Liudmyla Monastyrska Singing In Questa Reggia from Turandot!
Dear Commons Community,
Liudmyla Monastyrska, a Ukrainian soprano, was in Poland, shopping for concert dresses ahead of a performance. Her phone rang, and it was Peter Gelb, the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, on the other end. He was blunt: His company was in a bind.
Ukraine had recently been invaded, and the Met had parted ways with the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko over her previous support for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Gelb wanted Monastyrska, a charismatic singer known for her lush sound, to replace Netrebko in a revival of Puccini’s “Turandot,” which opens this Saturday.
Monastyrska, 46, was reluctant. In 2015, after a punishing run at the National Opera of Ukraine in Kyiv, she had vowed never to perform the title role of “Turandot” again, worn down by its demands. And she was nervous about getting caught in the politics of the Russian invasion and alienating Netrebko, one of opera’s biggest stars, whom she has known for seven years.
Gelb reassured Monastyrska, promising that her appearance would help bring attention to the plight of the Ukrainian people. As reported by The New York Times.
“I was surprised, but I felt it was important for me to sing,” Monastyrska said in an interview. “I wanted to help however I could.” She still felt uneasy, though. “I don’t like to sing other people’s contracts,” she said.
Throughout her career, Monastyrska has made a studied effort to avoid politics. She does not have a Facebook page and tries not to read the news, preferring to focus on her family, her faith (she’s Ukrainian Orthodox) and her artistry.
But in recent weeks, as the war in Ukraine has intensified, she has found a political voice. She has criticized Netrebko’s meandering statements on the invasion, saying that Netrebko’s opposition to the war and attempts to distance herself from Putin have come too late. She has railed against the Russian government (“They are killing people for no reason,” she said in the interview) and denounced artists who continue to support Moscow.