Classical music fans are petitioning the Metropolitan Opera to dedicate its opening-night gala performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin to the Russian LGBT population, reports The New York Times.
The petition, which was started by composer Andrew Rudin, requests that the Met dedicate its Russian-themed opening night to LGBT equality because of both the new national law that bans the discussion of so-called gay propaganda — basically, any public discussion of LGBT issues or identities — and the hardships Tchaikovsky suffered because he was gay. “I’m not asking them to be against anybody,” Rudin told the Times. “I’m asking them to be for somebody.”
Though the petition had only received about 4,000 signatures as of this writing, it sparked an online debate about the role art should play in the political arena and attracted the attention of Bartlett Sher, the director of a number of recent productions for the Met, who added his signature to the petition. “I saw it as a chance for everyone who loves opera, and all of us who work in it, to stand up to a pig and a dictator, against a terrible position and a terrible man,” he told the Times, referring to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
However, the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, issued a statement in response to the petition that took a more neutral stand on the issue. “As an institution, the Met deplores the suppression of equal rights here or abroad,” the statement said. “But since our mission is artistic, it is not appropriate for our performances to be used by us for political purposes, no matter how noble or right the cause.”
The Met’s opening-night gala performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, which begins the opera company’s season, is scheduled for September 23.