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Metropolitan Opera responds to anti-Putin protest

The Met had been asked to dedicate its opening night – with Putin supporters Gergiev and Netrebko – to a protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Its response:

The Met is proud of its history as a creative base for LGBT singers, conductors, directors, designers, and choreographers. We also stand behind all of our artists, regardless of whether or not they wish to publicly express their personal political opinions. As an institution, the Met deplores the suppression of equal rights here or abroad. But since our mission is artistic, it is not appropriate for our performances to be used by us for political purposes, no matter how noble or right the cause.


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  1. PK Miller says:

    I don’t know… It almost seems like a cop out. If an institution as prestigious as The Met that DOES engage many LGBT performers including their Music Director, is not going to stand up & be counted then who will? This is far more important than that Russian soprano whatever her name. One individual performer isn’t going to make much difference. but if The Met makes a statement, Putin will notice. It’s not “political.” It’s a matter of BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

    • PR Deltoid says:

      They made the right decision. If the Met starts taking political positions on issues of the day, there will be no end to the stances they are pressured to take. This will put them into one awkward position after another (quick, what should be the Met’s stance on Israel/Palestine?). They will stop being an artistic institution and become a political one.

      • jes scott says:

        absoloutely – i agree its a slippery slope. They are best to remain out of political/human rights(which is political) stands. Whether they be noble or base and to keep their primary focus – art, their primary focus.

        • they’d be best staying out of politically charged issues, by NOT inviting artists who support dictators suppressing elementary human rights

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            What about inviting artists who support democratically elected governments suppressing elementary human rights?

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            Is pitching gay pride and life style to minors an elementary human right?

          • you sound like you have total belief in Russian parliament having a case here. but there is no case! they haven’t provided a single example of such ‘propaganda to minors’. gays in Moscow have been denied even a right to hold their full scale parade–something that in US and other countries absolutely isn’t considered ‘pitching homosexuality to minors’–what ‘gay propaganda among minors’ are we talking about?
            plus, Russian “Duma’ itself is absolutely illegitimate, it was elected with gross violations and serves as a minor wheel in Kremlin-run political system
            but even if you think there’s legitimacy to this law, why make it about ‘gay’ propaganda only? why not about all sorts of sexual ‘propaganda’? is inviting a 10-yr-old boy to sleep with a woman any better than inviting him to sleep with a man?

      • Well said indeed. The MET’s statement is not only excellently written, but, above all else, it is right. The original “campaign” was self-serving and inherently childish.

        • Lloyd L. Thoms Jr. says:

          Well, follow the dropping of German operas amd composers during WW1

          • Fabio Fabrici says:

            A world war is not exactly the same as a law that prohibits public display of gay pride to children, or is it?

    • Daniel Farber says:

      No—it’s entirely political, and the Met’s statement is entirely just. Your point-of-view is, of course, worthy of respect. But since the Met’s music director has never talked about his sexual orientation[s], I think it entirely inappropriate for you even to mention it. One’s privacy ought to be a human right too, and until the relatively recent growth of various technologies it was always so considered.

    • Cop out? Human Rights? And you think Giergiev and Netrebko can take on the whole of Russia as a pair in America, and they hardly live in Russia? No, the Met made absolutely the right decision – to keep out of another country’s politics and policy, and sort out their own anomilies. Giergiev and Netrebko have rights too – to get on and perform music for which they are getting employed, and to do the job to their best ability and be true to Tschaikovsky’s score and directions. Sorry, as a singer I disagree. Fine if they want to donate their fee, and give it to the homeless and starving of Russia. Anything to do with human rights is political, and whose human rights are going to win?

      • by the way, Tchaikovsky himself was gay. for that matter, TATU, the most groundbreaking pop act to come out of Russia, was clearly lesbian on-screen. the anti-gay laws and attitudes in Russia not only are disgusting, they’re outright ungrateful, cause in different times, in different spheres of music, as well as other arts and many more spheres of activity, Russia’s glory has been on quite a few occasions created by people of either ‘alternative’ orientation, or those reflecting it in their work. but hey, this is a country where they’re trying to ban ‘Lolita’, one of the most famous works of Russian literature in 20th century, also for being ‘inappropriate for children’

        • Again and again – there are no anti-gay laws in Russia ! You can be a gay, or straight or what you want, there is absolutely no law prohibiting this ! I just wonder why after such a long discussion, when somebody was even posting a link to the text of the law, you are still speaking about anti-gays law ! It was US, where anti-sodomy laws existed till 2003. In Russia there are just laws protecting children, be it pornography, nudity or pride stuff. And these laws are not anti-straight, not anti-nudist and not anti-gay. You can be what you want, do what you want, but just let children be children !

          • Mark Somers says:

            I’m sorry, aj, but you are diverting the truth. This law is adamantly stating that my lifestyle must be hidden from children because it is wrong, in the eyes of some people. It is not wrong, so the law is blatantly discriminating. When it becomes against the law to propagate heterosexual relations, and male-female couples are forbidden to have contact that might appear unnatural to a gay child, then the playing field will be equal and ALL sexual orientations will be discriminated against equally. Till then, Russia is just plain evil.

          • by the way, i hear they now want to retract their position–sort of–and stage some sort of pro-LGBT event. dpuble chickens, those MET–lol

          • To say that “there are no anti-gay laws in Russia,” is utterly stupid!!!

