The Metropolitan Opera is partnering with the Polish National Opera and the Ukrainian government to organize a tour of Ukrainian musicians throughout Europe and America this summer, the opera companies announced Monday.
The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra will culminate its tour with Aug. 18 and 19 concerts at Lincoln Center and an Aug. 20 finale at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
“Music can be a powerful weapon against oppression. This tour is meant to defend Ukrainian art and its brave artists as they fight for the freedom of their country,” said Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb and Waldemar Dabrowski, the director of the Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera, in a joint statement.
Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson will lead the orchestra, joined by musicians from Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and other regions of Ukraine. Soprano Lieudmyla Monastryrska, who is portraying the title role of the opera “Turandot” with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center this April and May, will also join the company.
“I wanted to bring the best orchestral musicians of Ukraine together, from both inside and outside of their country, in a proud display of artistic unity,” Wilson said. “I look forward to leading these gifted musicians across Europe and to the United States. This tour is an expression of love for their homeland and to honor those who have died and have suffered so much.”
The tour is being coordinated with Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Culture. Funds raised from the performances will go to support Ukrainian artists, the orchestra said, and they are encouraging donations to the Ministry of Culture at https://donate.arts.gov.ua/en.
Other backers of the tour include the New York-based Ford Foundation and former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, both multi-billion dollar organizations according to recent tax filings. The Scottish government is sponsoring the Edinburgh performance, the orchestra said.
In March, the Metropolitan Opera cut ties with Russian soprano Anna Netrebko after she refused to repudiate her support for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera,” said Gelb in a statement at the time. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.”