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Singer with alleged Putin ties withdraws from upcoming BSO performances

Ildar Abdrazakov will no longer appear in the BSO’s May performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar.”

Boston Symphony HallCarlin Stiehl for The Boston Globe

Russian operatic bass Ildar Abdrazakov has withdrawn from upcoming engagements with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for “family reasons,” the orchestra said in a press release.

Abdrazakov, whose alleged ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin have come under scrutiny over the past month, will no longer appear in the BSO’s May performances of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, “Babi Yar.” He is also no longer involved in the BSO’s January 2024 performance of Shostakovich’s opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

The BSO is recording both works as part of its ongoing partnership with Deutsche Grammophon to record the orchestral music of Shostakovich.


In an e-mail to the Globe Wednesday, Abdrazakov’s representative said the singer had no additional comment at this time.

Abdrazakov, who in recent months has withdrawn abruptly from engagements at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala, is one of several Russian classical musicians whose political views have come under scrutiny in the year since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Russian sopranos Anna Netrebko and Hibla Gerzmava pulled out of upcoming engagements at the Met after the company stated it would no longer work “with artists or institutions that support Putin or are supported by him” until the “invasion and killing” have stopped.

Netrebko, whom the Met said did “not comply” with the company’s Putin policy, later condemned the war. No official reason was given for the exit of Gerzmava, who in 2014 signed a petition endorsing the annexation of Crimea.

Last month, Austria-based publication Opern News called attention to Abdrazakov’s performances at multiple domestic Russian government-sponsored events during the war.

Dmitry Smelansky, a Boston area coordinator for the anti-Putin group Arts Against Aggression, said the group sent a letter to the BSO last week protesting Abdrazakov’s scheduled appearances and shared the letter on social media.


BSO spokesperson Jan Devereux said she was unaware of the letter but knew of the organization’s social media posts criticizing Abdrazakov, adding the BSO “can’t comment or speculate on anything he might have been feeling about the political aspects.”

German bass-baritone Matthias Goerne is now scheduled to sing in the BSO’s performances and recording of the “Babi Yar” symphony, widely viewed as a symphonic condemnation of the Soviet Union’s refusal to recognize the Nazi murders of an estimated 100,000 people, including over 33,000 Jews, during the occupation of Kyiv.

Carnegie Hall’s website indicates Austrian bass Günther Groissböck will replace Abdrazakov in the BSO’s “Lady Macbeth” performance.

Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misspelled the last name of a Boston Symphony Orchestra spokesperson. The spokesperson’s name is Jan Devereux. The Globe regrets the error.

A.Z. Madonna can be reached at az.madonna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @knitandlisten.