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Blue Steps Out of Show After Offended By Blackface
Updated: Jul 26, 2022
By: Elaine Wang
On July 14th, opera singer Angel Blue posted on Instagram that she refuses to take part in her planned debut in Verdi’s “La Traviata” at Italy’s Arena di Verona. She ultimately came to this decision after fellow cast member Russian soprano Anna Netrebko posted pictures of herself wearing blackface makeup on Instagram.
In recent years, many important figures across the states, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Jimmy Fallon and Jason Aldean, have been harshly criticized for wearing blackface in the past. In 2019, The Post published an opinion piece stating how the fact that blackface is still being practiced in countries like Europe and Russia is a “global problem”.
On Instagram, Blue wrote, “Dear Friends, Family, and Opera Lovers, 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’. …It is offensive, humiliating, and outright racist. Full stop.”
Many of her colleagues including Golda Schultz, Russell Thomas, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Ryan McKinny, Jamie Barton, J’Nai Bridges, and Lise Davidsen, supported her decision to withdraw from the show. In a comment, fellow Black opera singer Ryan Speedo Green thanked Blue “for standing up to us”.
However, Blue was also criticized by legendary opera star Grace Bumbry, who commented how she disapproved of Blue’s choice to step out. Her comments went viral, with many sharing them on social media platforms, including Azerbaijani singer Yusif Eyvazov.
Bumbry commented, “My dear Angel, I read your publication and was thoroughly shocked at your point of view. For all of my 50 years of Opera singing I have always used white face, when necessary, and blackface, when necessary, as well. …I am sorry that you will not be singing the Traviata in Verona, because I heard you sing the role about three years ago, and vocally you were wonderful. Is there no way that you could recall that decision? Your friend always, Grace B.”
As of now, the Arena di Verona still has not announced a replacement for Blue, who was supposed to perform on July 22 and 30. She is still listed for performances of "La Traviata” on the program’s website.