For the first time in its 136-year history, New York’s Metropolitan Opera will host an opera created by a Black composer, The Hill reported.
As part of its upcoming programming the opera house will feature Fire Shut Up in My Bones; a piece created by Grammy-winning jazz musician Terence Blanchard. Blanchard’s project was inspired by a memoir penned by journalist Charles M. Blow. The book captures Blow’s coming-of-age journey as a Black man in America. It details the traumatic experiences that he endured as a child and explores topics like racism, poverty, sexuality and spirituality.
“There is a level of you never really know yourself until you write about yourself. You also don’t fully know the people around you until you have to examine them. I had always been angry about my father’s alcoholism. I felt sympathy after writing the book, because I had to explore it in a way that I hadn’t thought about it before,” Blow told The St. Louis American. “One thing I’ve learned as a journalist is that if you tell your own story, then it belongs to you. If somebody finds something out about you and they tell it, it belongs to them.”
The opera made its debut in June at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Blanchard is beyond excited to bring it to New York City and make history. “I wish my father was alive,” he told the New York Times. “He was an avid opera fanatic.” For decades Blanchard has composed the musical scores for several pivotal films. The Louisiana native—who launched his career with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra—has worked on the music for Spike Lee films including Mo’ Better Blues, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, BlacKkKlansman, Inside Man, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts and others. He’s garnered many awards for his work including six Grammys.
Fire Shut Up in My Bones is slated to premiere at the Metropolitan Opera house during its 2021-22 season.