Angel Blue plans to leave an opera after the venue hosts a blackface performance: NPR

Soprano Angel Blue will not perform in an opera in Italy this month as blackface has been used to stage another production this summer.

Jason DeCrow / AP

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Jason DeCrow / AP

Soprano Angel Blue will not perform in an opera in Italy this month as blackface has been used to stage another production this summer.

Jason DeCrow / AP

ROME – Soprano Angel Blue said she will not perform in an opera in Italy this month because blackface was used to stage another production this summer on the same stage.

The American singer posted a note on her angeljoyblue Instagram page saying that she will be leaving “La Traviata” at Verona’s Arena this month as the theater recently hosted another Giuseppe Verdi opera. , “Aida,” featuring performers in black.

She considers such use of “archaic” theatrical practices “outright insulting, humiliating and racist.”

However, Angel Blue is still listed on Saturday on Arena’s website as singing Violetta in “La Traviata” on July 22 and 30.

The theater said it hoped that Blue, who is black, would accept an invitation to meet Arena officials for a “dialogue” on the matter. The Arena, in a statement on Friday, said it “has no reason and no intention of offending and disturbing anyone’s sensibilities.”

For decades, U.S. civil rights organizations have for decades openly denounced black people – in which white performers blacken their faces – as degrading black people by introduce and reinforce racial stereotypes.

The Arena this summer hosted performances of “Aida” based on the staging of the 2002 classic opera by Italian director Franco Zeffirelli, who passed away in 2019. That staging used blackface.

“Dear friends, family and Opera lovers,” began the soprano’s Instagram post. “I have come to the regrettable conclusion that I will not sing La Traviata at the Arena di Verona this summer as planned.”

Referring to Arena’s decision to use black face makeup in “Aida”, the singer wrote: “Let me be completely clear: the use of black face in any circumstance, artistic or otherwise, is a deeply erroneous practice based on ancient theatrical traditions that have no place in modern society. It is insulting, humiliating and outright racist.”

She wrote that she could not “with good conscience associate herself with an organization that continues this act.”

The theater’s statement said “Angel Blue intentionally committed himself to sing at the Arena” although the “characteristics” of the 2002 Zeffirelli staging were “well known”.

However, the theater emphasizes the hope that her demonstration will eventually improve cross-cultural understanding as well as educate Italian audiences.

The Arena of Verona Foundation statement said: “Each country has different origins, and their social and cultural structures evolved along different historical and cultural paths.

Arena’s statement emphasizes dialogue, “in an effort to understand the other person’s point of view, on consciously accepted artistic obligations.”

“The excuses, judgments, labels, lack of dialogue only foster a culture of contrasts, which we completely reject,” the statement said, calling for cooperation “to avoid division.” .

This is not the first time that the use of black face makeup for the staging of “Aida” in Verona has sparked an outcry among the sopranos. In 2019, opera singer Tamara Wilson, who is white, protested against blackening her face to sing the main character, an Ethiopian woman, in her opera at Arena.

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