Metropolitan Opera Responds to Criticism, Vows to Do More for Racial Equality

By David Salazar
(Credit: Jonathan Tichler / Met Opera)

The Metropolitan Opera has published a statement addressing its need to do more in favor of racial equality while responding to much of the criticism that has come its way over the past few weeks.

Last week, the company put out a statement in support of Black Lives and against racism. The statement, while met with some support, was also met with criticism over the company’s practices of producing operas that used racially insensitive makeup or propagated stereotypical portrayals of different cultures.

A petition was recently launched demanding that the company withdraw On-Demand streams that feature “artists in racially-insensitive makeup.”

On Sunday, the company also received criticism over the streaming of a recent production of “Otello;” while the production by Bartlett Sher does not feature racially insensitive makeup, many users took issue with the racist history associated with the opera.

“We know that the 137-year history of the Met mirrors the racist history of the performing arts in this country. The Met only broke the color line in 1955 when Marian Anderson was invited to make her belated company debut—a shameful fact that was highlighted in this past season’s exhibition in Founders Hall, ‘Black Voices at the Met,’” the statement authored by general manager Peter Gelb and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin noted. “If an institution like the Met is to move forward and make positive change, it must acknowledge the mistakes of the past. Moreover, we must recognize that those mistakes have not been wholly corrected. There is so much more we must—and will—do in support of racial equality.”

The statement emphasized a need to look deeper into changing theatrical practices as well as fortify hiring practices that support diversity on an artistic and administrative level.