The Arena di Verona has released a statement regarding Angel Blue’s decision to cancel her performances of “La Traviata” due to the blackface controversy.
The company said, “Fondazione Arena di Verona’s principal aim has always been to create peace through the spread and development of music and art. Culture creates bridges.”
The company added, “the current production of ‘Aida’ was premiered in 2002: 20 years ago, and, since then, performed in many opera season. For this reason, the statement that the current production of Aida is ‘recent’ is therefore incorrect. The 2022 Festival, including ‘Aida,’ was announced in September 2021.”
“The agreement between Fondazione Arena and Angel Blue, represented by her management, was reached almost a year ago, as for all other singers committed to the Festival. The 2022 première of ‘Aida’ took place on 18th June. This production’s characteristics were well known when Angel Blue knowingly committed herself to sing at the Arena. Every country has different roots, and their cultural and social structures developed along different historical and cultural paths. Sensibilities and approaches on the same subject might widely vary in different parts of the world,” the Arena continued.
The statement also said, “Common convictions have often been reached only after years of dialogue and mutual understanding. We have no reason nor intent whatsoever to offend and disturb anyone’s sensibility. We reach with deep emotions people from different countries, from different religious contexts, but for us all people are equal. We believe in dialogue, in effort to understand others’ point of view, in respect of consciously assumed artistic obligations. Angel, we and the audience of the Arena di Verona look forward to meeting you: it will be the opportunity for dialoguing in a constructive and concrete way, beginning with your reflections.”
The Arena di Verona concluded, “The digital world does not create the same empathy that only direct contact can bring about: just as in Theater. Contraposition, judgments, labeling, lack of dialogue only feed the culture of contrasts, which we totally reject, and we also appeal to everyone to work together to avoid divisions.”
The statement comes after the Arena di Verona has been under fire for its production of “Aida” which is currently using blackface and has already seen sopranos Liudmyla Monastryska and Anna Netrebko perform with the makeup. Sopranos Monica Conesa and Maria Teresa Leva are also set to perform in the makeup, while Latonia Moore is set to perform in one performance of the production.
The Arena di Verona previously told OperaWire that it could not change the production because it “decided to have a philological approach and as long as we don’t have a new production, we follow that philological approach. We must respect the historical truth.”