Soprano Angel Blue pulls out of Italian opera after ‘humiliating’ blackface use

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Soprano Angel Blue has announced that she will not perform in an opera in Italy after the theater used blackface in a previous production.

In a post on Instagram, the US singer said she is pulling out of “La Traviata” at Verona’s Arena after the Verdi opera “Aida” used blackface, which she described as an “archaic” theater practice that is “offensive, humiliating, and outright racist.”

“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,” Blue said.

FILE – Angel Blue performs during a rehearsal of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” at the Metropolitan Opera, on Sept. 24, 2021, in New York.
(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

“As many of you know, Arena di Verona recently made the decision to utilize blackface makeup in a recent production of Aida,” she added. “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.”

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“It is offensive, humiliating, and outright racist,” she said.

American soprano Angel Blue (as 'Bess,' standing right) and baritone Eric Owens (as 'Porgy,' seated far left with arms folded) perform at the final dress rehearsal prior to the premiere of the new Metropolitan Opera, Dutch National Opera, and English National Opera co-production of George and Ira Gershwin's and DuBose and Dorothy Heyward's 'Porgy and Bess' at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, New York, New York, September 19, 2019.

American soprano Angel Blue (as ‘Bess,’ standing right) and baritone Eric Owens (as ‘Porgy,’ seated far left with arms folded) perform at the final dress rehearsal prior to the premiere of the new Metropolitan Opera, Dutch National Opera, and English National Opera co-production of George and Ira Gershwin’s and DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s ‘Porgy and Bess’ at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center, New York, New York, September 19, 2019.
(Photo by Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images)

“La Traviata” is scheduled for July 22 and 30, where the US singer was set to perform the role of Violetta.

Blue added: “I was so looking forward to making my house debut at Arena di Verona singing one of my favorite operas, but I cannot in good conscience associate myself with an institution which continues this practice. Thank you for your understanding, and to all who have shown support and sensitivity to me and my fellow artists of color.”

The theater released a statement saying the opera’s use of blackface at the 2002 production was “well known” before Blue “committed herself to sing at the Arena.”

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“Every country has different roots, and their cultural and social structures developed along different historical and cultural paths,” the Arena of Verona Foundation statement. “Common convictions have often been reached only after years of dialogue and mutual understanding.”

Actors Angel Blue and Will Liverman perform a scene during a rehearsal for Terence Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," at the Metropolitan Opera on September 24, 2021 in New York.

Actors Angel Blue and Will Liverman perform a scene during a rehearsal for Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” at the Metropolitan Opera on September 24, 2021 in New York.
(Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

The statement encouraged artists and spectators to continue to have dialogue “in [an] effort to understand others’ point of view, in respect of consciously assumed artistic obligations.”

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“Contraposition, judgments, labeling, lack of dialogue only feed the culture of contrasts, which we totally reject,” the statement added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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