Met Opera marks 1st year of Ukraine war with song
NEW YORK – Emily D’Angelo made her point with attire before singing a single note at the Metropolitan Opera’s concert to mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The 28-year-old Canadian mezzosoprano walked onto the stage Friday night for the Mozart Requiem wearing a dark skirt covered with white tally marks, like on a school chalkboard: four vertical slashes and a diagonal to close out each set of five. There were 365 in all on the outfit created by Berlin designer Esther Perbandt, one to mark each day of Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II.
“Although an opera house doesn’t have the offensive capacity of an Abrams tank or an F-16 jet, the Metropolitan Opera is proud to be a powerful cultural resource for Ukraine, helping to lead the fight for artistic liberty against (Vladimir) Putin’s cultural propaganda machine,” Met General Manager Peter Gelb told an intermission group that included U.N. Ambassadors Sergiy Kyslytsya of Ukraine and Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the U.S. “We demonstrate the free world’s ongoing cultural resolve to defend Ukraine’s liberty in the face of brutal oppression.”
Met Music Director Yannick NézetSéguin conducted what was titled “For Ukraine: A Concert of Remembrance and Hope,” that also featured Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov and bassbaritone Vladyslav Buialskyi and South African soprano Golda Schultz. With the Metropolitan Opera House bathed in the yellow and blue colors on Ukraine’s flag, and an actual flag hung above the stage, they opened with Ukraine’s anthem, followed with the Mozart Requiem and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and ended with Valentin Silvestrov’s hymn “Prayer for Ukraine.”
“The Metropolitan Opera,” Kyslytsya said, “adopted Ukrainian culture, adopted me, adopted my mission.”
Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska addressed the crowd at the start of the evening in a prerecorded video speech.
“You have proven that art can help and save, literally,” she said. “I hope that it is on this stage that we will soon be able to celebrate the victory of humanity, of art, of Ukraine, and it will be our common victory.”
The Ukrainian singers wrapped themselves in flags during the curtain calls. Tickets were priced at $50, with the Met saying it held the amount lower than its usual prices in the hope audience members would donate large amounts to supporting Ukraine.
Gelb dropped Russian artists who refused to distance themselves from Putin from the Met’s roster, most famously star soprano Anna Netrebko.
“It’s a small price to pay,” he said. “To be on the side of right was what’s important. I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror and have known Putin supporters performing on our stage.”
Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov, who withdrew from a new production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” at the Met next season, was quoted recently as saying artists should remain neutral.
“My response is they chose a side and they chose the wrong side,” Gelb said.