British Students Call Off 'Aida' Over Controversy

October 5, 2016

A student group at Britain's University of Bristol has called off plans to produce the opera Aida after concerns were raised over the possible casting of white actors to play key roles in the opera about an Ethiopian princess held in Egypt. Musical Theater Bristol, the group, posted this statement on its Facebook page: "To all our MTB members, it is with great sadness that we are announcing the cancellation of Aida in this year's MTB show calendar. This show that was voted in by our members has since cause controversy in terms of racial diversity. To those who had concerns on this, we would like to say, the show set in ancient Egypt is about a war between two countries and as a result the enslavement of one country. The two lovers of the story cannot be together due to their responsibilities to their countries as different nationalities and this is reflected in the book, with no comment made on racial discrimination. It is a great shame that we have had to cancel this show as of course we would not want to cause offense in any way, and that was certainly never our intention. Our intention was to tell this story, one which, surely, is better heard than not performed at all."

The Telegraph quoted Rupert Christiansen, its opera critic, as saying, “Where will the mealy-mouthed nonsense peddled by ideologues in Bristol stop? If something doesn’t laugh it to extinction, Verdi’s entire oeuvre could fall under the ax.”

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