Art & Culture

Vienna State Opera Rejects Calls to Ban Its Russian Artists

The following is a statement the Vienna State Opera issued on March 21, 2022. World-Outlook is publishing it because it addresses an important issue in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as U.S. and NATO sanctions against Russia. We agree with the Vienna opera’s call to reject demands to exclude Russian artists from performing “as well as a world view that classifies people as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ only on the basis of their origin.”

Artists such as Russian pianist Ludmila Berlinskaya and cellist Anastasia Kobekina have lost concert engagements recently due to attitudes such as those the Vienna opera has rejected.

“We must not ban all Russian culture, it is discrimination that does not lead us to peace but even more to war,” Berlinskaya told the Violin Channel. “Artists who are not close to the state are not guilty of the situation even if they are Russian.”

We should note that during the long U.S. war against Vietnam 50 years ago, and during many other acts of aggression by Washington since, such a policy against artists from the U.S. would have been wrong for the same reason. It would also have deprived the world of many outstanding voices opposing that aggression. Any denial of the stage to Russian artists today only makes it more difficult for Russian artists to emulate that example now.

The English-language translation of the statement is taken from the opera’s Facebook page.

Vienna State Opera theater

Vienna Opera Statement

As an international opera and ballet house, we are happy and proud to unite artists from the most diverse nations on our stage — including Ukraine and Russia — who live their passion, love and devotion to music, song and dance in peaceful coexistence every evening across political, linguistic, national, cultural or religious differences and share their enthusiasm with the audience. Many of them have been at home in Vienna for many years and are an important part of Europe. With their work they set a strong sign for peace, international understanding and bridge building between cultures.

Russia’s brutal war of aggression on Ukraine leaves us stunned day after day and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Our full solidarity goes to Ukraine and our thoughts are with all people who are currently experiencing immeasurable suffering, including families and friends of our ensemble members, staff or our guests.

However, in the last few days we have received more and more demands not to allow the Russian members of the ensemble, the Vienna State Ballet as well as Russian guests to perform.

We strictly reject these demands for separation as well as a world view that classifies people as “good” or “bad” only on the basis of their origin. Current developments must not lead to the exclusion of individuals from cultural creation solely on the basis of their nationality.

Some comments are directed explicitly and in a hurtful way against artists of our institution. We reserve the right to delete these comments.

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