“State of the Union,” an opera about inequality was supposed to premiere in Latvia last March, but Latvian Radio Choir conductor Kaspars Putniņš withdrew his agreement to perform the work seven weeks before the premiere, citing concerns about its political stance, ERR said.
The news portal then quoted correspondence between Putniņš and composer Eugene Birman - a US citizen who is himself of Latvian-Russian descent.
“The main reason is the message itself... I perfectly understand the skepticism of the young generation about what is happening in the world. At the same time the people in my part of the world have never had a better life than today. I am an ex-Soviet soldier. I am truly thankful for the life that I can have now in comparison to 30 years ago, and I am sick of leftist nostalgia,” Putniņš wrote.
“I never understood Putniņš’s decision,” Birman told ERR. “I had a Latvian conductor telling me the piece wasn’t pro-capitalist enough?”
“State of the Union” will now premiere in the United States, in Marquette, Michigan, with a final performance on Oct. 6 in New York – at Trinity Church on Wall Street.
Later Putniņš told LSM that there were other reasons for his refusal to partake in the opera.
"The ideas of the young composer and his librettist were vaguely formed both in terms of content and notation," said Putniņš, claiming that these aspects made him "fairly critical against the work".
Putniņš also told LSM that the ERR quote was freely adapted from a personal exchange between him and a composer. Furthermore, that exchange included discussion about the new work and the staging of it.
"Pulled out of the context, [the quote] gives a very deformed picture over why I chose not to play this work, and it depicts my attitude towards the topic in a very imprecise manner," said Putniņš.
Birman and librettist Scott Diel are the team behind the opera Nostra Culpa which attracted widespread coverage with its libretto based on angry Twitter exchanges between Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman.
You can see it performed in Latvia by Sinfonietta Riga below.