She sang in April at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, but Anna Netrebko’s concert at the Philharmonie de Paris on Wednesday April 25 marks the great return to the stage in a Western capital of the Russian star soprano, criticized since the war in Ukraine. Anna Netrebko is one of the greatest lyrical voices in the world. She had been among the first Russian artists to be singled out after the start of the invasion of Ukraine for not having clearly denounced the war.

The prestigious Metropolitan Opera in New York, of which she was the star, thus deprogrammed her for an indefinite period and she then announced that she was temporarily withdrawing from the stage. On March 30, she “expressly condemned the war against Ukraine”. A position that earned him an outright withdrawal from the poster in Russia. The singer has never officially supported the Russian president. But he is accused of having posed in December 2015 in Saint Petersburg with the flag of the pro-Russian separatist rebels and of having presented a check for one million rubles – about 15,000 euros – to the pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Oleg Tsarev.

Anna Netrebko defended herself by explaining that she wanted to support the arts, and more particularly the Donetsk Opera, to which Ukraine had cut off all funding, and assured that she had “never received financial support from the Russian government” and not ever allied with “any ruler of Russia”. In an interview with Le Monde daily on Sunday, she repeated that she was “guilty of nothing”, saying that her only mistake was not having “informed herself more about the situation in Donbass” and that she wanted “just helping friends in trouble”.

“I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin. I answered that I had a Russian passport, that it was still the president, and that I could not pronounce these words publicly. So I refused,” she added. Despite its condemnation of the war launched by the head of the Kremlin, the New York opera has called into question all its contracts until May 2026, according to her. His former mentor, the conductor Valery Gergiev – close to the Kremlin – was declared persona non grata by Western concert halls.

At home, Russian artists have been told to display their patriotism or – failing that – to remain silent, and in Western countries to publicly distance themselves from the military operation and the Russian regime. Anna Netrebko’s concert at the Philharmonie on Wednesday had already been postponed three times due to the coronavirus pandemic.

His last recital in Paris dates back to 2019, during a gala for the 350th anniversary of the Paris Opera. She will be back in December on the stage of this institution to sing in La Force du destin by Verdi. It will also make its big comeback in Italy, at the Arena of Verona during the summer.