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American Soprano Angel Blue decides not to perform at Italian Festival

By: William Tian

The American Grammy-award winning soprano Angel Blue announced on July 14th she was going to withdraw from Verdi’s “La Traviata” at the Arena di Verona. She withdrew after realizing the earlier production of “Aida” at the festival included performers in blackface.

Earlier this year, Russian soprano Anna Netrebko posted herself in dark makeup on her Instagram, saying she had played an Ethiopian princess in “Aida” in 2018. After Blue saw the Instagram post, she was upset. She could not associate herself with an institution that believes that this kind of practice is appropriate. She viewed it as racist and dehumanizing. “Let me be perfectly clear: 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,” Blue wrote.

Many people are proud of Blue’s decision to withdraw. Her followers on social media sent messages of support. Opera singer Ryan Speedo Green thanked Blue on a social media comment. “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,” Green wrote.

Instagram posts are filled with hateful comments calling out Netrebko. The singer had made the decision to create a blackface look herself using tanning salons after the theater company refused to put dark make up on her. The spokesperson from Arena di Verona said that “Aida” was restaging the venue’s 2002 production which was “made when these sensitive topics were not such an issue.” He also added that it was very hard to change historical productions.

Recent years, it has come to light that many politicians and comedians, and celebrities have worn blackface as well. This includes the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Virginia governor Ralph Northam, television host Jimmy Fallon, and singer Jason Aldean. They were being criticized for being racist, and 2019 Post opinion piece called it a “global problem”


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