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Valery Gergiev is one of the world's best-known conductors, but a US tour that could have showcased Russia's soft power at a time of tensions with the West has been marred by protests. Gergiev had conducted the music and soprano Anna Netrebko sang the title role in the one-act opera. The two are among Russia's most famous contemporary musicians -- and have both vocally supported President Vladimir Putin. Gergiev, who heads the Mariinsky Theater in Putin's home city of Saint Petersburg and is also the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, faced protesters in recent days outside performances at New York's Carnegie Hall and Brooklyn Academy of Music, as well as at the University of Michigan.