Terence Blanchard Makes History At The Metropolitan Opera

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Will Liverman (center) as Charles in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera


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Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

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Terence Blanchard, a celebrated jazz trumpeter and film composer, makes history as the Metropolitan Opera season opens.

Henry Abenejo/courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera


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Henry Abenejo/courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera


Author Interviews
After Childhood Abuse, ‘Times’ Columnist Says He Chose Life Over Vengeance

Fire Shut Up in My Bones is based on the memoir of the same title by Charles M. Blow. It’s about a Black boy growing up in rural Louisiana, where he rises above poverty, violence, and sexual abuse to become a successful writer.

The show was first staged two years ago by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. For the Met production, new scenes were added, along with a chorus, and a troupe of dancers. Terence Blanchard says the opera, with its all-Black cast and mostly Black creative team, is about much more than his music.

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Terrence Blanchard (center) addresses Metropolitan Opera Orchestra members in rehearsal, with music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin looking on.

Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera


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Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera


Deceptive Cadence
Will Liverman ‘Dreams Of A New Day’ For Black Composers

Much of the opera’s libretto revolves around Charles’s struggle to accept his bisexuality; he’s haunted by his attraction to men. The second act opens with a ballet featuring a dozen ghostly male dancers pairing off in same-sex embraces.

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Co-director and choreographer Camille A. Brown (left) leads members of the ensemble of Fire Shut Up in My Bones in a movement workshop.

Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera


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Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera


Deceptive Cadence
In Pursuit Of A More Diverse Night At The Opera

The new Metropolitan Opera season includes works by Verdi, Mozart, Wagner, Stravinsky and Puccini. Blanchard says how his work measures up is yet to be answered.

«That’s a funny question,» he says, «’cause it’s funny listening to you name all those names: Verdi, all those guys, then you say Blanchard…wait a minute, who’s that dude? I really don’t know because I feel, like Charles, my story is still untold yet. I’m just enjoying this moment for what it’s bringing to my life, because I never saw this coming. Never. Never in a million years could I see this coming.»

Blanchard says he’s not concerned with why it took so long for the Metropolitan Opera to present the work of a Black composer. He says the key question is: what happens next?

  • Terence Blanchard

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