  2. Michael Sirotta says:

    I know, if no official dedication, how about having Gergiev conduct a Carmen or Samson with a counter tenor (not in drag) as the Femme Fatale?

    • If it’s meant to be funny, then I take your point but didn’t see a smiley to indicate it! Otherwise to desecrate music and to trivialise counter tenors for the means of making a point is just bad taste, but I think you were just trying to make us laugh and have a bit of fun?

  3. The rights of LGBT citizens are not an “issue of the day”. Suppressing them is a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which is subsumed into the charter of the United Nations. The horrible irony is that two great Russian artists are launching the Met season with a masterpiece by the greatest of all gay composers. It is important from the premiere of Onyegin to the Sochi games the Kremlin should be reminded of the massive opposition to its homophobic policies. And that includes you, Peter Gelb.

    • Excuse me, my impression is that the story behind Russia and LGBT is pure politics. First, there is no supression of gays in Russia, there is no penallty for being gay, it’s just regarded to be everybody’s personal issue. The law everybody is talking about is just about impactibg children with such issues. The logoc behind this law is same, as logic behind laws, forbidding demonstration of pornography to children, nothing else. Or do you think such law is supressing devotees of pornography ?
      The situation is getting more bizarre, if you bear in mind, that there are really countries having penalties for being a gay, take Saudi Arabia, a close ally of US, where homosexual activities can be punished with death. Dont you think it would be more logical to start fighting for LGBT rights with Saudi Arabia? But strangewise the protests aregoing to Russia. Why?

      • they’re not going ONLY against Russia. President Obama said during recent trip to Africa, that African countries should put end to their state=sponsored homophobia
        that having been said,a)how long ago did you see or hear of a Saudi Opera performing at the Met? b)Saudi Arabia may be our geopolitical ally, but nobody’s ever presumed it’s a Western-style democracy or a country that aspires to be one, yet, Russia claims to be an advanced European society, in is a member of G-20, G-8, European parliament and many other such entities that Saudis are not and probably never will be members of. so it’s only fair that Russia be subjected to greater scrutiny, in this regard

        • If I got you right, you are saying, that rights of saudi arabian gays are less valuable, cause Saudi Arabia is not a member of G20 and Saudi Opera is not performing at Met, don’t you ?

          And you don’t see any politics behind the fact, that when some people in America are talking about gay rights in the world, they don’t start to speak about situation in Jamaica (which is much closer to USA and where gays are punished) , but about Russia (which is far away and where beiing gay is legal) ?

          • no, of course you got me all wrong, and i refuse to accept any blame for it :) the problem with MET and Gergiev is that this is a supposedly respectful artist who supports homophobic and generally antidemocratic and destructive regime and its policies. i never heard of a homophobic Jamaican artist, for instance, performing on MTV or Good Morning America or at MSG. as a matter of fact, maybe i missed something but i generally haven’t heard about homophobic reggae artist, for instance

            and as far as i know, people who protest atrocities such as outbursts of homophobia in Russia, pro9test same sort of things the world over, be it Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, here in US, Iran or anyplace else. so the claim thyat ‘it’s only against Russia’ simply is without a merit

      • as for the law, what is the need for having a law specifically singling out ‘the gay propaganda among the youth”? all sexual propaganda among minors should be banned, yet they made this a special issue, and did so, let me remind you, in the wake of their outrage at the Magnitsky act, which also included the ‘King Herod law’, that is the one forbidding adoptions of Russian orphans by American parents. so they simply made an example out of LGBT community, just like they did out of a few sad cases of mistreatment of adopted Russian kids by American citizens. Cases whose overall share is absolutely meager, mind you
        there may be no harsh laws for being gay in Russia right now, but people have been killed, beaten, thrown out of places such as eateries, clubs and so on, for as much as being suspected of being gay, even when they actually are not! the atmosphere in the country right now, not only for LGBT but especially for them, is scary and atrocious, especially with the current teachings of the Russian church, and pseudo-masculine ‘culture’ of the recently resurfacing ‘Cossack’ movement, among others. you point your finger at Saudi Arabia, but even that country in recent years has slowly moved towards somewhat of improvement in its level of tolerance, whereas in Russia the regime and its allies are basically pulling the nation closer to the Taliban/Khomeini worldview, so i wouldn’t be surprised if we did at some point see the return of openly anti-gay legislation there, just like they had in Soviet times

        • Knowing about US supporting AlQuaeda in Syria, knowing about Guantanamo, about PRISM program and about the fact, that no european country was able to give an asylum to Snowden, it does not seems to me that Russia is keen to be regarded as “western style democraty”.

          Gays can (and are) be beaten also in such states as Texas, do you think this is reason enough for Bolshoi Theater to start an anti-american campain ?

          Different countries have different attitude to different sex-related matters, the attitude to nudity in US is different to that in Europe. And don’t forget that even with sodomy laws in place (in some states such laws were repealed only ten years ago, later than in Russia ) US regarded themself as “land of free” and pretended to have a right to teach other countries what democraty is, so please bear this in mind when speaking about “advanced european society”. Do you also think that society with legalised polygamie are more advanced than others (US is also among them), where polygamie is punished ?

          As far as people are free to do in their bedrooms what they want and the question is just about confronting children with information on different sexual practices (or for example with nudity, which is handled much more restrictive in US than in Europe), I can not believe any country has right to tell other country what they have to do.

