Amande Concerts drops ‘Russian State Opera’ brand after backlash

THE production company which has faced criticism after dozens of its “Russian State Opera” shows were cancelled has distanced itself from the country and pledged its support behind Ukraine.

Amande Concerts previously operated under the brand name which it said “acts as an umbrella for the presentation of artists of many different nationalities that have graduated from artistic institutions in Russia”.

However, it has taken the decision to drop the branding after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite insisting there is no link between Amande Concerts and the Russian ‘state’ as a political entity.

The UK-based group also confirmed it does not receive any public or commercial money from Russian organisations.

It comes after venues across the UK cancelled performances by the company in solidarity with Ukrainian civilians. Darlington Hippodrome had been due to host the Carmen and Aida productions this week – but scrapped them.  

The Northern Echo: A scene from the Russian Stage Opera production of Carmen. Picture: The Northern EchoA scene from the Russian Stage Opera production of Carmen. Picture: The Northern Echo

Read more: Darlington Hippodrome cancels Russian State Opera shows

A statement from the theatre read: “In light of the escalating situation in the Ukraine, Darlington Hippodrome will no longer be presenting the Russian State Opera productions of Carmen and Aida which were scheduled for Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 2 March.

“All ticket holders will automatically receive a full refund – there is no need to contact the theatre.

“We appreciate that the production company and artistes involved in these productions are in no way responsible for the actions of the Russian government and this decision was not an easy one to make.

“However, it is imperative that we share our support and solidarity towards the people of Ukraine during this difficult time.”

Amande Concerts had previously explained the reasoning behind its performance name as some venues chose to fulfil their scheduled performances. But the group has now provided further details on their position.

A statement from Amande read: “In light with the current tragic situation in Ukraine, we would like to clear a few unknown facts and write our position.

“It goes without saying that we strongly condemn the violence in Ukraine! Arts and politics are not connected, these are innocent people who are being affected. They cannot alter any political situation; however, they do feel the effect of them!

“This production is brought to you by an English company Amande Concerts Ltd, registered in UK, who have worked with the best of the best performing arts organisations from Eastern Europe for over twenty years.

“Russian State Opera” is a brand name established by a UK company, Amande Concerts. This brand acts as an umbrella for the presentation of artists of many different nationalities that have graduated from artistic institutions in Russia and countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Read more: This County Durham business man is travelling to Ukraine to help the war torn country

“We understand the potential for confusion this name causes, but there is no link between Amande Concerts to the Russian ‘state’ as a political entity.

“The ‘Russian State Opera’ is a UK registered trademark that has been used in the same context as for example English National Ballet. The brand name only relates to the geographical location of the performing theatres.

“We can confirm that Amande Concerts Ltd, does NOT receive any public or commercial money from Russian organisations. Amande Concerts has been self-sufficient WITHOUT any sponsoring support from ANY state or organisation, including Great Britain.

“Please also note that Amande Concerts brings ballet and opera productions from Eastern Europe, including Russia, which include various nationalities. We have in our casts, nationalities from all over the world including Russia, Belarus, Siberia, USA, Japan, France, Kazakhstan, Estonia and of course also Ukraine.

“The latter individuals who are also currently on tour in the UK with this Opera, still have family members currently in Ukraine and of course are even more affected by the current situation.”

Elsewhere, the Middlesbrough mayor has said it would be “completely wrong” to ban a ballet company with Russian dancers.

People have called for the Middlesbrough Theatre performance of Sleeping Beauty by the Russian National Ballet on October 8, to be cancelled following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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