3 May 2022

Classic FM

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The opera star replaced Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko, in the lead role of Turandot which opened at the Met last Saturday night.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York opened its latest production run of Puccini’s Turandot on 30 April 2022 with Ukrainian soprano, Liudmyla Monastyrska, taking over the title role.

Monastyrska, 46, has appeared at the Met a handful of times since her debut in 2012, and has become a mainstay in opera houses across Europe, gracing the stages of London’s Royal Opera House, La Scala in Milan, and the Vienna, Bavarian, and Berlin State Operas, among others.

However, the spinto soprano wasn’t originally meant to be covering the titular role for the 2022 production. Russian soprano, Anna Netrebko, was booked to sing Puccini’s iconic Princess, but was dropped by the New York opera house over her past ties to Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

During the curtain call of Saturday’s opening night, Monastyrska returned to stage with a Ukrainian flag draped over her costume. The emotional act was met with cheers and applause from the audience.

Monastyrska, who was born in Kyiv, has been vocal on her position against the war in Ukraine, since the Russian invasion began at the end of February earlier this year.

In an interview with the New York Times ahead of her Turandot performance this weekend, Monastyrska said although she was surprised to get the call to perform in the upcoming opera, she “felt it was important for [her] to sing”.

Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has called the spinto soprano “a powerful, vocal symbol of the Ukrainian cause”. According to reports, he called the soprano personally, to ask if she would take the role this season.

As well as Turandot, Monastyrska is also slated to take over the Met’s upcoming Tosca next season. The titular role in Puccini’s opera was originally programmed as Russian operatic soprano, Hibla Gerzmava, a known and avid Putin supporter.

In July, Monastyrska will sing Verdi’s Aida at the 2022 Verona Opera Festival in Italy, in the city’s famous Arena.

The soprano will also be front and centre of the newly created Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which will tour Europe and America this summer in “artistic defense of their country.” Proceeds will go to the benefit of Ukrainians.

Fans of Monastyrska will be able to watch her in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Turandot in cinemas worldwide on Saturday, May 7, at 5:55pm BST, as part of The Met: Live in HD series.