Saturday, January 28, 2023

American soprano Angel Blue quits Italian Opera over Blackface Performers

Soprano Angel Blue won’t play in Italy this month because blackface was used on the same stage this summer.

The U.S. singer tweeted on her angeljoyblue Instagram page that she will not perform “La Traviata” at Verona’s Arena this month because “Aida” included blackface singers.

She called “archaic” theater “offensive, demeaning, and racist.”

Angel Blue was still listed as Violetta in “La Traviata” on the Arena’s website Saturday.

The theater hoped Blue, who is black, would meet with Arena authorities for a “conversation” The Arena said it had “neither cause nor purpose to offend or violate anyone’s sensibilities.”

Civil rights groups have long decried blackface as demeaning Blacks by promoting racial stereotypes.

The Arena is staging “Aida” based on a 2002 staging by late Italian director Franco Zeffirelli. This production has blackface.

“Dear Friends, Family, and Opera Lovers,” she began. I won’t be singing La Traviata at Arena di Verona this summer.

The singer remarked that Arena’s decision to apply blackface makeup in “Aida” was “extremely foolish” and “has no place in modern culture.” Offensive, insulting, and racist.”

She stated that she couldn’t “in good conscience identify myself with this institution.”

Angel Blue “knowingly committed herself to sing in the Arena” despite “well-known” Zeffirelli staging “characteristics”

The theater hoped her protest would increase cross-cultural understanding and educate Italians.

The Arena of Verona Foundation noted, “Every country’s cultural and social systems developed along diverse historical and cultural trajectories.” Years of debate and mutual understanding often lead to shared convictions.

The Arena statement emphasized communication “to comprehend others’ perspectives, in respect of creative commitments.”

Contraposition, judgments, labeling, and lack of conversation foster a culture of contrasts, which we reject, the statement stated. It urged cooperation “to avoid splits.”

It’s not the first time a Verona soprano has protested blackface makeup in “Aida.” White opera singer Tamara Wilson opposed darkening her face to play an Ethiopian woman in the Arena opera in 2019.

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