Met Season to Open with First-ever Opera by a Black Composer

Charles Blow recalled being in the audience for the premiere of the opera based upon his memoir, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" and seeing the scene in which he was subject to sexual abuse as a child by his cousin.

Met Season to Open with First-ever Opera by a Black Composer

He said that it was more uncomfortable to see everyone watching me than being there. They were worried about me because they were so upset by it.

Blow stated in an interview that they didn't need to be concerned. He said, "When I wrote my book, I had already dealt with all of that." "I don’t have the residual trauma that many people expect me to have."

Blow, a columnist at The New York Times will be back in the audience for the opening of the Metropolitan Opera season, Sept. 27. This will be the first performance of opera in the house since 18 months after the pandemic shut down.

The fact that "Fire," composed by Terence Blanchard (jazz trumpeter and composer), will be the Met's first black opera in its 138-year history is more historic.

Blanchard stated that she was proud to be labelled with this after last week's rehearsal. "But, there's a sense of, rather than guilt, but sadness, because I know that I'm not alone in being qualified."

Blanchard, for example, said that he saw "Fire" at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in June and was able to hear "Highway 1", a one-act opera written by William Grant. It was first performed in 1963.

He said that he was listening to the music and that he went on to say that he thought it should be at the Met.

Blanchard stated that James Robinson, the OTSL artistic Director, had wanted him to write another opera after his first, "Champion". It was a musical based on Emile Griffith's life. Blanchard premiered it in 2013. Blanchard was elated when Robin Burgess, Blanchard's wife, suggested that he read Blow’s memoir.

Blow, now 51 years old, writes about growing up in poverty in rural Louisiana as a shy, sensitive kid with four older brothers and a philandering father. His mother was a hard-working, warm-hearted woman who always had a gun in her purse.

Blanchard, who was raised in New Orleans, said that what attracted him to the story was the idea of being different and isolated in his own community. "I was a child who knew a lot about this. I remember walking to the bus stop every weekend with my horn, wearing glasses, and playing football on the streets. This was not a very popular look.

Blanchard hired Kasi Lemmons as a filmmaker to help him write the libretto. Although she had never written an opera libretto before, she stated that it was something she wanted to do one day.

Lemmons stated that he didn't know the normal process. "I didn’t know which libretto was first. "I thought the music might have been first."

Robinson offered her advice and she gave her the key insight that "anything can sing" in opera. She then created Destiny and Loneliness, which are two characters that Blow has encountered at various points of his life. She has also had a child play the role of Charles the young man on stage at different points.

Lemmons stated that she was worried about Blow's reaction to her inventions. "OK, I've written the loneliness of this guy as a character. It's quite intrusive.

She said that "on the other hand," he was speaking about loneliness in his book "was very palpable."

Blanchard quickly set the libretto to music after she had handed it to him. The score is filled with jazz rhythms and contains lyrical passages. Some characters even have full-length arias.

Robinson and Camille A. co-direct the Met production. Brown, who is also the Met's first Black director. Yannick Nezet–Seguin, Met music director, will direct a cast that includes Will Liverman, baritone, as Charles, and Latonia Moore, soprano, as his mother. Angel Blue, as Destiny, loneliness, and Greta, and as Angel Blue, as Angel Blue. Eight performances will be shown, with the last one being broadcast live in HD in cinemas around the world on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Lyric Opera of Chicago has co-commissioned the production, which will be presented next spring by LA Opera.

Blow writes about being bisexual in his memoir and also discusses having homoerotic fantasies. These fantasies are portrayed in the opera through a sequence of dance choreographed for Brown.

Lemmons hopes that audiences will see beyond the trauma Blow suffered as a child and find inspiration from his story.

It's very sad. Charles Blow is the only thing that's good, she said. "The most remarkable thing about the story is that you can find strength in pain," she said.

Blanchard shares this view. "The simple fact that Charles is so successful in his life shows how much he has overcome," he stated.

"Hopefully, some young child will come to this opera and see that." It can change lives.

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