Now Verdi’s Aida falls foul of the race row zealots: Opera is cancelled at Bristol University after claims having white students play its Ethiopian characters is ‘cultural appropriation’ 

  • University of Bristol society planned to perform Giuseppe Verdi's Aida
  • However students cancelled the production amid a race row controversy
  • Concern over casting white actors as Egyptian and Ethiopian characters 

Students at the University of Bristol cancelled their production of the Italian opera 'Aida' amid a race row over 'cultural appropriation'.

Set in Ancient Egypt, the much-loved work by Giuseppe Verdi tells the story of doomed lovers from two warring nations kept apart by conflict.

Members of Music Theatre Bristol society were scheduled to perform the opera as an 'epic rock musical' as part of their 2017 spring performance season.

However the society cancelled the production following 'controversy in terms of racial diversity', adding: 'We would not want to cause offence in any way'.  

Spectacle: A performance of Aida at the English National Opera in 2007. Music Theatre Bristol had voted to perform the much-loved opera but cancelled amid a race row controversy

Spectacle: A performance of Aida at the English National Opera in 2007. Music Theatre Bristol had voted to perform the much-loved opera but cancelled amid a race row controversy

Cancelled: The student society announced the decision with this Facebook post

Cancelled: The student society announced the decision with this Facebook post

It is believed their were protests over the casting, which likely would have seen white students playing Egyptian and Ethiopian characters, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Among them is the title role, an Ethiopian princess who has become a slave, and her doomed lover, Radames.  

The first performance of Aida took place in Cairo in 1871 and has since become one of the world's most performed operas. 

Announcing the decision on Facebook, the society said: 'To all our MTB members, it is with great sadness that we are announcing the cancellation of "Aida" in this years 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. 

Lavish: The stage is set for a dress rehearsal of Aida in Verona, Italy in 2003

Lavish: The stage is set for a dress rehearsal of Aida in Verona, Italy in 2003

'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 offence 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.'

One outraged Facebook user wrote in response: 'The cancelling of this production of Aida on the grounds of "cultural appropriation" is outrageous censorship of the worst variety. 

'Aida is a great work of art and belongs to the world. The whole student body is the looser here.'

Conrad Young, of Bristol Against Censorship, told the Tab: 'although MTB seemed to approach a sensitive topic with great humility and care, Aida was not to be. 

'The affect that the fear of cultural appropriation has on modern campuses is a sad affair and in this case has damaged the student experience of the people involved and the prospective student audiences.' 

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