farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

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lennygoran
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farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by lennygoran » Mon Sep 21, 2015 7:19 pm

We'll be there next month-don't know how I'll like it? So why this?

"The Met did, however, darken Antonenko's skin for the photograph on the cover of this season's brochure. " Regards, Len


http://www.npr.org/sections/deceptiveca ... at-the-met

stenka razin
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by stenka razin » Mon Sep 21, 2015 8:25 pm

Len, It is about time for the change. It should have happened a long time ago, my friend.

Regards,
Mel 8)
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John F
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by John F » Tue Sep 22, 2015 6:47 am

Unfortunately, Shakespeare's and Verdi's protagonists are referred to and refer to themselves as black, so this politically correct evasion contradicts the drama. Why shouldn't a dramatic character who is black, be black on the stage? The problem seems not to be Othello's race but white actors putting on black make-up - as if "Othello" were an old-time minstrel show. Sheesh!

Tan rather than black Othellos have appeared from time to time in Shakespeare but haven't taken over. Instead, there's been a tendency to cast black actors in the role, famously including Paul Robeson in the 1940s and more recently James Earl Jones in the 1950s and later. Black tenors with trumpet voices being rather scarce, this option isn't available in the opera house, and anyway, casting roles for looks rather than voices has been degrading musical standards for decades.

I said "political correctness," and that is all it is. But if political correctness is to override fidelity to the artwork, then probably "Othello" and "Otello" should be banned from the stage altogether and only performed in concert or on records.
Last edited by John F on Tue Sep 22, 2015 1:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by lennygoran » Tue Sep 22, 2015 8:25 am

stenka razin wrote:Len, It is about time for the change. It should have happened a long time ago, my friend.
Mel I'll let you know after we see it in a few weeks but I'm kind of skeptical-I never saw a problem with the set or how domingo was blackfaced when he did it at the Met. Regards, Len :(

josé echenique
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by josé echenique » Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:48 pm

What John says is absolutely true. When Domingo sang his first Otello in Hamburg he used a rather pale make up. Sir Lawrence Olivier told him that Otello was black. If the character is going to make any sense is his racial insecurity in a white society. Why would he believe his wife unfaithful to a lesser soldier? Leontyne Price herself refused offers to sing Desdemona because she felt she had to be blonde, very blonde indeed.
The use of make up can´t be satanized in this way, it´s really stupid.

jbuck919
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 4:11 pm

Interesting thing about Olivier's Othello. Although the range of the term "love" in Shakespeare's time covered close friendship, Olivier delivers the the line, "Her [Desdemona's] father loved me" so as to make it clear that it was at least in part a physical attraction. It is not much of a leap to conclude that he approved of Othello for his daughter because he was an exotic black man.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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John F
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by John F » Wed Sep 23, 2015 1:02 am

Olivier has always had a, shall we say, original approach to his roles. Way back when, as Iago to Ralph Richardson's Othello, he put his reading of Ernest Jones (a Freudian psychoanalyst) into practice by unexpectedly kissing Othello on the mouth. To which the astonished Richardson responded, "My dear boy!" So I'm not surprised that he uncovered or invented the sexual subtext jbuck919 mentions.

While playing Othello at the National Theatre, he got on the wrong side of his Desdemona, Maggie Smith. She got back at him by looking into his dressing room, when he was fully made up but before his first entrance, and saying, "Now now, brown cow?" :D
John Francis

david johnson
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by david johnson » Wed Sep 23, 2015 6:32 am

all pc to the garbage dump, please

THEHORN
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by THEHORN » Mon Sep 28, 2015 1:56 pm

Darkening the skin of tenors singing Otello or other characters was never done with the actual intention of mocking and insulting black people , unlike the idiots who actually do appear in public in black face just to make fools of themselves , so I don't see what all the fuss is about .

IN278S
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by IN278S » Mon Oct 12, 2015 6:21 pm

Whatever can be said for or against applying makeup to white singers playing black roles, I see this use of the term "blackface" as unnecessarily confusing. Blackface is a particular theatrical style of makeup and characterization. Blackface characters don't really resemble actual people of African descent. Black performers, such as the important Broadway and recording star Bert Williams, also "blacked up" for roles of this kind. It's little to do with what we might see at the opera when a white tenor is cast as Otello.

jbuck919
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Re: farewell-to-blackfaced-otellos

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Oct 12, 2015 7:47 pm

IN278S wrote:Whatever can be said for or against applying makeup to white singers playing black roles, I see this use of the term "blackface" as unnecessarily confusing. Blackface is a particular theatrical style of makeup and characterization. Blackface characters don't really resemble actual people of African descent. Black performers, such as the important Broadway and recording star Bert Williams, also "blacked up" for roles of this kind. It's little to do with what we might see at the opera when a white tenor is cast as Otello.
I've had some of the same thoughts. In the days when blackface was fashionable in certain forms of entertainment (and with all respect to those who had good reasons to find it offensive), even black people, as you say, had to be made up to be in blackface. It is not really a synonym for dark makeup to make someone of fair skin appear of a different ethnicity, though it has come to be used that way, and every time this has happened even in recent years the "blackface" red flag is quick to make an appearance. You can go down the list of movies and TV episodes one by one and make the judgment. Soul Man, Maya, Kim, and I'm sure there are many others. There was an episode of the old series Bewitched which was suggested by a schoolchild in which a bigoted client of Darren's firm is taught a lesson when "witchcraft" turns everybody in the room black (with an extremely bad make-up job).

With some trepidation I offer the following rather surprising example of true Hollywood blackface. I first saw it as a kid on the Late Show of New York TV. The next time I saw it, also on TV, years later this scene had been censored out. (The premise is that Oliver Hardy is on the lam and in hiding. It is his own voice you hear.)


There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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