          • and does it define family as ONLY heterosexual? and does that condone beatings, murders and throwing people out just for ‘looking gay’?
            it is a basic human rights issue, therefore: right of any legit group to live without fear, oppression, persecution and so on. Gergiev etc support violation of that right. MET should not let such people perform. end of story.

          • a country who’s a signatory to various international treaties, laws etc, surely needs to be told what to do; else they may live ‘their own life’ secluded and shut down from the rest of the world. in this sense, Russia, as a signatory to many such things, MUST oblige by them
            the big difference between US and Russia of the day is, that in US each side is allowed its legal, political, informational and other means of presenting and defending its case, whereas in Russis it’s essentially not so. in Texas, people may be more conservative, but do they run a blatant homophobic propaganda on every corner?: do they murder a person or kick them out for ‘looking gay’, and say it’s ok to do so? Well, last time i heard of whites killing a black man in Texas, those two got death penalty, and rightfully so. and i strongly suspect same would happen to anyone who is proven to murder a gay person in TX
            as for legalized polygamy, i didn’t get your point. i don’t trust it’s legal in US,m otherwise those “Yearning for Zion’ and other similar perverts wouldn’t be persecuted

  4. The Met statement is USDA Grade AAA American. Art is not to be political, as the Met states in unequivocal terms. Though little recognized, this is a tradition that was firmly rooted by McCarthyism. After the purges, the tradition of apolitical art continued and was reinforced by covert government programs like the Congress for Cultural Freedom. It is now so extreme it sets the American arts community strongly apart from its European counterparts, especially in opera. Sadly, this apolitical stance has, in effect, become a catch all for moral cowardice in most American arts institutions, especially in classical music.

    • One need look at the demographic of the Met’s funding system and who sits in the overwhelming majority of the house’s best seats to understand why this “apolitical” stance is so important.

      • On the other hand, why would anyone(like myself) pay good money to be harangued by some nobody Eurotrash director?

        • All the same, it would be refreshing to have an operatic culture that might upon occasion voice dissent. When art becomes too obedient and conformist it loses a part of its truth-telling purpose.

        • PR Deltoid says:

          If the Met were to take a stand on an issue opposite to the one Mr. Osborne holds, would he applaud them for not giving in to “moral cowardice”?

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        What is that demography? Who is sitting in the overwhelming majority of the best seats?

      • William hits on the key issue: The Met gets its funding from an elite donor base that likely includes at least some on the political right. The company can’t afford to alienate them by taking political and social stands, no matter how morally justified they may be.

        Yes, James Levine is gay but he’s no Leonard Bernstein in speaking out about big issues of the day. Rather, he’s been successful for decades at hiding his personal life from the public and I don’t think that’s about to change now.

        • Daniel Farber says:

          Again, your use of the word, “hiding” as regards Levine’s not talking about his private life, is inappropriately pejorative. The point is that until very recently, we here in FRONT of the iron curtain have thought of a right to privacy as a fundamental human right. He’s been “successful” in maintaining the highest musical standards at the Metropolitan Opera for more than 40 years, and it is for this that all of us are in his debt.

    • I believe you’ve already stated that American opera is already very different from the European version. I do not see any issue in American art representing the country in which it is being created.

  5. Lloyd L. Thoms Jr. says:

    According to Irving Kolodin’s “The Metropolitan Opera” (1966), Opera by German Composers in German were discontinued by The Metropolitan Opera during the years 1917 – 1919. Wagnerian operas began again in 1921 with “Parsifal” in English. So, it appears that art vs. politics has occurred in the past.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      True, but to be fair, that was almost a century ago when things were very different. They also arrested Karl Muck, the German-born (although at the time a Swiss citizen) conductor of the BSO and put him in an internment camp in 1917.

    • Monica Rivers says:

      Are we currently in a declared state of war with Russia, then?

      • we are essentially in Cold War 2.0, especially if you been following the news, what with president Obama refusing to go to Moscow and personally meet Putin, and so on. this happens for the first time in 40 yrs, mind’ya. and by the way, the situations around Syria, Georgia(the Republic, not the state), Iran, North Korea and so on, are approximating that of Afghanistan of 79, which, if you remember, led to US boycott of Moscow Olympics. Moreover that there have been calls to boycott the upcoming Winter Games in Sochi, precisely due to homophobic hysteria in the country. And while Obama and Cameron already spoke out against it, there’s still some half year to change their minds. so i’d say yes, all in all our state of relations is quite bad, and pres Obama, for all his dovishness, just recently himself recognized it

        • Whic homophobic hyteria are you speaking about ? The only point of argumentation is a law to protect minors. Nothing else ! The common situation with gays in Russia is better than somewhere in Texas ( where people were even set on fire for being gay couple of years ago, such things happen there regularely). Do you think that anti-sodomite laws in USA were reason enough to start an anti-american campain and boycott Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996 ? Have you personally participated in such activities at this times?
          I am surprised that you mention Syria, where US are supporting AlQuaeda, so it seems that you are absolutely ok with that, but somehow I can understand, that there are also countries, which have other point of view on such support and I see no point in boycotting them.

          I as a european am much more concerned about network of secret jails, built by US secret services in Poland, Lituania and Romania to held people withou trial, am much concerned about situations, when innocent people with german citizenship (like in the case of El -Masri) are abducted by CIA on the streets of Europe, brought to Afghanistan and tortured. These are the real problems, these are violations of human rights, and not a minors-protecting law in Russia!
          I understand also, that there are a lot of people, who are not comfortable with independent policy of Russia and who try to blow up any case just to start a new cold war. But hey – I have a full understanding, that Met wants to keep out of this cases.

