Met Opera commemorates the first year of the war in Ukraine with a concert

NEW YORK — Emily D’Angelo made her point with a costume before she sang a single note at the Metropolitan Opera concert to mark the centenary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 28-year-old Canadian mezzo-soprano walked on stage on Friday night for the Mozart Requiem wearing a dark skirt covered in white score marks, like a school blackboard: four vertical slashes and a diagonal to close each row of five . The costume created by Berlin designer Esther Perbandt had 365 in all, one that commemorated every day of Europe’s bloodiest conflict since the Second World War.

“Although the opera house does not have the offensive prowess of an Abrams tank or an F-16 jet, the Metropolitan Opera is proud to be a powerful cultural resource for Ukraine, helping the fight for artistic freedom against (Vladimir) Putin. cultural propaganda machine,” Met general manager Peter Gelb told a mediating group that included UN Ambassadors Sergiy Kyslytsya of Ukraine and Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the US “We show the free world’s continued cultural resolve to defend Ukraine’s freedom against brutal brutality. “

Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin led what was titled “For Ukraine: A Concert of Remembrance and Hope”, featuring Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov and bass-baritone Vladyslav Buialskyi and South African soprano Golda Schultz too. With the Capital Opera House draped in the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian flag, and an actual flag hanging above the stage, they opened with the Ukrainian anthem, followed by Mozart’s Requiem and Symphony No. 5 Beethoven and ended with Valentin Silvestrov’s hymn “Prayer for Ukraine.”

“The Metropolitan Opera,” said Kyslytsya, “embraced Ukrainian culture, I accepted, my mission accepted.”

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska addressed the crowd at the start of the evening in a pre-recorded video speech.

“You have proven that art can help and save, literally,” she said. popular victory.”

The Ukrainian singers wrapped themselves in flags during the curtain calls. Tickets were priced at $50, and the Met said the amount was lower than its usual prices in hopes that audience members would donate large sums to support the Ukrainian war effort.

Gelb cast Russian artists who refused to distance themselves from Putin from the Met’s roster, most famously soprano Anna Netrebko.

“It’s a small price to pay,” he said. “It was important to be on the right side. I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror and I know Putin supporters performing on our stage.”

Russian bassist Ildar Abdrazakov, who has withdrawn from a new production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” at the Met next season, recently suggested that artists should remain neutral.

“My answer is that they chose a side and they chose the wrong side,” Gelb said. “I regret that he is like many other Russians so misinformed and do not really understand what is going on in the world.”

The Met has hired four interns from Ukraine and Gelb plans to add Ukrainian composers to the Met’s commissioning program. His wife, Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, will once again lead the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra on a summer tour. She was back in New York after conducting Verdi Requiem and “Bucha. Lacrimosa” at the Lviv National Opera on Tuesday to commemorate fallen soldiers and victims of the Russian invasion.

“I felt I had to go and experience this myself and show Putin that he can’t kill the culture, he can’t kill the soul of Ukraine,” Wilson said. “We had to hide in a bomb shelter for the first exercise. For the dress rehearsal we were delayed two hours in a bomb shelter. But I felt no fear – there was no fear. There was this determination to get through this concert somehow, and it went beautifully.

“The power stayed on. And there were soldiers in the audience, young boys, they were in the first two rows. And when I went to do my bow and people were clapping for me, I started clapping the soldiers. And we all praised the soldiers. And that’s what the power of music does.”

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