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After Italian Festival Uses Blackface, Angel Blue Cancels Performance

By: Stephanie Fu

In an Instagram post, Anerican soprano singer, Angel Blue, announced that she would be pulling out of Verdi’s “La Traviata” opera at the Arena di Verona in Italy after learning of the use of blackface in the previous production of “Aida.” Her decision was also influenced by the recent posts made by Russian soprano Anna Netrebko in which she posted herself wearing dark makeup to play her role as an Ethiopian princess.

Blue’s Instagram post read: “I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I will not be singing La Traviata at Arena di Verona this summer as planned. As many of you know, Arena di Verona recently made the decision to utilize blackface makeup in a recent production of Aida.” She described the use of blackface as a “deeply misguided practice” and “offensive, humiliating, and outright racist.”

In Blue’s Instagram post, Singer Ryan Speedo Green wrote in the comments, “This practice needs to stop an all the artist/administrations who support it should be put on blast so their support of racist practices can be brought to light.”

Blackface—a practice of using makeup to imitate the appearance of a black person— has a long and controversial history in theater, stretching back to the 1800s. Parts of Europe and Russia utilize blackface now, even though it is considered offensive and racist.

Anna Netrebko, who is still attempting to rebuild her reputation after her support of Vladimir Putin caused criticism and disapproval from the public, has been a long-standing supporter and advocate of wearing blackface, believing that it helps maintain theatrical tradition. Her post consisted of pictures of herself where she wore long black braids and dark makeup covering her face, chest, and arms. She received more than 1000 comments calling her out.

After Blue’s withdrawal, “La Traviata’s” company officials extended the singer an invitation to discuss the issue, claiming to have “no reason nor intent whatsoever to offend an disturb anyone’s sensibility.”

Many of Blue’s fellow opera world singers actively supported her decision, and hopefully, with enough awareness, this practice can be eliminated from the theater.

Link to Article: Angle Blue withdraws from performance because company used blackface - The Washington Post.pdf

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