        • as far as in May 2013 there was one more killing of a gay in Geenwich Village (Mark Carson was shot to death). As I wrote, such things happen regulary (if you are interested, there is statistics, but somehow not much people are speaking about it). Is this a sign of homophobic hysteria in US? Would you agree this is a reason to boycott US?

    • You are correct, Lloyd Thomas. I don’t know what they did during World War Ii, but I know that the German arias were removed from all the compilation aria books for soprano, etc., so I suspect the same thing existed at the Met during WW II.

  6. Maybe the MET sees artists as artists first and who they care to love is their own business. The LGBT community just fought decades to be treated like everyone else under penalty of law, now they need to just get used to not having any special claim against others. If arts institutions get any further in to politics, they will find out what it really means to be impoverished. The truth of arts fundraising is that liberals are all talk and aren’t charitable givers and it’s the cultural conservatives who pull everybody’s weight so artists get paid.

    • first of, it’s one thing to stick to conservative values(and by the way, which version of conservative values are we talking about? because libertarians, for instance, are for most part totally OK with homosexuals), and totally different, to drive or approve of vehement xenophobia. secondly, the Russian situation is precisely about the country reverting, or being forced to revert by its current leadership, to the very condition and attitudes that USA departed from, thanks to the very LGBT and other groups’ struggles, and that Russia itself seemed to depart from. it’s not about LGBT claiming special protection, it’s about gay people in Russia being once again put on a spot as one of the officially hated and alienated groups.
      people in arts who express any sorts of hateful views, are rightfully alienated and subjected to heavy disapproval, sometimes to the point of being excluded from general community. examples abound: Mel Gibson, Lars von Trier, John Galiano, Michael Richards and many others. Gergiev should not be an exception
      Finally, somebody here mentioned that donors of Met are probably mostly of right-wing political persuasion, but if you’re a normal American right-winger, not a paleocon or pseudo-libertarian revisionist a la Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul, then you’re most likely to be appalled by any violation of human rights, xenophobic propaganda, or general Kremlin games, much of which are dedicated to obstructing America’s policies. that is to say, it’s precisely the right-wing folk in general, and those among donors of The Met in particular, that should be appalled by it hosting Gergievs and such, it’s a whole different story that among the Met’s donors, there probably are some Russian oligarchs who owe all their wealth precisely to Putin. don’t for a second underestimate the corrupting abilities of this regime

      • It is so funny. It turned out, that US secret services can have your credit card number, can have password to your mail accounts and can break any encryption in your computer, what makes them able to transfer money from your bank account, to write mails in your name, use your computer’s camera to watch you home, etc. etc. And you here are speaking about “Kremlin games” and Putin and violation of human rights in Russia (by the way, is there a human right to involve children in discussions on homosexuality) ?

        • you know what’ really funny? that you point accusing finger at US gov’t and secret services for essentially doing their job, which is protecting your life and properties, among other, yet make light of Kremlin, who truly spy on their people, and unlike ours, uses it to destroy political opponents, take away people’s businesses and so on. now, THAT’S FUNNY.
          as for your question, on one hand, it’s a parent’s right to educate a child about sexuality. on the other, if we’re talking about deliberately propagating one or another form of sexual activities among minors, it’s a crime NO MATTER if it’s done towards homo- or heterosexual side, but for that, you need to look for most part into the presumably most pious and ‘traditional’ crowds, such as, say, Christian priests, rabbis, mullahs and so on; not towards gay community. vast majority of child molestors are ‘straight’, mind you

          • Excuse me, all your comments are full of politics, somehow I can not get rid of impression, that the main issue is not a situation wirh gays in Russia, but Russia-bashing. Are you in same way concerned with gay rights on Jamaica, has Met been asked to devote opening nights to repression of gays ih this country ? And by the way, what about anti-sodomite laws in US, some of which were repealed in 2003, later than in Russia ? Who is here teaching whom ?

          • somehow i get the imperssion that YOUR comments are not concerned with keeping art out of politics or seeking to establish truth about the situation, but basically about US-bashing. for your info, in Soviet times, to which Russia is reverting now, it was punished by labor camps. whereas in US, even if there are super conservative laws in some states, you don’t see people being sent to prison or camps of any sort, for being gay

            claiming that criticism of current regime in power in Russia, and especially of its most despicable policies, is equal to bashing the country itself, is like claiming that criticizing nazism in Germany was equal to bashing Germany and the German people proper. which is to say, nonsense

          • As far as I know, NOW you can be sent to Guantanamo even without a trial, based just on accusations. Dont know where you take moral right to point finger at other countries. If you want to fight for LGBT rights – start with Jamaica and Saudi Arabia, if you want to fight for human rights, start with USA.
            Such hysteria around minors-protecting law as some people try to develop now, is just a part of propaganda campain against current russian government. Pure politics, nothing to do with arts.

