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A Soprano Decides Not to Perform at an Italian Festival Because of Blackface
By: Zhile Chen
On Thursday, an American soprano named Angel Blue announced that she decided not to perform in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” which is being performed at the Arena di Verona in Italy, after seeing that one of the productions, “Aida”, had performers featuring blackface. Blue’s sudden decision came after a Russian soprano named Anna Netrebko shared photos of herself wearing dark makeup while playing the role of an Ethiopian princess.
Blue became offended at this example of blackface. Blue then continued to say that she could never associate herself with an organization that used blackface, as blackface is very racist and offensive.
She believes that “the use of blackface under any circumstances, artistic or otherwise, is a deeply misguided practice based on archaic theatrical traditions which have no place in modern society,” and should not be continued.
The reason why blackface is considered offensive is because white people put on black makeup to portray a caricature of black person.
A spokesperson from Arena di Verona said that they used blackface in “Aida” because it was a restaging of their 2002 production, which used blackface. Also, the spokesperson said that it was difficult to change historical productions.
After hearing about Blue’s decision to cancel performing, the Arena di Verona demanded to know why Blue hadn’t decided to quit earlier as the performance details was released to her months earlier.
However, most of the opera world supported Blue’s decision and sent her messages saying so. One such supporter was the opera singer Ryan Green, who thanked her for “standing up for us,” writing “this practice needs to stop and all the artist/administrations who support it should be put on blast so their support of racist practice can be brought to light.”
Source: The Washington Post American Soprano withdraws from Italian Festival that used Blackface and Google.