Scottish Opera Withdraws from Sky Arts Award Over Controversial ‘Yellowface’

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: James Glossop)

The Scottish Opera has withdrawn its nomination for a Sky Arts Award for its production of “Nixon in China.”

According to The Times, the company was criticized for its use of “yellowface” makeup as well as casting choices.

Sarah Owen, the Labour MP for Luton North, took to social media criticizing the company and wondering why the production received public funding especially after it used “exaggerated winged eye makeup.”

Julian Chou-Lambert, an opera singer and composer based in London also criticized the production for only casting two Asian performers.

Scottish Opera said that it was “deeply sorry for the offense caused by the casting” of the production, which depicts the 1972 meeting of Mao Zedong and President Nixon, and pulled out of the South Bank Sky Arts awards.

In a statement, the company said it was “deeply sorry for the offense caused by the casting.” The company added that “We actively encourage performers of all ethnicity to appear at Scottish Opera, and had a range within the cast of this production. However, we accept that there is a lot more work still to be done for as we prepare for future productions.”