The Corner

A Mortal Enemy of Art: Identity Politics

In addition to being a great opera, Aida is an interesting story. Egyptians enslave Ethiopians, and an Egyptian officer falls in love with a slave girl — a princess, to be sure, but still: a slave. The consequences are severe. The couple does not live happily ever after (in an earthly way). And yet we see how, even in national or racial antagonism, beautiful things may emerge.

Earlier this year, the University of Bristol was to put on Aida — not the opera, but a musical based on it. Protesting students shut it down. They were loath to see white students portray Egyptians or Ethiopians.

This led to an essay by me in National Review called “Killing Aida: A mortal threat to art.” I have expanded this piece in my column, Impromptus, today. If you want a break from the daily political up-and-down, see what you think. In some ways, this is more important (if I may say so): civilizational and fundamental.