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Metropolitan Opera Will Present Terence Blanchard Opera Fire Shut Up In My Bones

It is the first opera by a black composer to be performed at the esteemed New York institution 

Terence Blanchard
Terence Blanchard at the 2019 Newport Jazz Festival (photo: Joseph Allen)

The Metropolitan Opera in New York City will present trumpeter Terence Blanchard’s opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones in a forthcoming season, the company said, though it did not specify exactly which season it would be.

Premiered in June in St. Louis, the work will be the first opera by a black composer to be performed at the Met, which was founded 136 years ago and whose general manager is Peter Gelb.

The opera, with a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, is based on the 2014 memoir by New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow, about his turbulent, impoverished upbringing in rural Louisiana. 

Blanchard, 57, is a New Orleans native and best known as a jazz artist—he got his start with Lionel Hampton and Art Blakey and now leads a band called the E-Collective. But he has a diverse portfolio, having written his first opera, Champion, about the boxer Emile Griffith, in 2013. (It also premiered in St. Louis.) Blanchard is also a film score composer, having worked on every Spike Lee movie since Jungle Fever in 1991. Last year, Blanchard was nominated for his first Academy Award for best original score for BlacKkKlansman.

In an interview with the Times, Blanchard said that he wished his father were alive to see the opera’s debut in New York. “He was an avid opera fanatic,” Blanchard said.