The first African-American Opera of the Met in New York

This afternoon, Terence Blanchard will go down in history as the first black composer to premiere an opera at the Met of New York since it opened its doors in 1

The first African-American Opera of the Met in New York

This afternoon, Terence Blanchard will go down in history as the first black composer to premiere an opera at the Met of New York since it opened its doors in 1883. It is said soon. Or too late, as looked at. "Actually I do not know very well how to feel," he confesses the composer trumpeter of New Orleans. "It is an honor to be able to inaugurate the season of the great operatic temple of my country, but I can not avoid thinking about all those African-American composers whose operas did not run the same fate as mine." He refers to Scott Joplin, Harry Lawrence Freeman, James P. Johnson, to the great Shirley Graham du Bois or to him admirable William Grant Still, for citing only a few. "It is incomprehensible that over 138 years have been represented here more than 300 titles and none of an African-American composer."

Blanchard's good relationship with Peter Gelb, Superintendent of the Met, has made it possible for Fire Shut Up in my Bones eleve this afternoon the first curtain of the season after his successful premiere, three years ago, at the San Luis Opera. "We met when Gelb was president of Sony Classical, where I recorded three albums, but I never imagined that he would end up composing an opera." Until now Blanchard was known, above all, by his participation in Spike Lee's sonorous bands, with whom he has just collaborated in the documentary New York, epicenter of 11-S and a pandemic. "The good thing about working with Spike is that he opens his eyes to the hidden reality of things. The bad thing, that people are always wondering about the controversies that pursue him. I always answer the same: Spike is a sensitive, decent and extraordinarily talented type ».

Blanchard began to play the piano with five years and was accepted as an Ellis Marsalis student in the Blooming New Orleans Jazzkical Scene. Before starting to accumulate Grammy awards on his shelf (he has six), Miles Davis referred to him during an interview as "the brightest trumpeter of his generation," what he finished catapulting his fame and opened the doors of the studies of Columbia and Blue Note, where he recorded at pleasure with Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson ...

"When thousands said that I was playing in Perugia. At the exit of the hotel, I found surrounded by journalists. I did not know what had happened, but it happened that thousands was also in Italy. A few days later, he received me in his dressing room at the Umbra festival and we were talking for a while. It was one of the most incredible moments of my career. "

It is not necessary to clarify that, at that time, the opera was not among its priorities. "My relationship with gender goes back to some memories of my childhood. My father was amateur baritone, so at home he was always ringing opera: Carmen, Rigoletto, La Bohème ... ». In 2009 Blanchard came to the first as a public at the San Luis opera, where four years later the first raid of it was released in the genre, Champions, about the life of a boxer.

«I discovered a world full of possibilities that broke me completely the schemes," says Blanchard. "My African-American friends who refuse to attend opera for everything that represents I tell them that they are wrong, because it supposes the maximum expression of the theater musical, an incredible way to get to the heart of people ».

Based on the reports of the New York Times journalist Charles M. Blow, Fire Shut Up in my Bones tells the story of an African-American young woman who undertakes a trip of overcoming with the backpack loaded with traumas. When Blanchard saw George Floyd on television, undergoing a policeman's knee, the opera was already finished, but those images gave him a new meaning to the score, halfway between the Wayne Shorter standards and the great melodic motifs of Puccini.

"It was the same song as always, but listened differently," he says the 59-year-old composer. "Then I realized that the ear had become accustomed to rhythm and melody, but we had stopped listening to the lyrics of some songs. In that sense, the protests of the Black Lives Matter have printed a new layer of meaning to the opera that will surely not be unnoticed to the public that comes to the premiere. "

Updated Date: 26 September 2021, 20:24

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