Russian singer accuses Czechia of censorship after show gets cancelled

Following political pressure from Prague City Council, the Municipal House has decided to cancel Anna Netrebko's October concert.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 18.08.2023 10:38:00 (updated on 18.08.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Russian opera singer Anna Netrebko has voiced a strong reaction to the recently announced cancellation of her October concert in Prague, alleging that the decision was influenced by political pressures and lamenting what she perceives as an act of censorship. 

Netrebko expressed her understanding of the decision taken by the Nachtigall Artists Management agency, the organizing body behind the event, which was scheduled to take place at Prague's iconic Municipal House in October. She commended the agency for its unwavering support, emphasizing the unfortunate lack of alternatives they had in the face of mounting pressure.

Pro-Putin ties

The singer, who is an Austrian resident, has previously supported Russian President Vladimir Putin's presidential campaign and engaged with pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Her concerts in the West faced boycotts following Russia's military actions in Ukraine. While she has criticized the war, she has not distanced herself from Putin. Notably, her shows in Russia have also been canceled after her condemnation of Moscow's military operation in Ukraine.

While disappointed by the outcome, Netrebko highlighted her concern for the 1,300 ticket holders who were denied the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to enjoy her performance. In response, she urged her devoted fan base to consider attending her upcoming show in Vienna, where she confidently asserted that the kind of censorship witnessed in Prague will not occur.

Political pressure had dominated

Originally set to play at the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, the concert's cancellation was decided by the institution’s director, Vlastimil Ježek. The event had evolved into a political and social quandary. Ježek assured that ticket refunds would be issued to those who had purchased seats for the now-scrapped sold-out show.

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Alena Kunertová, spokesperson for the organizing agency, confirmed that the decision to cancel was the result of political pressures, and Netrebko had decided not to pursue compensation from either Nachtigall Artists Management or the Municipal House. The situation had grown beyond their control, with political forces becoming a dominant factor.

Netrebko's presence on Ukraine's sanctions list played a crucial role in the events leading up to the cancellation. Members of the Prague coalition opposed her performance. The decision was recommended by Prague Deputy Mayor and member of European Parliament Jiri Pospíšil after consultations with the Ukrainian embassy, given Ukraine's ongoing struggle against Russian military aggression.

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