          • Current Russian government has done everything to deserve this ‘propaganda campaign’, whether it’s homophobic ‘laws’ its puppet ‘parliament’ adopts, or those banning Russian orphans from being adopted by foreigners, persecution of opposition, support of openly murderous regimes and entities, stealing elections, and many other things. As for ‘starting human rights fight here at US’, US may not be perfect but it definitely is way ahead of Putin’s Russia as well as most other countries. and like i said, no homophobic artists from Jamaica or Saudi Arabia come to perform at the Met, so there’s no issue here. and it’s not about pointing finger or lecturing other countries, its about reminding those countries or better said, their rulers, of the agreements they signed up to. if they want to be homophobic, they may so, but without hosting Olympics, World Cup, G-20, or sending their stooge musicians over here
            and please pick a better case of ‘US violation of human rights’ than Guantanamo. had we not been attacked on 9/11, there’d have been no Guantanamo in the first place; and by the way, some folks who deserved to be there, like among other the Tsarnaev brothers, slipped out and managed to stage actual attacks in the country–precisely because of the lax atmosphere and attitudes to all sorts of subversives in the US. so much for the ‘tyrannical US government’

  7. Marguerite Foxon says:

    Thank god common sense prevailed at the Met. Lets get on with opera and leave gay rights campaigning to gay rights campaigners.

    • Derek Castle says:

      What does ‘getting on with opera’ mean? Wheeling out the same old prettified productions that have been in mothballs for decades? Does opera have no deeper meaning than the superficial story? Is it just about beautiful voices and A-list stars? I’m no supporter of the rubbish some (mainly) German producers inflict on opera and theatre audiences; they seem to me to disrespect the music and just want to be controversial, but surely fresh approaches are needed to stop opera dying a slow death.

  8. Paul Ricchi says:

    As if the Glass’s extra-musical bluster during last year’s run of Satyagraha were not politicizing,. (and how sad to see a creative artist not confident enough to let his creation speak for itself.)

  9. This Dutchman cannot help but remember the wartime and post-war history of conductor Willem Mengelberg here. An ‘artistic mission’ does not always stand on its own free of all politics. The practice of art always serves some political stance or other, even if – or, most crucially when – many will not hear of it. It’s entirely legitimate to demand that the politics in question be just.

  10. Did anybody actually read this “anty-gays laws”? You can use google translator here

  11. What a bunch of condescending bull. Would you ever imagine the Met saying this?

    “The Met is proud of its history as a creative base for Jewish singers, conductors, directors, designers, and choreographers. We also stand behind all of our artists, regardless of whether or not they wish to publicly express their personal political opinions. As an institution, the Met deplores the suppression of equal rights here or abroad. But since our mission is artistic, it is not appropriate for our performances to be used by us for political purposes, no matter how noble or right the cause.”

    Its stance is a cop-out, yet another sell-out to the corporate moneyed interests that have corroded Big Arts in the US. Arts organizations, particularly leading ones like the MET, have a moral mission as well as an artistic one. It is disheartening to see them do what is expedient rather than do the right thing.

    The Met’s positions brings to mind the words of German theologian Martin Niemoller (who was jailed for the crime of “not being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement”):

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    There are times when our organizations must speak up. This is one of them.

    • PR Deltoid says:

      “Arts organizations, particularly leading ones like the MET, have a moral mission as well as an artistic one”

      OK, you’ve convinced me. I hope that the next time the Met stages “Wozzeck,” they’ll turn it into a criticism of Florida’s “stand your ground” law and the Zimmerman verdict. And the next time they do “Nabucco,” that will be their chance to show solidarity with the oppressed Palestinians.

      The possibilities are endless!

    • Ronald Stein says:

      Dietrich Boenhoffer not Niemoler!

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        I don’t know who Dietrich “Boenhoffer” is, but that quote is attributed to Martin Niemöller (not “Niemoler”). His original is a little shorter though. It doesn’t include the lines about Jews and Catholics. Still very relevant:

        “Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Kommunist.
        Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.
        Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten, habe ich geschwiegen; ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.
        Als sie mich holten, gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte.”

        • Joseph Gaken says:

          D Boenhoffer was a Prostestant minister who criticized Nazis, wrote much about theology and moral philosophy, and I believe he died in a camp. His writings remain extant and a major bio appeared about him last year.

          He’s a name to know regarding Christian responses to the Holocaust, with a moral presence which is universal and recognition as one of the scholarly life’s finest.

          • Michael Schaffer says:

            I know who he was. Members of my family were associated with his circle and they paid for it with their lives just as he did. I grew up with the stories of the survivors of that terror.

            I agree it’s a name to know. So you should know that his name wasn’t “Boenhoffer”. It was Bonhoeffer.

            And yes, he was hanged in a concentration camp just three weeks before the end of the war.

    • Fabio Fabrici says:

      alvarus, we are talking about a law that does not allow the promotion of homsexuality to minors. Don’t you think you are blowing this out of proportion when you bring the “Holocaust” – the mass murder of millions of people – into this comparison?

      • he’s not blowing it out of proportion at all; homosexuals were subjected to genocide by Nazis just as Jews were. there recently was a controversy in Brighton Beach area, with some people installing a plaque commemorating gays killed in Holocaust, and some objecting. interestingly, the man who installed that plaque is both Jewish and gay

        • Gurnemanz says:

          “homosexuals were subjected to genocide by Nazis just as Jews were”.

          No, they were not.

          • Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

            Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 men were arrested as homosexuals, of whom some 50,000 were officially sentenced.[1] Most of these men served time in regular prisons, and an estimated 5,000 to 15,000 of those sentenced were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps.[1] It is unclear how many of the 5,000 to 15,000 eventually perished in the camps, but leading scholar Rüdiger Lautmann believes that the death rate of homosexuals in concentration camps may have been as high as 60%. Homosexuals in the camps were treated in an unusually cruel manner by their captors.

