Czech politicians slam boycott of Russian art and culture after Tchaikovsky’s opera canceled

The Czech National Theater decided not to perform Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s opera “Cherevichki,” a move earning criticism from some in Czech politics

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Josef Kopecký
The National Theater of the Czech Republic in Prague. (The National Theater/Facebook)

Czech politicians have voiced their discomfort at the National Theater’s decision to cancel a performance of Tchaikovsky’s opera, “Cherevichki.”

Confronting the Czech Minister of Culture Martin Baxa, the ANO movement MP Ivana Mádlová questioned the extent to which Russian culture will be canceled in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Are we going to get rid of the books by Russian classics Dostoevsky, Pushkin, or Gogol? Will we destroy the pictures of Russian realists?” Mádlová asked the government minister on Thursday.

The cancellation of the opera piece in Czechia comes after a wave of anti-Russian sentiment gripped a number of Western countries, which has resulted in a Russian orchestra conductor being fired in Munich, a course on the famed Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky being canceled at an Italian university, and platforms like Facebook relaxing its rules to allow Russians to be threatened with death in a number of countries — just to name a few examples.

The Czech MP said she was also interested in whether the 1964 Russian communist fantasy film “Jack Frost” (Morozko), which is enormously popular in Czechia, will also be banned.

The ANO politician began her argument by expressing her unequivocal agreement that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the aggressor in the conflict in Ukraine, and supported the Chamber of Deputies resolution that expresses this standpoint.

“However, minister, I never thought that we would punish Russian artists of the second half of the 19th century, who are so precious to the whole world and have nothing to do with Putin’s war aggression, for Putin’s actions, and apply the principle of collective guilt,” Mádlová explained.

“Is Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the author of the world-famous ballets Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty, to pay for Putin’s war aggression today?” Mádlová asked the culture minister.

Culture minister would decide differently but supports the National Theater right to operate how it sees fit

According to Baxa, though, the decision of the National Theater is completely legitimate, and it is up to the National Theater which works will or will not be performed. He explained that it is not for the government to intervene in the affairs of a private institution.

“The National Theater has joined the call to support Ukraine. For this reason, among other things, it decided not to perform Petr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s opera Cherevichki, which it planned to perform next season,” Baxa explained.

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