“Dear Friends, Family, and Opera Lovers,” began the soprano’s Instagram post. “I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that I will not be singing La Traviata at Arena di Verona this summer as planned.”
Referring to Arena’s decision to use blackface makeup in “Aida,″ the singer wrote: “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. It is offensive, humiliating and outright racist.”
She wrote that she couldn’t “in good conscience associate myself with an institution which continues this practice.”
The theater’s statement said “Angel Blue knowingly committed herself to sing at the Arena” even though the “characteristics” of the 2002 Zeffirelli staging were “well known.”
Still, the theater stressed its hope that her protest would ultimately improve understanding between cultures as well as educate Italian audiences.
“Every country has different roots, and their cultural and social structures developed along different historical and cultural paths,″ said the statement by the Arena of Verona Foundation. “Common convictions have often been reached only after years of dialogue and mutual understanding.”
The Arena statement stressed dialogue, “in effort to understand others’ point of view, in respect of consciously assumed artistic obligations.”
“Contraposition, judgments, labeling, lack of dialogue only feed the culture of contrasts, which we totally reject,” said the statement, appealing for cooperation “to avoid divisions.”
It’s not the first time that the use of blackface makeup for a staging of “Aida” in Verona has sparked a soprano’s protest. In 2019, opera singer Tamara Wilson, who is white, protested against darkening her face to sing the title character of an Ethiopian woman in the opera at the Arena.