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NY's Metropolitan Opera Ordered to Pay Anna Netrebko for Canceled Performances

The Met canceled Netrebko's appearances after her refusal to denounce Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine

Last year, Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera's general manager, said in a video statement that the institution will “no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him – not until the invasion or killing has stopped, order has been restored, and restitutions have been made.”

One of these artists included Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, who has reportedly shown support for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In one such instance, she was photographed with a separatist flag after donating to an opera house in Donetsk, a war-torn city in Ukraine controlled by Russian separatists.

After her failure to explicitly denounce Vladimir Putin, The Met canceled 13 of her appearances, including in two Verdi operas, Don Carlo, and La Forza del Destino.

According to The New York Times, arbitrator Howard C Edelman issued a decision last month ordering The Met to pay Netrebko a sum of $200,000 to compensate for the canceled performances.

The rationale behind the payment comes from the contractual agreement known as “pay or play" — which requires arts organizations to pay performers even if the institutions later chose to cancel the appearance.

While the Met defended its decision to cancel the performances, the arbitrator is ordering the payment because Netrbeko's alignment with Putin was “certainly not moral turpitude or worthy, in and of itself, of actionable misconduct.”

Netrebko had been seeking an additional $400,000 in fees for engagements in coming seasons, but since there were no contracts signed for those appearances, the arbitrator denied this request.

Furthermore, Edelman fined Netrebko nearly $30,000 on Netrebko for making “highly inappropriate” statements after the invasion, one of which was a social media post that used obscenities in describing her Western critics.

The New York Times reported that the Met made no comments on the specifics of the arbitrator's ruling, but that Peter Gelb said in an interview, “Although our contracts are ‘pay or play,’ we didn’t think it was morally right to pay Netrebko anything considering her close association with Putin.”

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