"Gypsy" Costumes for "The Fortune Teller" excerpts
Date: April 25, 2014
I'm doing a few excerpts from Victor Herbert's "The Fortune Teller" in a concert this weekend, and (as I would do for any opera excerpt with a colorful theme) I planned to have the soloists wear a few scarves, sashes, etc. One of my choristers sent me a letter calling my attention to the fact that the Nazis persecuted the Romani people (a fact of which I was aware), and that wearing "Gypsy" costumes was considered "appropriating a culture" and not sensitive. My take on it is that it's a drama about the Romani people (they do use the word "Romany" in addition to "Gypsy"), and they are portrayed positively, as they are the protagonists.
In my opinion, this is a situation in which I should make some remarks before the performance about the history of the Romani/Gypsy people and the context of the piece of music, but I see no reason why I shouldn't don non-derogatory costumes, as I would for any dramatic performance.
Anyone care to weigh in?