The Queen Sonja Singing Competition, named after 'Queen Sonja' of the 'Royal House of Norway' has officially announced they are not allowing certain singers to participate due to their race and nationality if they are Russian or Belarusian. This is clear discrimination and as the arts, we should be leading the way for bridging gaps and allowing all people from all cultures, creeds, beliefs, race, gender, and nationalities to participate.
A statement from the Queen Sonja competition regarding this collective act of harsh discrimination reads,
“The competition board endorses Norway’s condemnation of Russia’s illegal and brutal attacks on Ukraine. The competition stands in solidarity with Ukraine and its citizens. Applications from singers with Russian or Belarusian citizenship will therefore not be accepted.” -Queen Sonja Singing Competition
Regardless of acts by a nation's leaders, individual artists of that particular nation or race should not be discriminated against and held accountable for the acts committed by others. Is it the fault of an average Russian or Belarusian citizen that Putin has committed an act of war against Ukraine? We should try to have empathy and compassion on others and put ourselves in their shoes. For example, as an American citizen, what if American singers were discriminated against and not allowed to enter other countries to sing based on our president's actions? That would be entirely unreasonable and unacceptable to force such harsh consequences on average citizens who are already suffering being in the midst of war and tragedy- none of it their doing or their choice. If asked, most singers and artists are against all forms of war. Just as Anna Netrebko spoke out openly against the war and still was discriminated against, now young up-and-coming singers are also having to pay the price simply for having a certain race or nationality. Unfair and unjust does not even begin to describe this level of evil and mistreatment to our fellow human beings.
We will be holding these opera houses, leaders, and arts organizations accountable for their actions against their fellow man, and it will not go unnoticed or undocumented.
We need to be on the right side of history and stand up against discrimination in all forms, regardless of what the overall narrative and consensus is and what is deemed popular at the time.
-Diana Amati, Opera Culture News & Magazine