Picketers claim the victory as Gergiev and Netrebko are heckled at gala performance.

The controversial Metropolitan Opera Gala performance of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oneginhas gone ahead amidst turbulent scenes both inside and outside the opera house. “Putin, end your war on Russian gays!” shouted a man inside the packed black-tie event. He followed up with: “Anna, your silence is killing Russian gays! Valery, your silence is killing Russian gays!” before security removed him from the auditorium.

Outside the Lincoln Center a substantial picket line holding a 50-foot banner chanted slogans as patrons arrived. Met Opera boss Peter Gelb had repeatedly rejected requests from gay rights supporters to dedicate the performance to victims of Vladimir Putin’s oppressive anti-gay legislation voted through the Russian parliament earlier this year.

Both Mariinsky boss Valery Gergiev and leading soprano Anna Netrebko were vocal supporters of Putin’s reelection campaign and it was hoped that one or the other might make a statement on the subject. Netrebko has written on her facebook page: “As an artist, it is my great joy to collaborate with all of my wonderful colleagues — regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I have never and will never discriminate...