            After the war, the treatment of homosexuals in concentration camps went unacknowledged by most countries, and some men were even re-arrested and imprisoned based on evidence found during the Nazi years. It was not until the 1980s that governments began to acknowledge this episode, and not until 2002 that the German government apologized to the gay community.[2] This period still provokes controversy, however. In 2005, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Holocaust which included the persecution of homosexuals.

          • Gurnemanz says:

            Strange…Some people who lived in that era got the crazy idea that nazism in fact has homosexual undetones. Like the author of this book:


          • There is too much to cut and paste here but a few clips should suffice. It is also interesting how much a gap lies between politically sanctioned hearsay and the actual facts.
   p. 32 “The Nazi Party… grew out of a number of groups in Germany which were centers of homosexual activity and activism.Many of the characteristic rituals, symbols, activities and philosophies we associate with Nazism came from these organizations or from contemporary homosexuals. The extended-arm “Sieg Heil” salute, for example, was a ritual of the Wandervoegel (“Wandering Birds” or “Rovers”), a male youth society which became the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts. The Wandervoegel was started in the late 1800s by a group of homosexual teenagers. Its first adult leader, Karl Fischer, called himself “der Fuehrer” (“the Leader”) (Koch:25f). Hans Blueher, a homosexual Nazi philosopher and important early member of the Wandervoegel, incited a sensation in 1912 with publication of The German Wandervoegel Movement as an Erotic Phenomenon,.. The SA Brownshirts or Stuermabteilung (“Storm Troopers”) were largely the creation of another homosexual, Gerhard Rossbach (Waite, 1969:209). Rossbach formed the Rossbachbund (“Rossbach Brotherhood”), a homosexual unit of the Freikorps (“Free Corps”).
            The attack on the Sex Research Institute is often cited as an example of Nazi oppression of homosexuals. This is partly true, but as we shall see, the “oppression” fits into a larger context of internecine rivalry between two major homosexual groups.
            In Treblinka, the narrative account of the Treblinka uprising, Steiner records the story of another Nazi administrator, taken from interviews with survivors: Max Bielas had a harem of little Jewish boys. He liked them young, no older than seventeen. He had a kind of parody of the shepherds of Arcadia, their role was to take care of the camp flock of geese, dressed as princes.
            p246 Thus, if we add up the numbers, it appears that very few of the millions of European homosexuals were ever sent to concentration camps and of those who were, only a fraction were interned for purely sexual reasons. If, of the 5,000-15,000 homosexuals interned, the “first thousands” were SA Brownshirts and many others were non-homosexuals falsely charged with homosexuality, it is possible that mere dozens or hundreds were actually sent to camps for homosexuality over the twelve years of Nazi rule.”

          • Aleks Yakubson says:

            first of, the site you gave a link to, in support of your position, is ma biased site and can’t be taken as a serious source or info or arguments. secondly, essentially all homosexual presence, as well as truly socialist one, was purged from the Nazi structures during Kristallnacht. thirdly, the hard fact is that gays were considered one of the ‘indesirable’ groups by Hitler regime. finally, as for comparatively small numbers of them killed in the genocide, this may be due to gays being much harder to identify, than say Jews, Gypsies, or mentally disabled
            what next, you’ll ‘remind’ us that Hitler [supposedly] had some Jewish roots, or that his party was [supposedly[ financed by the US?

          • @What does it matter if this book was cited by a pro-family site? Does that make the facts less true? Sexual perversion in any way shape or form was part and parcel of the Nazi movement. I’d like to make an analogy of certain hypocritical Middle Eastern regimes that officially persecute homosexuality but have plenty going on behind the scenes. Prudery and promiscuity get on very well together and frequently are two sides of the same coin.

          • A great last century Russian actress Faina Ranevskaya used to say that “there are only two perversions in the world – ballet on ice and field hockey”. By the way, cj, I do like your last sentence above here – well said.

      • Nope.

    • And what about Tchaikovsky—-and the oppressive, secretive nature of Russian society that drove him to suicide. This is not a cavalier issue; but a matter of life and death today as well as a century ago. The
      Met needs to be pushed off its pedestal and speak for human rights, otherwise it stands for nothing.

      And that may be the truth as well…

  12. Theodore McGuiver says:

    Well done, Met.

  13. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Those proclaiming this to be basic human rights issue: I’m not sure one could actually turn the problematic Russian law into a basic human right issue, that’s probably an exaggeration. Is pitching gay pride and homosexuality to minors a basic human right? It’s a difficult question. There are a lot of rights, and which take priority over which in case they are conflicting?

    Actually the gay activists here might be surprised to learn, that the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights contains this paragraph:

    …(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State…

    Which would actually support the Russian law makers, not the gay activists here. I’m not in favor of that Russian law, which IMO is homophobic, but I also don’t think it is a basic human right issue. The basic human rights of homosexuals in Russia seem not to be inflicted directly by this right I think.

    • Is pitching the Jewish (or any other) religion to minors a basic human right? Religion is much more of a choice then sexual orientation, and ALL civilized societies protect the right to do so.

      • What being a Jew has in common with sexual activities ? Do you think there is no rationale behind rules on exposing sexual explicit material to children , age restrictions for films, exposing nudity etc?

