Piotr Beczala Calls Arena di Verona’s Blackface Scandal ‘Ridiculous’ in New Interview

By Francisco Salazar

Ahead of the opening night of the “Aida” at the Teatro Real, Piotr Beczala is speaking out regarding the scandal that broke out at the Arena di Verona.

In a recent interview with Beckmesser the tenor said, “I absolutely agree with what the great mezzo Grace Bumbry wrote on social media, I subscribe to every word when she says that what really matters is the credibility of the character. It seems to me a ridiculous controversy because what we are doing is art. History, this, and hundreds of others in the world of poetry, are what they are. I can understand the disagreement, but, I repeat, we are artists and it is not correct to read a story that takes place in Verdi’s time with today’s eyes. Shakespeare, without going any further, would today be branded a racist.”

The tenor was responding to a question regarding Angel Blue’s withdrawal from the Arena di Verona due to the company’s use of blackface. The scandal broke out when artists including Beczala’s co-star Jamie Barton criticized Anna Netrebko for posting pictures that included her and Ambrogio Maestri in the makeup.

In the interview, Beczala also addressed that he has not been in contact with Netrebko since Feb. 24 but not because of artistic reasons. He also addressed the war and said that “Putin has created a false enemy” and noted that “it is frankly a complicated situation and staying on the sidelines seems impossible to me.” 

“Aida” opens on Oct. 24 and will feature multiple casts with Beczala singing alongside Krassimira Stoyanova, Carlos Alvarez, and Jamie Barton.