The Black opera that stunned America’s most segregated stage

The Metropolitan Opera has ended its 138-year epoch of composer apartheid with the presentation of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, a production composed by New Orleans’ most acclaimed living trumpet player, Terence Blanchard.

Based on the coming of age memoir by Charles M. Blow, the three-act opera, originally commissioned and developed by Opera Theatre of St. Louis, is set in Gibsland, Louisiana. The story plays out there and on the campus of Grambling State University, in the soft segregation years after Jim Crow had officially ended, but when Black provincial life was still lived separately under a seemingly open sky of largely foreclosed opportunity. 

Underwritten by a $1.25 million Ford Foundation grant, The Met was unstinting, hiring dozens of chorus members, dancers and supernumeraries to populate, harmonize and dance, jump for joy, and erotically writhe to a seductive score that is almost sublimely anchored in the Black musical idioms of jazz, blues, funk, and gospel.

Read the article on Scalawag