Wednesday, 14 April 2010

What if Jago were a Black man, and maybe he was

If Jago were a Black man just like Otello would the opera just fall apart then. Jago is jealous of Otello because Otello is the commander of Cyprus and Black. And then we think that Jago must be acting and thinking as a Racist. But what if Jago is Black then he could be hating that his superior is Black because of self-hate. Jago hate his own color. Or maybe he is thinking if there should be a Black commander it should be him, Jago. And that is very much in character of Jago. He may then subtly use Otello's self-loathing to make him weak to suggestion that Desdemona cannot possibly love a Black man.

How to make this work in the opera would be for the director to find out. It is not impossible.

A critic who called having 2 Black men in lead of Otello as Jago and Otello was a miscast. Then what is having a white man as Otello? The same story of how Black, Asians and other Non-Whites in white roles as wrong, but at the same time it is OK when White persons play Black, Asian etc.

A standard is not a standard if is that White can play Black, but Black cannot play White. In opera I would like it to be if you can sing/act the role then you can take the scene. People who work in opera in costume and mask department should know to do the magic. And some time the audience should be asked to do the magic in their own heads.

At the same time when it comes to movies: what is wrong with having authenticity. Please can movies where the characters are supposed to speak Norwegian or Mandarin or Greek really have someone talking the real language. If you are not, then you are ruining the movie. In America, the US of A, it can't be impossible to have an Japanese-American playing an Japanese-American, why just another White person. In Norway it might be hard to find such an actor especially if you think it is impossible. In movies I expect reality, in opera I don't expect it. But in both I do not want to see racism defining who can get the roles. I don't.

Just think if all that energy that goes into putting offensive things into operas etc was put into thinking about new ways of exploring the reality of the whole human kind. The shock value is so easy...

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