Monday, November 28, 2016

John Malveaux: LA Opera production of Akhnaten Nov. 27 cast J'Nai Bridges as Nefertiti, Patrick Blackwell as Aye, Frederick Ballentine as High Priest of Amon

Patrick Blackwell and John Malveaux

Frederick Ballentine

See one of numerous protest signs

John Malveaux of 
writes:

Entered LA Opera production of AKHNATEN at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Nov 27, 2016 after walking past a gentle group of African Americans with protest signs and distributing literature declaring AKHNATEN was a Black African and the opera production distort Black History.  Anthony Roth Costanzo was casted as AKHNATEN. As founder/president of MusicUNTOLD with a mission to promote diversity in arts & education, I understood the basis of the protest but was respectful of LA Opera’s casting. NEFERTITI was J’Nai Bridges (African American), AYE was Patrick Blackwell (African American), HIGH PRIEST OF AMON was Frederick Ballentine (African American), HOREMHAB was Kihun Yoon (South Korea), DAUGHTER (one of six) was So Young Park (South Korea). Although unable to determine the exact number of non-whites in the chorus, I recognized Aleta Braxton (African American). In my personal opinion, the strategy to uplift the image of Africa, African Americans and other non-white groups in opera is shortsighted by protesting the concept of blind casting. Color casting may justify current discriminatory practices and threaten recent casting advancements. See pictures backstage with Patrick Blackwell and Frederick Ballentine holding flowers.

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