In the March issue of Estonian magazine Teater.Muusika.Kino an article by Madis Nurms about blackface makeup and it’s usage in opera can be found. Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used by performers to represent a black person. By the mid-20th century, changing attitudes about race and racism effectively ended the prominence of blackface makeup used in performance in theatre. One major exception is opera where blackface is still today widely regarded as normal and acceptable.
Contemporary scenographer can approach the usage of black makeup in operas like “Aida” and “Otello” in basically three different ways: a) use it in decorative fashion - see it separated from it’s social context and historical background b ) in declaratory way - using it to stress the issues of race and racism ( a la Hans Neuenfels ) or c ) to abandon its use altogether.
Full article (in Estonian) can be read HERE >>