Prague City Council tries to block Anna Netrebko’s concert

On 16 October 2023, the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House in Prague will host a performance by Russian-born soprano Anna Netrebko. However, everything is pointing towards the fact that the concert of the world-famous opera singer originally from Krasnodar may not take place.

by Opera PLUS Editors’ Room

Jiří Pospíšil, the deputy mayor of Prague responsible for culture, says he will look for a way to cancel the concert because he considers its realisation insensitive to Ukraine. Netrebko has been on president Zelensky’s sanctions list since 7 January 2023.

Mr. Pospíšil said he had discussed the matter with the Czech government’s commissioner for Ukraine last week and would like to visit the Ukrainian embassy. He also intends to discuss the matter with the management of the Municipal House. Vlastimil Ježek, the head of the Municipal Hall, has previously said that he sees no justified obstacle to the concert taking place. At the end, it will have to be the board of directors of the Municipal house joint stock company who will decide the fate of the concert.

In case of cancellation of the event, the agency and the artist herself would demand fat compensation. Just as compensation was paid after the cancelled engagement at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (the media wrote about the amount of 200 thousand dollars). According to organizer, there is a great interest in the Prague event. According to the Nachtigall Artists it is already eighty percent sold out.

We have prepared a quick interview with the owner of the Nachtigall Artists agency, Alena Kunertová, who is organizing the concert.

Alena Kunertová, producer od Netrebko’s concert in Prague (photo Michal Fanta)

Ms. Kunertová, do you consider Jiří Pospíšil’s action adequate? In his case, is it sincere activism?
I haven’t received any official statement or ban on the concert, so I really don’t want to comment. I’m getting my information from the press, or rather from the journalist who called me with the information.

Do you understand that a blockade of Russian artists could help stop the war?
I certainly approve of the blockade of Russian artists and athletes who support the war and promote the Putin regime.That is not the case with Anna Netrebko. She has condemned the war, is an Austrian citizen and is not allowed to go to Russia.

Are you willing to negotiate with politicians in person?
Yes, I certainly am, there are many inaccuracies that appear in the press.

Do you think that politicians will try to block the concert even with the use of repressive forces – police intervention…?
I don’t think such a thing will happen. We will definitely solve everything diplomatically in time and without negative emotions.

Do you have any alternative solutions prepared, either in the form of a different programme or concert venues?
So far, no one has officially informed us about the cancellation of the concert. Other suitable venues are out of the question. An alternative programme is not on the agenda, we do not want to cancel Anna’s concert.

Thank you for the interview.

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