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War in Ukraine also digs trenches in the arts

Svetlana Zakharova, the biggest star of the Bolshoi Ballet and Teatro La Scala, cried after the performance of “Silentium” in Moscow. The moment was the visible face of a silent conflict that is affecting artists.

Svetlana Zakharova is a prima ballerina, having achieved all possible awards in the world of classical dance. At 42, the Russian-born ballerina, born in Lutsk, Ukraine, has become an easy target for anyone who wants to make her a symbol of the ongoing conflict. As a consequence, she disappeared from public life and made all social media accounts private, given the amount of insults she has received since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Neutrality and silence became impractical. “In accordance with the criminal actions of the Russian Government, we have renounced our former name. We believe that Ukraine and the rest of the world will defeat the Russian invaders and peace will be restored to our land. Glory to Ukraine.” It was with this message that the Royal Russian Ballet company justified the change to Royal Ukrainian Ballet.

The Royal Opera House in London has canceled the Bolshoi Ballet tour due to the attack on Ukraine. “A summer season of the Bolshoi Ballet at the Royal Opera House was in the final planning stage,” the institution said in a statement. “Unfortunately, under the current circumstances, the season cannot go forward,” he concluded without further explanation. The Russian State Ballet of Siberia company, which has been performing in the UK since 2007, was also due to complete a season at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton presenting “Cinderella” and “The Nutcracker”. But last Saturday, the theater tweeted: “Given the situation in Ukraine, Royal & Derngate has made the decision to cancel today’s performances by the Russian State Ballet.” This company’s performances were also canceled in Wolverhampton. Last Friday, the Helix Theater in Dublin canceled a performance of “Swan Lake” by the Royal Moscow Ballet “to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine”.

The Paris Opera also quickly parted the waters. “The history of the Opera National de Paris is rich in strong and close ties between France and Russia, embodied by artists, composers, dancers or choreographers such as Serge Diaghilev, Modeste Moussorgski, Rudolf Nureyev, Marius Petipa, Sergueï Prokofiev, Igor Stravinsky or Piotr Ilitch Tchaikovsky. All have left deep marks on our institution’s lyrical and choreographic repertoire and the Opera will continue to bring its heritage to life. However, the current season does not foresee collaboration with Russian cultural institutions. The Opera will be careful not to get involved with them or with artists who publicly expressed their support for the regime. The Paris Opera expresses its solidarity with artists who oppose the aggression decided by the Russian authorities and welcomes the decision of those who put an end to their activities linked to this regime”, declared the institution.

Also the Festival de Castell de Peralada, in Catalonia, canceled the performance of the Ballet Mariinsky, from St. Petersburg, which was supposed to open the event in July. The direction declared that its attitude was a “show of mobilization and an appeal for an immediate end to the war, joining the majority appeal of European theaters and festivals against the war. In this sense, the festival claims the need for positioning of artistic institutions and their leaders against war and a commitment to peace”.

In Italy, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, from La Scala Theater in Milan, known as pro-Putin, was summoned to take a public position on the conflict. When he did not, limiting himself to what the institution described as a “deafening silence”, he was removed and will not take that stage when production resumes this Saturday. Carnegie Hall in New York and the Philharmonic in Munich also made the same demand of Gergiev. The result was repeated: in the absence of a response from the conductor, he was withdrawn. This domino was followed by soprano Anna Netrebko and the very same Svetlana Zakharova, also stars of Teatro la Scala.

Also this Friday, the Fantasporto film festival withdrew the Russian film “Vladivostok”, by director Anton Bormatov, from this year’s schedule and expressed solidarity with Ukraine. “Fantasporto cannot fail to show solidarity with the suffering of Ukrainians and with the defense of Democracy,” the festival’s organization wrote in a statement.

“Given the situation created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine”, the Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation also announced that it will receive four artists immediately, to whom “a monthly grant of 650 euros will be awarded by the Foundation, for a period to be defined, that allows them to continue their work safely – now in the atelier that was owned by Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Arpad Szenes”, they said in a statement.

Source: with agencies/ JN

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