- A slew of orchestras and festivals have canceled engagements with Valery Gergiev.
- The Russian conductor refuses to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.
- Gergiev has known Putin for three decades and has proven fiercely loyal in the past.
Milan's La Scala opera house said Wednesday it had dismissed Russian conductor Valery Gergiev from upcoming performances of a Tchaikovsky opera, following his refusal to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.
A slew of orchestras and festivals in Europe and the United States, including the Philharmonie de Paris and Carnegie Hall, has already cancelled engagements with Gergiev, who is close to Russian president Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, La Scala said it had sent a letter to Gergiev on Tuesday night informing him that he would be replaced for the March performances of Pique Dame, which premiered last month.
It was also the 68-year-old's second dismissal by La Scala, which on Tuesday replaced him for a 7 March concert with the opera's music director, Riccardo Chailly.
Considered one of the world's most excellent conductors, Gergiev was fired on Tuesday by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, serving as principal conductor since 2015.
Following Russia's invasion on Thursday, Gergiev received a letter "inviting him to speak out in favour of a peaceful resolution of the conflict," said La Scala.
The decision was taken in agreement with Milan's mayor and the president of the opera foundation, it said.
"Not having received any response six days later and three days from the next performance, another solution was inevitable," it said.
The next performance of the opera is scheduled for Saturday.
Gergiev will be replaced by 27-year-old Russian Timur Zangiev, La Scala said.
Gergiev has known Putin for three decades and proven fiercely loyal in the past, including over the 2014 annexation of Crimea.