Tchaikovsky: Gay = Fiddler: Jewish

When New York City’s Metropolitan Opera opened its season last Monday with Eugene Onegin and a Russian-themed gala celebration, activists protesting Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay laws picketed out front and shouted from inside the opera house. “Putin, end your war on Russian gays!” one man called out as the lights began to dim, the New York Times reported. Then the protester addressed diva Anna Netrebko and conductor Valery Gergiev, of the visiting Mariinsky Theater of St Petersburg. Both artists openly supported Vladimir Putin in his last election.  “Anna, your silence is killing Russian gays!” cried the protester. “Valery, your silence is killing Russian gays!” Dire, indeed, as the situation for gays and lesbians in Russia has become — as Masha Gessen, for one, has movingly attested —  the Russian stars had little to say by way of response. The Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, however, in an op-ed for Bloomberg News, upheld the Met’s role as a purely artistic institution that should not be sullied by politics, even as he denounced Russia’s homophobic laws and climate. Printouts of Gelb’s article were inserted into the evening’s program. “Although Russia may officially be in denial about Tchaikovsky’s sexuality, we’re not,” he wrote. “The Met is proud to present Russia’s great gay composer. That’s a message in itself.” Meanwhile, Russia’s culture minister, insisted that Tchaikovsky wasn’t gay at all. Right, quips  Pablo Helgueara in this cartoon for NPR. And Fiddler isn’t Jewish.