Continued from page 1

“Obviously, if it were not safe we wouldn’t be here,” Gelb said. “I feel very strongly that we have a responsibility to be here. I think we are setting an example by being here for the global artistic community and for the Japanese public.”

Gelb said he hoped the Japanese would not take the withdrawals as an insult. “They are great artists and I hope the Japanese public won’t think less of them,” he said.

The tour, the Met’s seventh in Japan, begins Saturday and runs through June 19.

Four singers _ soprano Marina Poplavskaya, along with tenors Marcelo Alvarez, Rolando Villazon and Alexey Dolgov _ will fill the hole left by Netrebko and Calleja.

The Met will be performing performing “La Boheme,” “Don Carlo,” and “Lucia di Lammermoor.”