"It felt offensive to me"

A USC Thornton production has been accused of appropriating Chinese culture.

As reported by Daily Trojan, USC Thorton’s opera production of Le Rossignol has been accused of yellowface and appropriating Chinese culture.

The department of USC Thornton School of Music’s production featured actors from different ethnicities. As the production is set in imperial China, some wore caps with long braids to represent the hairstyle of men during the Qing Dynasty.

However, some audience members as well as some involved in the production found it to be troubling.

“The costuming and the staging could have been done a lot more tastefully … it felt offensive to me,” said Tiffany Chung, a first-year Korean American graduate student who played violin for the production.

“Only emperors were allowed to wear yellow … that makes me feel like they did zero research,” said a Chinese American audience member and USC graduate.

Le Rossignol AKA The Nightingale is a 1914 opera by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky based on the 1844 Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name.

The opera depicts a Chinese emperor who learns the limitations of his power after failing to control a nightingale.

Director Ken Cazan defended the production’s casting or costume design.“We made no pretense that they were Asian for a second,” he said. “There were clearly a lot of European-based people up on that stage… that’s how you costume a show, I do believe.” 

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