Star soprano Anna Netrebko sues Met Opera over its decision to cut ties over Russia-Ukraine war

by Andrew Wright
Anna Netrebko lawsuit

Famed soprano Anna Netrebko has initiated a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Opera and its general manager, Peter Gelb, after they chose to sever their ties with her following the military intervention of Russia in Ukraine. Once one of the Met’s major crowd-pullers, Netrebko alleges that the decision was a result of defamation, contract violation, and more.

Filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the suit seeks minimum damages of $360,000, accounting for unfulfilled performance and rehearsal fees. Netrebko argues that the Met’s actions led to serious psychological distress, including feelings of depression, humiliation, embarrassment, and anxiety.

In the wake of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in February 2022, the Met promptly withdrew Netrebko from its future programs, as Gelb demanded she publicly condemn Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Netrebko’s management asserts that the Met and Gelb have wrongfully made her a scapegoat in their effort to dissociate from Russia and express their support for Ukraine.

However, the Met has firmly dismissed the merits of Ms. Netrebko’s lawsuit. Following the Met’s actions, the American Guild of Musical Artists lodged a complaint on Netrebko’s behalf, leading to arbitrator Howard C. Edelman’s ruling in February that the Met had breached the union’s collective bargaining agreement by cancelling contracts for her appearances in Verdi’s “Don Carlo,” “La Forza del Destino,” and Giordano’s “Andrea Chénier.” This led to a compensation award for the lost performances, calculated by the union to be $209,103.48.

Netrebko, who first appeared at the Met in 2002, was supposed to be paid the Met’s highest fee of $17,000 per performance as stated in the suit. Edelman’s verdict clarifies that Netrebko was not owed for her voluntary withdrawals from performances of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” and Puccini’s “Turandot”.

The lawsuit further alleges a breach of contract for additional performances in the 2024-26 seasons and claims discrimination against Netrebko due to her national origin.

Netrebko’s suit contends that her reputation among audiences was damaged by Gelb and the Met’s actions, leading to protests against her performances and deterring other U.S. cultural institutions from hiring her, resulting in her selling her New York City apartment at a loss.

The suit also points to the negative consequences of the Met’s demand that Netrebko publicly denounce the Russian government’s actions, including cancellations of her contracts by Russian theatre companies, criticism from Russian audiences and media, and potential danger and retaliation from the Russian government.

Despite her absence from the U.S., Netrebko has continued to perform, recently opening Italy’s Arena di Verona’s 100th anniversary season with a new production of Verdi’s “Aida.” She has performances scheduled this month at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and during the 2023-24 season, she will be appearing at opera houses in Berlin, Vienna, Milan, and Paris.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Anna Netrebko lawsuit

Who has Anna Netrebko sued and why?

Anna Netrebko, a celebrated soprano, has initiated legal proceedings against the Metropolitan Opera and its General Manager, Peter Gelb. The suit alleges defamation, breach of contract, and discrimination based on national origin, following the Met’s decision to discontinue their professional relationship with her due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

What damages is Anna Netrebko seeking?

Anna Netrebko’s suit is seeking at least $360,000 in damages. This figure represents lost performance and rehearsal fees. Netrebko also alleges that the Met’s actions resulted in “severe mental anguish and emotional distress”, including depression and anxiety.

Did the Met violate any agreement by canceling contracts with Anna Netrebko?

According to a ruling by arbitrator Howard C. Edelman, the Met did violate the union’s collective bargaining agreement by canceling deals with Netrebko for her appearances in several operas. As a result, Edelman awarded her compensation for the lost performances.

Where is Anna Netrebko performing now?

Despite her absence from the U.S., Anna Netrebko has been actively performing. She recently opened the 100th anniversary season of Italy’s Arena di Verona with a new production of Verdi’s “Aida.” In the coming months, she is scheduled to perform in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and during the 2023-24 season, she will be appearing at opera houses in Berlin, Vienna, Milan, and Paris.

What is the response of the Met to Anna Netrebko’s lawsuit?

The Metropolitan Opera has dismissed the merits of Anna Netrebko’s lawsuit, stating it has no merit.

You may also like


OperaFan99 August 5, 2023 - 7:07 am

oh wow. never thought I’d see the day when politics gets in the way of beautiful music. smh 🙁

RachelP August 5, 2023 - 12:20 pm

If it’s true about the mental anguish she’s been put thru…well, it’s just not fair. And all because she wouldn’t take a political stand. She’s a singer, not a politician.

ClassicalMusicLover August 5, 2023 - 1:12 pm

It’s tough but she’s still performing. that’s the spirit of a true artist. Go Anna!

John D. August 5, 2023 - 2:46 pm

That’s a real mess! I can’t imagine what Netrebko’s going through! being turned against both by US and Russia, it must be real tough!

VerdiLover August 5, 2023 - 5:18 pm

Can’t believe she had to sell her NY apartment. It’s all getting too much.

MartinK August 5, 2023 - 8:20 pm

so she’s suing the Met huh? Good on her. They shud’ve known better than to mix politics and arts!


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News