By: Emily Wang
Angel Blue, a soprano singer who had planned to perform in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” has announced that she will not be performing after learning that an earlier production of “Aida” had performers use dark makeup.
Anna Netrobko, a Russian soprano, posted photos of herself on Instagram in blackface. Blue, who is black, decided that she could not perform with an institution that supported the use of dark makeup. In the United States, the practice is widely known to be racist.
During the mid-19th century, white men would put on blackface using a cork and polish, then proceed to dress in tattered clothes and talk in a stereotypical black accent. The actors would perform acts or dances that were meant to be entertainment for whites, but it was humiliating and offense to the black community. The shows made black people look lazy and foolish.
“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 says on an Instagram post. “It is offensive, humiliating, and outright racist. Full stop.”
When the Aerna di Verona responded to Blue’s post, they defended the decision Blue made and questioned why Blue never left sooner. The company officials still hope to discuss the situation with Blue saying, “We have no reason nor intent whatsoever to offend and disturb anyone’s sensibility.”
Many people who take part in the opera have applauded her for standing up for herself. A fellow black opera singer, Ryan Speedo Green, acknowledged Blue for “standing up for us.”
Green says, “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,”