Anti-blackface soprano cancels Verona

Anti-blackface soprano cancels Verona


norman lebrecht

July 28, 2019

The Met soprano Tamara Wilson, who created a furore in Verona by refusing to be blacked up for Aida, has fallen ill and is unable to perform.

She writes:

I regret that I will be unable to perform Aida with Maestro Domingo tonight, celebrating his 50th anniversary, especially after such a wonderful rehearsal yesterday. Last night, I became ill…



  • John S Orel says:

    I hope her dep goes on in the make-up assigned by the designers.

  • Alan says:

    Probably choked on her own sense of self importance.

    If she cared at all she’d have recommended the Verona authorities employ an Egyptian singer instead of kicking up a fuss over some make up. It’s not like she was asked to do a black and white minstrels job.

    People like this are ruining the world

    • Jack says:

      If you really think someone refusing to wear blackface is ruining the world, then there’s really little hope for you.

      • Novagerio says:

        There’s theater make-up and there’s “Blackface” as in the old Mintrel Show tradition. I think she’s either confused or just plain ignorant. Or perhaps rebuffing Domingo on his 50th anniversary Gala is more about attention and publicity seeking?…
        P.S: Don’t tell her about Al Jolson, by the way!

        • Novagerio says:

          Nevertheless, she sang her reamining shows “en masque”, so, now she had her big News Hour, and propably her last moment of glory, in Italy and in Europe (and dare I say, in the US, where the Plácido-support is strongest?)

  • Patrick says:

    another unknown trying to get some support by inventing stories and then she does not even perform…. waste of time.

  • ThrownOutOfTheKremlinForSinging says:

    “Warum zitterst du? Vor miner schwarzen Farbe, oder vor dem ausgedachten Mord?”

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Misguided, at the minimum, certainly a silly position she has taken.

    • John S Orel says:

      Well, her career in Europe is washed-up now anyhow. No-one would employ her after this fiasco.

      • Judy says:

        OKAY – you are so out of touch. Washed up? She is only in her early 30’s and you should look at her schedule on Operabase. Definitely not washed up!! LOL

  • Bassoken says:

    I am for anyone who is willing to stand firmly in their personal sense of right and wrong, especially when the stakes are this high. Ms. Wilson is an extraordinary artist, hardly an unknown. Her decision, whether one agrees with it or not, is explained beautifully in her posts. I’m so sorry she fell ill.

    • John S Orel says:

      – 100

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you! Really horrible and thoughtless armchair comments above. You cannot go down the road of inverted racism and nationality or colour when casting a role. Blacking up a white face in this day and age is as unacceptable in this day and age as whitening up a black face.

      • ThrownOutOfTheKemlinForSinging says:

        Bertie Wooster would agree with you. He learned the hard way that blacking up is a bad idea, even when you think there’s no alternative. (Read THANK YOU, JEEVES.)

      • Paul Brownsey says:

        “Blacking up a white face in this day and age is as unacceptable in this day and age as whitening up a black face.”

        Neither is unacceptable to me.

        Stop confusing opera make-up with the insulting caricature of minstrel shows.

        Do you extend your criticism to those black people who straighten their hair?

    • Brian says:

      She was engaged to sing a role – to serve music, the composer and the Arena di Verona. Instead, she used all three to push her own agenda. She accepted a contract knowing full-well what it entails, yet she chose to keep her agenda hidden until it was too late for her employer to find a substitute. However, from reports I have read (even from her), she ended up singing with the dark make-up that was required. So much for her principles. It was a publicity stunt that served to sowed dissension and didn’t serve art or humanity. She is not an artist; she is a terrorist.

      • Judy says:

        A TERRORIST? She is a singer who was courageous and has the career power to do the right thing and stand up. BRAVA to her.

        • M2N2K says:

          No, she is neither. She is an ignorant person who is brainwashed by prevailing PC culture and probably scared of being blacklisted (no pun intended).

        • M2N2K says:

          She is neither a hero nor “a terrorist”. She is simply an ignorant person brainwashed by the currently prevailing PC culture who is apparently afraid of being “blacklisted” (no pun intended or implied).

      • AnnaT says:

        Brian, calling her a “terrorist” is borderline hysterical. And she can “serve music” just fine without blackface.

    • Yes Addison says:

      I agree, and the notion of her being an unknown is especially laughable. She’s the 2016 Tucker Award winner, and her schedule shows years of engagements, past and future, at top venues.

      While our depressed right-wing shut-ins may hope that her objection to the makeup in the Verona production causes her to stop getting booked anywhere, I don’t think that that will happen.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    Learn the music.

    Arrive on time.

    Be a good colleague.

    Put on the costume.

    Put on the make up.

    Give a great performance.

    Collect your check.

    Go home.

    Save your money.

    Life is long.

    The career is short.

  • Brian says:

    Interesting juxtaposition, this update alongside the post on Netrebko – who recently has mocked Native Americans on her Instagram feed and posed in a questionable dress with a black boy printed on the front. Racial tensions are alive and well in opera.

  • Gustavo says:

    Cheer-up, it’s only Verona!