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AMERICAN SOPRANO WITHDRAWS FROM ITALIAN FESTIVAL
By: Benjamin Wang
Angel Blue, an American soprano, declared that she would not participate in an opera festival in Italy after finding out that a previous performance included the use of blackface. The artist posted about her decision on Instagram.
“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,” she wrote. “It is offensive, humiliating, and outright racist. Full stop.”
In the U.S., blackface has been looked down upon for many years and is considered racist and disrespectful. Recently, multiple political figures and influencers come under fire for wearing blackface, including Justin Trudeau, Ralph Northam, and Jimmy Fallon. However, in Europe, and specifically Russia, blackface is still practiced and supported.
Blue’s resignation came after Russian soprano Anna Netrebko posted images of herself wearing black makeup to play the role of an Ethiopian princess. Netrebko says she believes the use of blackface preserves theatrical culture. She also showed support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She has received backlash for both statements. After she was denied permission to use dark makeup in a 2018 production of Aida, Netrebko went to a tanning salon to darken her skin.
The Arena di Verona, the venue at which Blue was scheduled to perform, defended her decision and commented.
“We have no reason nor intent whatsoever to offend and disturb anyone’s sensibility,” the organization said in a statement.
Many other opera stars supported Blue’s choice, including Ryan Speedo Green, who thanked Blue “for standing up for us.”
“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 said.