Teatro Real de Madrid ‘Banishes’ Blackface from ‘Aida’ Production

By Francisco Salazar

Following the release of images from Teatro Real’s dress rehearsal of “Aida” and some choice comments from major performers in the production, OperaWire inquired into the matter and reached out to the Teatro Real de Madrid regarding whether the production would be employing any kind of Blackface.

The company responded this morning stating that it was not using any Blackface and that it was “banishing” the practice altogether.

The company told OperaWire, “in the production of ‘Aida,’ which the Teatro Real will premiere on October 24, blackface -theatrical makeup used to represent a black person- is not used or performed on any of the performers in the show. Everyone appears in their actual skin tone.”

The company added, “The gold and silver makeup used by the Teatro Real in this production to cover the skin of some of the dancers and figurative actors and actresses is due to artistic reasons. No makeup is used to fake another skin color. What the stage direction seeks is the ‘sculpturing’ of the body. Human bodies treated like bronze statues.”

The company also noted that “the practice of blackface has been banished from the Teatro Real  and the stage director and his entire team have collaborated in the most positive and creative way to change all the elements of the original production that could give life to the slightest misunderstanding.”

Earlier this year, the Arena di Verona’s production of “Aida” came under fire for its use of Blackface. The company defended its stance and artists throughout the production continued the practice. Tenor Piotr Beczala, who is singing in the Teatro Real’s “Aida” said that that Verona controversy was “ridiculous” and baritone Carlos Álvarez, recently gave an interview in which he stated that his Amonasro would be a “dark Ethiopian King with African cultural characteristics. That is my political correctness.” (El Debate adds that he smiles as he said this part regarding “political correctness”)