Monday commemorated opening night for the Metropolitan Opera’s premier of Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlos. To commence the event, the cast joined together on stage and sang the Ukrainian national anthem accompanied by the Met Opera Orchestra. The audience rose from their seats as the anthem began in a display of solidarity.
The decision to perform the anthem came from the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, who told NBC New York, “When I woke up this morning, I said why don’t we do the Ukrainian national anthem?”
Gelb and company agreed it was an important message to send and began learning the lyrics and pronunciations that morning. “This is, after all, an opera that opens with the characters longing for an end to fierce hostilities between two neighboring nations, their civilians suffering the privations caused by the territorial delusions of a tiny few at the top, wrote Zachary Woolfe of the New York Times. “The geopolitical battles fueling the plot’s private agonies seemed more vivid than usual…”
On Sunday, The Met announced it was suspending its relationships with Russian artists and organizations who support President Vladimir Putin. In a video statement posted to Facebook, Gelb expressed solidarity with Ukraine and said: “As an international opera company, the Met can help ring the alarm and contribute to the fight against oppression … we can no longer engage with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him — not until the invasion and killing has been stopped, order has been restored and restitutions have been made.”
The Met’s sentiment is being shared overseas. Russian conductor, Valery Gergiev, has just been fired as chief conductor of the Munich Philharmonic after being dropped by his management company for failure to oppose Putin publicly. Marcus Felsner, who’d previously represented the 68-year-old Russian, described Gerviev as, “the greatest conductor alive and an extraordinary human being with a profound sense of decency,” reports NPR. Felsner went on to criticize Gergiev because he “will not, or cannot, publicly end his long-expressed support for a regime that has come to commit such crimes.”
Don Carlos will be at the Metropolitan Opera until March 26. Click here for tickets and information.