Kristian Schuller/Metropolitan Opera
Mary Sollosi
August 05, 2015 AT 09:32 PM EDT

The Metropolitan Opera has announced that in its upcoming production of Verdi’s Otello, its lead — played Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko — will not be wearing the traditional blackface-style makeup.

In a statement to NPR, the Met asserted that they are “committed to color-blind casting,” despite the Shakespearean tragedy’s racial specificity, stating that only a select few performers in the world can sing the challenging role. (Antonenko has sung the part multiple times before.)

Hyperallergic first reported the news with a quote from the Met’s general manager Peter Gelb: “I realize it’s a sensitive issue. We feel that it’s the appropriate direction for this production and we’re happy with that decision.”

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