October 25, 2021

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Terrence Blanchard talks about making metropolitan opera history

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Terrence Blanchard received a seven-minute standing ovation after the opening night performance of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones”, marking the first black musician to set foot on the stage at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City.

Often known for his score work in the film Spike Lee, or his solo efforts as a jazz trumpeter and musician, Blanchard worked on a memoir stage adaptation of Charles M. Bloor. Due to the coveted shutdown, the Met did not work for 18 months, but returned with Blanchard’s Opera Front and Center.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Blanchard said a few days after that historic event. “The rehearsal process was magical, because everyone was ready to be ready. All of this great power was involved. Among the artists involved were: Camille A. Brown, co-director of Met production with James Robinson, set designer Alan Moyer, and Yannick Nazet-Saguin, who worked as music director and conductor.

Blanchard of Netzet-Ségui said: “I saw him, and I told him, like a herd of elephants watching him conduct opera, it’s a huge thing. It’s amazing to walk around him and put everything together. ”

“Fire Shut Up on My Bones” tells a touching and profound story about the trauma and hardships of a young man’s life. The opera follows Charles into his adolescence and eventually leads to a lucky moment: when he has to decide that he needs to get out of his past and start rebuilding his life.

The idea originally came from his wife who proposed it to Blanchard. His love for opera is rooted in childhood. Blanched describes his father as an opera lover who collected various recordings. “They came in boxes and we weren’t allowed to touch them,” Blanchard recalls. “Plastic sleeves are original. But he’ll play those on the weekends, and I’ll be very enchanted. ”

It’s stuck.

The difference between music for the screen and the stage can be huge. Blanchard, who recently completed Lee’s “NYC Epicenters 9/11➔2021½” and returns to “Perry Mason” for the second episode, sees it this way: “Through the film, you’re helping someone else tell their story. With Opera “It started with me and then people took it and started from there. Everything from the beginning to the end is mine.”

Even when there are silent moments, or “nothing is going on,” Blanchard adds, determining how long that silence lasts still depends on him. “It simply came to our notice then. You have to write these lines for singers to sing all night, and you have to make it interesting, ”he said of the process. He also has to take various vocal functions of the actors while writing.

Performances for “Fire Shut Up My Bones” continue at MET the following night: October 8, October 13, October 16, October 19 and October 23.

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