Met to partner Bolshoi in three works

Russian soprano Anna Netrebko will star in the three productions.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko will star in the three productions.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow are collaborating for the first time

MOSCOW • Two of the world's most important opera companies, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Bolshoi Theatre here, will collaborate for the first time and produce three operas in coming years, they announced on Monday.

The productions - Verdi's Aida, Strauss' Salome and Wagner's Lohengrin - will all star Russian diva Anna Netrebko.

Mr Vladimir Urin, Bolshoi's general director, said in a news conference here that he mentioned his Met counterpart, Mr Peter Gelb, and their negotiations at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in February. Mr Putin approved the arrangement, which will result in performances in Moscow and New York from 2019 to 2022.

Netrebko, who holds dual Russian and Austrian citizenship, will sing the lead roles in Aida and Salome, as well as the main soprano role in Lohengrin, the companies said in a statement.

Mr Gelb said the collaboration did not constitute true cultural diplomacy as, unlike during the Cold War, Russian and American performers now work together so often. Netrebko, for example, has been one of the Met's biggest stars for the past decade.

But Mr Gelb and Mr Urin called the partnership a positive step.

"I strongly believe that these kind of events allow us to better understand each other," said Mr Urin. "But we are doing this because we think it is necessary from an artistic point of view."

Mr Gelb referred to the thawing of ties under former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his American counterpart Ronald Reagan.

"I remember very well when Gorbachev and Reagan signed their first accord and it began with a cultural exchange," he said.

Mr Urin said he and Mr Gelb were introduced by a Bolshoi adviser: Mr John Berry, the former artistic director of the English National Opera in London, which had developed a healthy co-producing relationship with the Met.

"To collaborate with this great theatre has been a long-time dream," Mr Urin said of the Met in a statement, while Mr Gelb spoke highly of the Bolshoi's recently renovated technical facilities.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'Met to partner Bolshoi in three works'. Print Edition | Subscribe