        • ‘exposing sexually explicit material to children’ is just a made up excuse for this law, moreover that there are already provi9sions in Russian laws, for punishment of pedophilia, child molestation, abuse and all that

          • what to you mean – made up excuse ? Law is low, and it is regulating just what it is regulating, nothing else. And the law is just about minors, and just about financial penalties for some activities related to minors. Do you really think children dont deserve special treatment ? Do you think Metropolitan Opera should decide, how russians are handling their children ?

          • Law is low

            in this case, yes :)
            seriously, i have said like 5 times already: laws aimed at defending Russian children from all sorts of molestation, abuse, corruption etc., have been in place for long time–sadly, they don’t often work, due to overall chaos and atrophy of justice system in that country. Russian parents should decide how to raise their kids and what to tell and not to tell them; but this law has none to do with it. Met, however, does have at least an unwritten responsibility of promoting humaneness, equality and other good values through arts; at least that’s what it’s expected to do by broader public.
            at any rate, going along with supporters of those values’ violators, is a huge blackeye on their image

  14. Gurnemanz says:

    A round of applause for the Met who refuses to be bullied into being a tool of the latter-day “progressive” totalitarians! Now, if they could only be persuaded to cancel the contract of Calixto Bielto…

    • i guess being bullied by a homophobic dictator is what gets you rounds of applause these days..

      • Sorry, after words ‘homophobic dictator’ I understood, that you are not serious with what you are writing. Same level, as speaking about dictator Merkel, dictator Obama etc.

        • well, if we are to presume that YOU are serious with what you’ve written just now, comparing Obama or Merkel to someone who starts xenophobic hysteria in his country, while actually not even being its fully lawful ruler–so if we’re to presume you are serious about it, then i’m afraid you need some sort of heavy-duty political as well as moral lecturing. which i am personally not up to, unfortunately

          • That is what I said – precisely this sort of things. There are also people, who think, that some US-president elections are void cause of some irregularities. Now you have changed from homofobia to xenpfobia (here I really dont know what to say), it seems that every ridiculois argument is good enough for you. Strangewise ypu were not answering to situation in Texas, US legislation etc (see my comments above).
            Question is just – why you do it. And as I can see, the reason is not a fight for rights of gays , not being concerned of human rights (in both cases there are more urgent things to do, see examples above), but trying to turn everything into anti-Putin propaganda. It is so clear, and surprisingly this hysteria starts at same time, as Snowden got asylum in Russia. And as it turned out, that Russia is the only state, able to protect whistleblowers. I understand, that your point of view here is same, as this of secret services, but again – what Met has to do with all your political fights ?

          • Snowden is a funny guy, who went to fight his fight with ‘abusive’ US gov’t first with to China, and then to Russia–two countries whose governments are way more abusive than American one. if you really had interest in what’s happening in Russia, rather than looking up to Putin just because you don’t like some things going on in the US, you’d know that back there the authorities eavesdrop on everyone they want, with no need even for slightest legal foundation, and then freely use illegally gathered ‘evidence’ to prosecute their opponents. shiniest example of it is what’s happened to the most serious Russian opposition leader, Mr Navalny, who was recently convicted on bogus trumped-up charges and with use of recording made 5-6 yrs ago when he was a virtual unknown. now, THAT IS A GOVERNMENT SPYING ON ITS PEOPLE AND ABUSING THEM. even Snowden and Manning have not been able to demonstrate a single case of evidence gathered by Prism and other such programs, being used in an abusive manner. the fact you’re trying to put US and Russian governments on the same level, and even present Putin, of all people, as ‘defender of whistleblowers’ and ‘truth seekers’, is the most ridiculous thing. and yes, you may accuse me of anti-Putin propaganda, but i do it because he deserves nothing less than that
            as for Texas, i think i actually answered about it above. US consists of 50 states, some of which are more conservative and some less, but it’s one thing to define family and other moral values and views in one way or another, and totally different to forbid people to be who they are. for your info, there’s an annual Gay [ride parade in Houston held since 1979, whereas Russian government still forbids such parades. no comparison and no analogy here
            as for changing from homophobia to xenophobia–there was no such change, because the latter is a case of the former. but if we were to talk ‘regular’ xenophobia in today’s Russia, we’d be able to site quite a few cases of that too, from constant barrage of anti-American and anti-European propaganda on Russia’s government-controlled media, to a statement by a prosecutor at a trial of a Jewish teacher dubiously accused of bribe, that ‘a person with the last name ‘Farber’ cannot possibly be well-intent toward Russian farmers’

          • ” you may accuse me of anti-Putin propaganda, but i do it because he deserves nothing less than that”

            Thank you very much for your confession. I think all further discussions are worthless. Hope you also understand, that your opinion is just one of thousands possible, and that misusing of sensitive themes like gays and human rights just for some inner-russian political issues can not be productive. Neither for gays, who start to be a subject in some political games of people with absolutely different interests, nor for arts institutions.
            I dont’t know, what you call ‘anti-american propaganda’, and if you will consider anti-american (what a wording, McCarthy would be proud of you!) lot of articles in european media, but there is no surprise, taking in account what US is doing last time.
            By the way, back to ‘propaganda’. I can not remind, when I was last time reading such indoctrinating, really propagandistic comments like yours. Really like in mccarthy times,, or how sectarians are discussing. Sorry to say that.

