(Ben Brantley’s and Anthony Tommasini’s article appeared in The New York Times, 9/30; via Pam  Green.)

When the Metropolitan Opera announced it would forgo the traditional darkening makeup for the title character in its new production of Verdi’s “Otello,” it set off the latest in an ongoing series of debates about the depiction of race in theatrical settings. In an email exchange, two critics for The New York Times — Ben Brantley, whose specialty is theater, and Anthony Tommasini, whose area is classical music — discussed the “Otello” staging, the uses of blackface, casting trends and more. Here are excerpts from their conversation. 

ANTHONY TOMMASINI Colorblind casting has taken hold over the last couple of decades, both in the theater and opera worlds. Today, if a production of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (or Gounod’s “Roméo et Juliette” in the opera house) starred a black Romeo and a white Juliet, it would simply be a nonissue.


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