and am glad he is speaking out. But as a gay man who is very concerned about the events in Russia, I also feel cornering Mme Netrebko on this issue isn’t going to help. Strident activism, boycotting, has its place in countering injustice, but its best used against extremist organisations and individuals. And Netrebko isn’t an extremist.

    It’s reasonable for gay men in the arts to ask where their performers stand on this issue. I would suggest a private interview with her. If she agrees to speak on our behalf – well and good. Advertise it. If she declines – fine. Let the lady sing.


    Many gay men and lesbians would be equally horrified at the “using all holes for sex” comment in children’s education. It’s completely unacceptable. As a gay uncle to my adorable niece and nephew I am very concerned by, and opposed to the sexualisation of children. I was very involved in their upbringing. As part of a very close (and part Russian family btw) I was a constant presence in their lives. And hopefully a good influence on their character and values. In fact I was more strict than their parents… :) Like my Babushka used to say, I think the reason they’re so fond of me now is because I was so strict with them from an early age.

    But there is NO Universal LGBT Agenda designed to recruit, indoctrinate or persuade children into being gay and lesbian. There will be no Mass outbreak of Homosexuality if gays and lesbians become accepted in any society. There will simply be a more integrated and united society which isn’t fighting and attacking itself.

    A few people in this thread have spoken with a totally polarised viewpoint – presenting a tightly-knit nuclear family clinging to their traditional values on one side – and a circling pack of LGBT vulture waiting to attack on the other hand. It’s BS. We ARE part of the family unit. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and even parents ourselves.

    One of the irrational fears that Putin has played on is equating education with propaganda.

    Talking simply, factually and openly about the existence of gay and lesbian youth and families isn’t propaganda. It’s simply free speech. There are some excellent resources that introduce the topic to children of all age groups and that do so in a completely unsexual and unthreatening way.

    Anyone who is truly concerned about the sexualisation of children would be legislating on the omnipresent hyper-exualised content in print, TV and online which is dominated by heterosexual content. Why aren’t they targeting that?

    And if Putin was sincerely concerned with low fertility rates in Russia, (he has cited this factor as one reason for introducing the legislation) his government would be focusing on promotional campaigns that encourage Russian couples to have more children. A genuinely concerned Government would be focusing on mechanisms that DO increase fertility rates such as BETTER CHILD CARE SERVICES; FLEXIBLE WORKING SCHEDULES and PARENTA LEAVE. All these policies will effect birth rates.

    So I think it’s fair enough to say Russian LGBT ARE being scapegoated.

    Interestingly I found out a prominent US evangelical, Scott Lively, who was instrumental in campaigning for the “KILL THE GAYS” legislation in Uganda and other African nations was touring Russia around 2006/2007 promoting similar policies to the legislation just introduced.

    Anyway – I’ve enjoyed your insightful and balanced comments Ilesia. It’s always good to have one’s passionately held views challenged in a polite and thoughtful way.

  46. Ps… to KATHIE

    I’m guessing this commenter has long since departed this Blog. But I was really disturbed on reading her posts which seemed to me to be written in a terrible state of bitterness.

    Kathie – sometimes a small minority of my comrades-In-arms are shrill, hysterical and just plain nasty. On behalf of All My People I apologise for any hurt or personal offense caused to you. And I really am being genuine.

    I’ve been spat on too. It’s rather distressing. I hope you weren’t hit in the face? The large gob of phlegm that was launched at me from a passing car as they yelled “F###in F@##ot” landed on my chest fortunately. Though my mohair jumper was Ruined!

    RUINED!!! :{}

    So I hope we can all forgive and forget. Feel free to continue expounding in spiritual depth on why our very existence is detrimental to the foundational principle of something-or-other. I don’t really mind. The Vatican often says something similar about how being gay is an even GREATER threat to civilisation than Climate Change! Am not sure exactly what branch of science this alarming fact was discovered through… but I gather the Polar Ice Cap melts a little EVERY time I smooch my partner. Good Lord! It’ll be tropical in the Yukon by 2030.

    Have a Doris Day Kathie!!


    and please don’t be mad.


    • You comment made my day. Thank you.

      To the comments before: The argument of protecting children a) has nothing to do with homosexuality; it has to do with pedophilia, which is something entirely else. So the claim that LGBT “views” (I prefer the terms freedom of choice, individual freedom or human rights) are promoted in any way to young children and this would be a threat is simply false. Don’t confuse innocence with cluelessness. It’s not the same thing.

      To Netrebko: I heard she actively promoted Putin during one of his election campaigns. I had no time yet to research on that matter, but if I imagine I was Russian, and was asked by the most-probably-to-be-president if I was going to sing, and I said no, it would be the same as burying my career in this country in total. So I don’t know how far her involvement went there.

      She made a statement on her twitter which has been quoted on this page as well. The wording of this shows she wants no confrontation, which may be wise.

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