For generations, tenors wore makeup in Verdi’s Otello, after Shakespeare’s tragedy of the Moor of Venice. The practice is under heavy fire now, on the grounds of supposed racism. Russell Thomas, who heads the cast of the new production in Washington, takes a more nuanced view. “I don’t believe that is ‘blackface,’” he recently informed Opera News. As an African American—and the first artist of color to assume the title role in a major international house—he’s above the fray. —M.G.
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