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American Soprano Singer Quits Italian Festival that Condones Blackface

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

By: Cedric Wu

The American soprano Angel Blue announced last Thursday that she would not go to the Italian Singing Festival Arena di Verona. The singer's decision was made after Russian singer Anna Netrebko posted images of herself in dark make-up on Instagram to play the role of an Ethiopian Princess.

Blue, who is a black singer, posted on Instagram recently that she could not willingly go to a festival that supports such racist and dehumanizing practices. “It is offensive, humiliating, and outright racist,” she wrote on the post.

The incident comes at an untimely moment for Netrebko as she recently showed support for Putin’s controversial decision to invade Ukraine. She canceled numerous performances in Europe and the U.S after not complying with requests to revoke her support for the invasion.

Netrebko has been expressing beliefs that the dark make-up upholds theatrical tradition, intending to use it in her performance.

A spokesperson from Arena di Verona backed Netrebko up telling Operawire, a Newsletter based around singing, that the play, called “Aida”, was “made when these sensitive topics were not such an issue.” The spokesperson also added that “it is very hard to change” such historical productions.

Arena di Verona recently issued a statement that continued to support their decision to keep the original production. The statement mentioned festival officials meeting up with Blue in order to resolve the issue while keeping the dark make-up. Despite Blue seemingly resigning from her act, she still remains listed as a performer on the venue’s website.

Many people in the opera community applaud Blue for her actions. Fellow opera singer Ryan Speedo Green, who is also Black, thanked blue “for standing up for us” in a recent comment.

“This practice needs to stop and all the artists/administrations who support it should be put on blast so their support of racist practice can be brought to light,” he wrote.

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