Now that the Toronto Symphony Orchestra has dropped concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa from their April performances, we must sift through a glut of equivocations, confused analogies and downright lies from her corner. Ms. Lisitsa Tweets from April 6 attempt to reassure everyone that “I guess my anti-war stance makes them mad”, this ban by TSO is “…freedom retreating and totalitarian thinking advancing”, “Would US orchestra ban a musician criticizing Bush or Iraqi War?”, “TSO is punishing ValLisitsa for wanting peace for her own people” and so on. As reported by WQXR, Ms. Lisitsa “wrote in a rambling, 1,000 word post” that basically she was censored “because I exercised the right to free speech.”
One of her followers asked on her @ValLisitsa Twitter page: “Why does the Toronto Symphony want to sanction her?” Good question. While Ms. Lisitsa would like everyone to believe she is fighting the good fight against the anti-art and anti-free speech troglodyte establishment, the actual truth is much more disturbing.
On August 28, 2014 Ms. Lisitsa Tweeted despicable racist commentary with photos of African villagers juxtaposed with Ukrainian schoolteachers. Her snide remarks scoffed at African stereotypes because they wear “tribal dress” as being inferior and unworthy of “Europe”.
Neither does the Jewish community escape Ms. Lisitsa’s insensitive polemics – her Tweet from June 1, 2014: “[World Grandmaster Chess Champion Gary] Kasparov needs to be reminded that his adorable western democracies enthusiastically deported his people [sic] to gas chambers”. (Does she mean the United States sent victims to gas chambers?)
Ms. Lisitsa disingenuously claims to “love her country [Ukraine]”, yet she posts things like: “Odesa was, is and will be Soviet”, “Russia sent 1,000 men into Ukraine?.. why not send 100 times more and finish it in 3 days?” amidst a daily stream of vulgar invective against all things Ukrainian. (Surely she can understand the difference between her “beloved” Ukraine defending itself against Russian invasion and the US sending troops into Vietnam and Iraq?). Examples of Lisitsa’s “love” for Ukraine are abundant on her twitter account:
Even more disturbing are Ms. Lisitsa’s Twitter site contributions to a much wider Russian propaganda offensive, including a Moscow far-right racist sponsored art exhibit seen in Berlin and New York called “Material Evidence.” Ms. Lisitsa’s “confession” letter said she had been “leading a double life”. Now that she has dropped all pretense and stands four-square behind her hate-speech Twitter activities which anyone can read, it will be up to the public to decide.
Will the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall now follow the Toronto Symphony’s example and demand some transparency and honesty from its own “controversial” artists: conductor Valery Gergiev and soprano Anna Netrebko?