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Swiss city cancels Russian opera star’s concert

Swiss city cancels Russian opera star’s concert

Anna Netrebko was set to perform in Lucerne before local authorities scrapped the show over her alleged ties to Putin

A concert in Switzerland featuring Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko, which was set to take place on June 1, has been canceled after requests from local authorities, representatives of the concert hall in the city of Lucerne have told the media.

In a statement to the Luzerner Zeitung newspaper, the management of KKL (Kultur und Kongresszentrum Luzern) explained that “the public perception of the soloist remains controversial,” referring to accusations that Netrebko remains close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, having refused to renounce him over the Ukraine conflict.

The KKL venue also claimed that the concert’s proximity to the date and site of the upcoming Ukraine Peace Conference, scheduled for June 15 at the Burgenstock in the city of Nidwalde, would have caused “a threat to public order,” with one Lucerne politician claiming there would have been “at least a thousand” protesters at Netrebko’s performance.

Lucerne city council member Armin Hartmann has also told the media that the mayor’s office had explicitly asked the KKL to cancel Netrebko’s performance, stating that the “we do not consider it appropriate for a Russian artist supposedly loyal to the regime to perform in Lucerne.”

Read more Ukraine blasts Berlin opera over Russian singer

Mayor Beat Zusli has also claimed that “an artist who distanced themselves from the war but never renounced the Russian regime, should not appear in the city,” so as not to cause “reputational damage” to the region.

In response, Netrebko’s management has released a statement condemning the unilateral cancellation of her performance “contrary to the contractual obligations” of the organizers, noting that the Ukraine Peace conference would be taking place two weeks after the planned concert. The singer’s representatives stressed that “none of Anna Netrebko’s almost 100 performances since March 2022 have led to a disturbance of the public order.”

The singer’s management has also pointed out that following the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict in 2022, Netrebko has publicly spoken out against the fighting and has called for peace in Ukraine. She has also not returned to Russia since then, as she has been living in Austria since 2006.

Previously, Netrebko’s concerts have been canceled in Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Estonia and the US. The opera star ended up suing the New York Metropolitan Opera company last year to the tune of $360,000 for breach of contract, defamation and other offenses.