From our Swindon Correspondent:
From The Telegraph
South Bank Show Awards Panel stands by its nomination of critically acclaimed show despite claims of ‘yellow washing’
In opera, yes, “yellowface” has always existed. Puccini’s premiere of Madam Butterfly was entirely Italian rather than Japanese, but this isn’t the reason that you get white people in oriental roles today.
Opera is all about the voice. Appearance matters less. If you look at the photo illustrating this story, Nixon is portrayed by a black man. This is not to show how relevant and with-it the opera company is. It’s because he has a fine voice. It’s also why you get healthy looking women playing women dying of TB.
Opera has been doing this long before Channel 5 was hiring a black actress to play Anne Boleyn. Jessye Norman, a black woman from Georgia was hired by the Berlin opera in the 1960s to sing teutonic roles in Wagner opera. Kiri Te Kanawa was singing the Countess from the Marriage of Figaro around the same time, despite her roots being Maori rather than Spanish. 20 years ago I saw a Japanese singer performing Violetta, a woman from 19th century Paris. A white singer portraying a Chinese politician is the same as this.