The company used stock footage of an Asian woman for their promotional video
Onstage Blog reports that Knoxville Opera has come under fire for featuring actors dressed in yellowface for their production of Madame Butterfly.
Originally written by John Luther Long in 1898 and later transformed into an opera by Giacomo Puccini in 1904, Madame Butterfly has often been critiqued for its degrading portrayal of Asians.
Onstage Blog describes the opera as “an Asian-fetish tale about buying a 15-year-old girl for sex.”
Now, theatre house Knoxville Opera has decided to not only host the already-controversial play but has also decided to yellowface it by having no Asian actors in it.
This is not the first time Knoxville Opera has featured the opera. In 2010 the production actually featured an Asian woman in the cast.
Nine years later, Knoxville Opera decided not to cast any Asians but still used promotional material from their 2010 production which featured their Asian actress at the time.
Whatsmore, Knoxville Opera worsened the problem by using stock images of an Asian woman in traditional dress for their promotional video.
Predictably, outrage ensued online. In one post submitted to Subtle Asian Traits’ Facebook page, one person said they tried contacting the theatre company with no avail.
“When I tried to express that this was offensive to Asians in our community, so many people from the cast jumped down my throat and one even accused me of being racist,” the commenter wrote.
“Apparently this is not the first time they’ve done yellowface and last year they even did blackface for Aida,” the commenter claimed.