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Soprano Angel Blue Pulls Out Of Italy Opera Over Blackface Concerns

Soprano Angel Blue Pulls Out Of Italy Opera Over Blackface Concerns

Angel Blue, a soprano, announced her withdrawal from an opera performance in Italy this month because the venue allowed artists to wear blackface when staging a number of works throughout the summer.

According to The Associated Press, the African-American singer said on Instagram that she will no longer appear in the “La Traviata” opera at Verona’s Arena because the venue allowed artists to wear blackface during the staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Aida.”

“The use of blackface under any circumstances, artistic or otherwise, is a highly misguided practice rooted in old theatrical traditions that have no place in modern society,” Angel Blue wrote in response to the theater’s decision.

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“It’s disrespectful, embarrassing, and downright racist,” she went on, adding that she couldn’t “in good conscience affiliate myself with an institution that maintains this practice.”

On July 22 and 30, the artist was slated to perform at the Arena. She was supposed to play Violetta in the opera “La Traviata.” Her scheduled performance, however, was not removed from the Arena’s website following her statement.

In a statement, the Arena of Verona Foundation said the singer “knowingly committed herself to sing at the Arena,” despite the fact that the “characteristics” of the blackface opera performance were “well known.”

“Every country has various roots, and its cultural and social systems evolved along different historical and cultural trajectories,” according to the statement. “Common convictions are frequently attained only after years of debate and mutual understanding.”

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The group also highlighted the importance of conversation, stating that it was required “to understand others’ points of view, in respect of consciously assumed artistic commitments.”

“Contradictions, judgments, labeling, and a lack of conversation only create a culture of contrasts, which we completely reject,” the Arena added, adding that cooperation was required “to avoid divisions.”

According to The Associated Press, this isn’t the first time a soprano has spoken out against the use of blackface during the production of “Aida” in Verona. Tamara Wilson, an opera singer, objected to her face being darkened in order to play the character of an Ethiopian vocalist at a performance at the Arena in 2019. Wilson is a white man.

According to a BET brief on the issue, blackface evolved from minstrel shows in the 1830s. White actors darkened their faces with shoe polish or greasepaint, painted exaggerated red lips with makeup, and played stereotypically dumb, foolish, or dangerous Black characters, such as the “happy darky on the plantation” or the “dandified coon.” The overarching goal of these concerts was to amuse White slave owners, who were amused by acts insulting slaves and free Blacks during the nineteenth century.

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From the small stage to the big cinema, blackface became extremely popular. Only during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s did blackface become unpopular. But by then, it had spread over the world, particularly in many Asian and European cultures where actors still put on masks to perform.

Wearing blackface is nearly blasphemy in the United States. It is heavily criticized because it recalls the tragic past of slavery and segregation.

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