Terence Blanchard, first black opera at the Met
A native of Louisiana, Terence O. Blanchard was the first black artist to launch an original opera at the famous Metropolitan Opera House. Fire shut up in my bones is based on the memoir of Charles M. Blow, another black Louisiana man.
Blow is a bestselling author, New York Times columnist, CNN contributor and host of Premier with Charles M. Blow on the Black News Network.
Fire shut up in my bones tells the story of a young man’s journey through a life of trauma and hardship. The opera follows Charles through his teenage years and ultimately leads to a fateful moment: he must decide whether to break free from his trauma and start rebuilding his life.
«At Terence Blanchard Fire shut up in my bones is the first work by a black composer to be presented at the Met. Based on the moving memoir by Charles M. Blow of the same name and a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, the new production is co-directed by James Robinson and Camille A. Brown. Brown, who is also the production’s choreographer, becomes the first black director to create a Met production on the main stage. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin runs a stellar cast, led by Will Liverman as Charles, Angel Blue as Destiny / Loneliness / Greta and Latonia Moore as Billie, ”according to the Met press release .
“I didn’t know I was the first black man to have an opera at the Met,” said Blanchard, from New Orleans, in the The creative forces behind the fire are silent in my bones. “It is a huge and huge honor, but I know I am not the first qualified to do it.”
Blanchard, 59, started playing the piano at the age of five, switched to the trumpet three years later, and performed alongside his childhood friend Wynton Marsalis in summer camps.
Blow wonders before the embrace by the Met of his memories. “I’m still that little boy from nowhere in the world. For the Met to say it’s big enough is truly an honor.
Charles McRay Blow, 51, is from Gibsland, Louisiana. Gibsland is a town of 563 inhabitants in the parish of Bienville, Louisiana. The town is best known for its connecting railroads, the birthplace of Coleman College, and the nearby capture in 1934 of the Bonnie and Clyde bandits.
First Vice President at Harper-Collins, Jonathan Burnham, describes Blow Fire shut up in my bones like a psychological thriller. During a public discussion on the memoirs, Burnham asked Blow about his motivation to write the book.
“The title is from the Bible,” Blow said. Jeremiah 20: 9 says, “I will no longer mention him, nor speak on his behalf. But his word was in my heart like a blazing fire locked in my bones; and I was tired of abstaining, and I couldn’t hold back.
At age seven, Blow was sexually assaulted by a cousin, Chester. Blow didn’t tell anyone about it. He struggled with the trauma caused by Chester. As a young man, Blow had to accept that what had happened was not his fault. He also had to deal with confusion over his gender identity.
Memories open with Charles, 20, sitting in a car, holding a gun and deciding whether or not to kill his attacker. “To me, Chester was the devil,” he said.
He credits the self-reliance he learned from watching successful black professionals in a segregated community thrive while owning property, growing their own food, and running institutions. Blow, like his mother, is a “super survivor”.
Blow was revealed to be bisexual in 2014 when the Fire shut up in my bones memory. He is the divorced father of three adult children.
Blow survived the trauma, graduated with a magnum cum laude degree from Grambling University with a BA in Mass Communication, and went on to become an award-winning graphic designer, journalist, author, father and husband.
“With a vast body of work, including scores from many Spike Lee films and an extensive discography, 2018 U.S. scholar and six-time Grammy-winning trumpeter / composer Terence Blanchard has been a consistent artistic force in making powerful musical statements concerning American pain tragedies. He studied jazz at Rutgers University and was invited to perform with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra in 1982. After a series of collaborative recordings, he released his self-titled debut solo album on Columbia Records in 1991. In 2015 he released his debut album with his jazz quintet E-Collectif, and more recently the ensemble collaborated with the Turtle Island Quartet for a new album, Absence, the one released in 2021 on the Blue Note label. He was nominated for an Oscar for his original sheet music for the films BlackKkKlansman in 2019 and Da 5 bloods in 2021. In 2013, his first opera, Champion, had its world premiere at the Opéra Théâtre de Saint Louis, and six years later this same company created its Fire shut up in my bones, According to the Met.
The opening night of the 2021-2022 season will be a historic occasion as the Met’s first performance of an opera by a black composer. Yannick Nézet-Séguin directs Grammy Award-winning jazz musician and composer Terence Blanchard’s adaptation of the moving memoirs of Charles M. Blow, which The New York Times acclaimed after its world premiere in 2019 at the Opera. Théâtre de Saint Louis as “daring and touching” and “subtly powerful”.
With a libretto by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, Fire shut up in my bones tells the story of a young man’s journey through a life of trauma and hardship.
James Robinson and Camille A. Brown, two of the creators of the recent sensational Met production Porgy and Bess, co-directs this new production; Brown, who is also the production’s choreographer, becomes the first black director to create a Met production on the main stage.
“Baritone Will Liverman, one of opera’s most exciting young artists, stars as Charles, alongside sopranos Angel Blue as Destiny / Loneliness / Greta and Latonia Moore as Billie” , reported the Met.
“I want to make sure the people I stand on are proud of. My hope and my dream is to have little children knowing that they can overcome and be successful in life.
“Terence is a genius. When it’s over, I’ll have a soundtrack of my life written by Terence Blanchard, ”Blow said happily.
Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a two hour and 40 minute opera. It opened on September 27 and runs until October 23. Visit