Jamie Barton Apologizes for Using Culturally Appropriated Wigs in Teatro Real’s ‘Aida’

By Francisco Salazar

Following criticism regarding her wigs for the opening night production of “Aida” at the Teatro Real, Jamie Barton has apologized and has vowed never to use culturally approproiated wigs again.

In a statement on social media, the mezzo said, “I am listening, I am learning, and I am taking action. I will not perform in makeup that is meant to alter my race. My managers know this and any houses I perform at must understand and accept this. But I failed to understand and make it clear that I also cannot wear any wigs designed to accomplish the same goal. That is 100% on me.”

She continued, “I appreciate all of you who have supported this role debut for me *and* I appreciate everyone who has called out the wig for what it is. Myah Rose is right: ‘It is still conceptually Blackness-as-costume’ and it is ‘just a less obvious form of blackface.’ While I didn’t design the wig, I knew in my gut that it couldn’t be right, and I still sat in the makeup chair and let them pin it on my head, and I still took a photo of myself smiling in it.”

Barton also said, “My privilege swallowed up my courage. I tried my best to focus on the positive parts of this experience – a role that I’ve dreamt of singing for nearly 20 years. But singing is not the most important thing I do. Being a good human is. I was wrong to wear the wig. And I apologize to all of you. Teatro Real has now agreed to replace the wig. While they were not able to engineer a new one in time for tonight’s opening, this was the last time an appropriated hairstyle will be on my head, and this will be part of my contracts in the future.”

She concluded, “It is not fun to screw up in the public eye, but this is part of how I’ve chosen to live my life. I can’t promise to be a perfect human. But I can promise that I’ll continue to listen to you, and I’ll use what I learn to make better choices.”

The comments come after Barton came under fire when she posted pictures of her Amneris costume and praised the Teatro Real for banishing blackface.

However, commentators were quick to point out that her wig was a form of blackface. Myah Rose said, “No blackface but we’re still doing braids…okay I guess I’ll pick my battles. I’m sure you’ll be great.”

Meanwhile, stylegentdivo said, It doesn’t occur to them that’s it’s problematic, because of privilege, so it’s basically like screaming into a void trying to explain it. Looks like you are doing amazing things though! Come through with that talent.”

The criticism comes after Piotr Beczala and Carlos Alvarez, two of Barton’s colleagues criticized the blackface scandal that occurred in July after the Arena di Verona continued to use the makeup.

OperaWire has reached out to the Teatro Real and inquired if all the cast members will get new wigs.


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A post shared by Jamie Barton (@jbartonmezzo)