          • misusing of sensitive themes like gays and human rights

            how funny that you compare me to McCarthy, when he was bent on looking for domestic enemies everywhere they were and weren’t to be found, while i am talking about hard facts of policies by a usurper regime. but don’t take my words and ‘indoctrination’ for it: ask Russian gay and lesbian community themselves; read articles on the subject in same European press you claim publishes ‘Anti-American’ articles (and no, criticism of an ally is far from being hostile, in my opinion–even if that criticism is debatable, like say in case of Europeans’ attitudes towards Iraq war, or NSA practices or what not). move to Russia for a while, and/or learn some Russian, for that matter–then, perhaps, you’ll also see what i mean by ‘constant barrage of anti-American propaganda’ in Russia’s central government-controlled media

            and by the way, those gays and lesbians i know, both Russian and not, don’t seem to mind being ‘subject in some political games’. neither do Jews, Blacks, Latinos, Muslims, Christians or any other group that feels oppressed at any particular time or place. and neither should they.

            look at Mr. Putin’s record: gay-bashing laws. Stolen elections. Imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment opposition leaders, on trumped-up charges(most recent example–Mr, Navalny; wonder if you’ve heard of him at all–the guy, by the way, was the only Russian politician in Time’s 100 most influential people of last year, so hardly a purely local figure. Read some about the ‘Ilya Farber affair’, a case that invokes memories of anti-semitic trials of a hundred years ago. Look at his foreign policy record: support of just about every most vicious tyrant and human rights violator. And these are not scattered facts, they are all in line, whether homophobia, resurgent antisemitism, support of ant9democratic regimes, crackdown on political opponents and what not. and then ask yourself, whether it’s wrong for me or anybody else to ‘run anti-Putin propaganda’, and whether ‘anti-Putin’ is synonymous with ‘Anti-Russian’. and also whether it’s ok for artists, especially today when we know what such complacency has led to before, in countries like Germany, to approve of such leaders and policies. and in turn, whether it’s ok for a leading cultural institution that prides itself on promoting freedom and tolerance, to go along with this and approve such artists. in my opinion, it’s not. when Michael Richards, Lars Von Trier, John Galliano, Mel Gibson and others say something racist, antisemitic, for that matter homophobic–it’s rightfully denounced and these people deservedly become pariahs. i;d say, the real reason for Met’s position is NOT protection of artistic freedom, or political non-intrusion, but simply chickening out before Putin. which is pitiful

            and by the way, let me ask you: why is it ok for Russia to ban gay parades and other forms of ‘homosexual propaganda’, but not to say do away with Christian, Muslim, Jewish, communist or any other one? Quite a few people, probably many more than in LGBT case, might be offended by mass celebrations of Ramadan or Christmas, among other precisely because they may think ‘religious’ or ‘political’ propaganda poorly affects minors. many actually are. yet nobody comes up with an initiative to ban these events from being celebrated in public. this is pure discrimination

        • by the way, the fact you found nothing to respond after i showed you the massive difference between attitudes towards LGBT even in the most conservative US states, and that in Russia, and instead resorted to accusing me–quite rightly, and i admit it rather proudly –of running ‘propaganda’, is very indicative. like i said before, there’d be no ‘propaganda’ from me, had there been no ground for it

          thing is, treatment of minorities is a litmus test for any and every society. Putin’s Russia is drifting towards clearly failing this test. Gergiev and Co seem to have no problem with it, but we should, and for that matter, many people inside Russia itself do

  15. And I thought this was a blog about music. How naive of me. It is not up to the Met or any other musical organization or personality to make any sort of political statement. I strongly agree with the post above stating that personal privacy is a basic right. People will either choose to speak out or choose to remain silent. That is their prerogative. Frankly I wish more people with their self-proclaimed “platforms” would choose the latter. Anyone who thinks Putin would take any notice of any statement made by a US arts organization is delusional. If he did happen to get word of it, I strongly doubt his views or actions would change as a result. If you choose not to support the Met because of their stance (or lack of one) that is your business. The music deserves better than this pettiness.

    • Aleks Yakubson says:

      speaking out against injustice is as much a right, and much more of moral duty, than the right to remain silent. and yes, it’s quite possible that Mr Putin WILL listen when he’s showed that his wrongful policies may lead to poor results

  16. Scott Rose says:

    The Metropolitan Opera’s statement voices a clear condemnation of the anti-gay laws in Russia, the disclaimer at the end notwithstanding.

  17. matthew briggs says:

    for the met’s director gelb to say that as an arts institution the metropolitan opera must steer clear of politics and show no solidarity with the glbt victims of putin’s new russian nazi styled nuremberg law, is to pretend that politics has no place in the arts community and that the arts is not the cultural thread that identifies the social fabric that is a country’s, a society’s values.

    would mr. gelb like to stop performing all the Verdi operas in the Met’s repetoire that when composed and first staged were driven by the fight for italy’s independence. does he really expect his gay comminty to buy his mantra that he has a duty as head of the met to refrain from acts of conscience. how interesting that mr. bing had another opiniion following world war Ii and the holocaust, when great performers were carefully screened and some barred, on the basis of having been on too good terms with their nazi leaders. and should we look back at lily pons adding the french national anthem to the cloising aria of fille du regiment not as an act of grand patriotism for both france and usa, but as a mistaken act of conscience that violated mr. gelb’s and the present met’s board–we assume–wrong headed, and ethically challenged principle of the separation of arts and politics.

    it would appear that the only reason mr. gelb will not act to show faith with those lives putin is trying to destory in russia, is that he likes his job and he wants to keep it safe.

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