Because gay men and the opera, the opera and gay men, right? Gay men are the opera's most ardent fans and most vocal audience members. So... it seems just a little tone deaf for the Metropolitan Opera to open its season with an opera—an opera written by a gay man—that will be conducted by a vocal supporter of Vladamir Putin and that will star an equally vocal supporter of Vladamir Putin. NYT:
The long-planned new production of “Eugene Onegin,” which will open the Met season on Sept. 23, is to be conducted by Valery Gergiev, the artistic director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and one of the foremost interpreters of the Russian repertory, and to star Anna Netrebko, the popular Russian diva, who will be opening the Met’s season for the third year in a row. Both were vocal supporters of the 2012 campaign of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, who in June signed the law banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships.”
An online petition, referring to what the organizer calls “Putin’s recent laws against homosexual people and those who support them” and to Tchaikovsky’s suffering because of his homosexuality, is calling on the Met to dedicate its Russian-theme opening night to the support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. “I’m not asking them to be against anybody,” said Andrew Rudin, the composer who started the petition. “I’m asking them to be for somebody.”
Right on, Bartlett Sher:
[The petition has] attracted the signature of Bartlett Sher, the director of several critically acclaimed recent productions for the Met, including Offenbach’s “Contes d’Hoffmann” and Donizetti’s “Elisir d’Amore,” both of which starred Ms. Netrebko. Mr. Sher said in an interview that he did not see the petition as anti-Met but rather as a chance to take a stand against Mr. Putin and the recent law. “I saw it as a chance for everyone who loves opera, and all of us who work in it, to stand up to a pig and a dictator, against a terrible position and a terrible man,” he said.
Some context: St. Petersburg is where Russia's anti-LGBT pogrom got started—it's "where laws banning 'propaganda' in support of the 'gay lifestyle,' including public signs and gay pride festivals, first took root." Gay pride parades are banned in St. Petersburg and LGBT people are attacked openly on the streets in St. Petersburg. Look at what happened to a gay man held up a rainbow banner in St. Petersburg that simply read, "This is propagating tolerance."
Valery Gergiev lives and works in St. Petersburg. He may not give a flying fuck about LGBT people in his home city and country, he may not give a flying fuck about the gay people in the audience at the Met, but the motherfucker is coming to New York City—along with Ms. Netrebko—and gay people in New York City give a fuck about what is happening on in Russia and St. Petersburg. So it seems to me that the Met has two options here: dedicate its season opener to LGBT people in Russia, which would put Gergiev and Netrebko in an awkward position, or refuse to take a stand in support of persecuted LGBT people in Russia and risk an much more awkward demonstration on opening night.