Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, one of opera’s biggest stars, faced criticism in her home country on Friday after trying to distance herself from President Vladimir V. Putin during his invasion of Ukraine.
Ms. Netrebko released a statement on Wednesday that appeared to be an attempt to revive her international career, which has recently crumbled due to her past support for Mr Putin. In the statement, she condemned the war and said she was not an ally to him.
In Russia, where Ms. Netrebko has a large fan base, her words were criticized. She was labeled a traitor on Friday by Vyacheslav Volodin, a high-ranking lawmaker who is an outspoken critic of anti-war artists.
“You can not call it anything but treason,” Volodin wrote on his Telegram channel. “There is a voice, but no conscience. The thirst for enrichment and glory outweighed the love of the motherland.”
And the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater in Siberia canceled an upcoming performance by Ms. Netrebko, because she seemed more interested in her global career than in “the fate of the motherland.”
“Today is not the time to sacrifice principles for more comfortable living conditions,” the house said in a statement on its website. “Now is the time to make a choice.”
Ms Netrebko was not immediately available for comment.
Since the start of the war, Ms. Netrebko has faced a wave of cancellations around the world due to her ties to Mr Putin. Her appearances at the Metropolitan Opera – where she had sung for 20 years and became its prima donna – have been canceled indefinitely. Other leading opera houses, including in Munich and Zurich, have also canceled upcoming commissions.
In her statement this week, Ms Netrebko tried to distance himself from Mr Putin, saying they had only met a few times. “I am not a member of any political party, nor am I affiliated with any leader of Russia,” she said, describing herself as a taxpayer in Austria, where she now lives.
Although she condemned the war in Ukraine, she did not explicitly criticize Putin or speak directly about her support for him.
It is still unclear whether she will succeed in reviving her career. The day she made her statement, the Paris Opera announced that she would star in a production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” this fall. (Alexander Neef, the director of that house, said in a statement Wednesday that the company was evaluating the situation.) The Met responded by saying it was not willing to change its stance; Peter Gelb, the general manager, said: “If Anna shows that she has really and completely detached herself from Putin in the long run, I would be willing to enter into a conversation.”
Ms. Netrebko once endorsed Mr Putin’s re-election and has supported his leadership over the years. In 2014, she was photographed holding a flag used by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. In her statement this week, she said, “I acknowledge and regret that any previous actions or statements made by me could be misinterpreted.”
Now she is at risk of becoming persona non grata in her home country and abroad.
“She’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t,” said Simon Morrison, a professor of music at Princeton University who studies Russia. She’s been canceled because of her years of pro-putinism, then she criticizes the war to save her international career, then is castigated at home for caring more about her performances than ‘the fate of Russia’.
Ivan Nechepurenko contributed reporting.