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Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think Of FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES At The Met Opera?


The work is the first opera by a black composer to be performed at the Met.

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think Of FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES At The Met Opera?

Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones - the first opera by a Black composer ever performed by the Met is now on stage.

Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up in My Bones is the first work by a Black composer to be presented at the Met. Based on Charles M. Blow's moving memoir of the same name and featuring a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, the new staging 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 mainstage Met production. Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts a stellar cast, led by Will Liverman as Charles, Angel Blue as Destiny/Loneliness/Greta, and Latonia Moore as Billie.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones tells a poignant and profound story about a young man's journey to overcome a lifetime of trauma and hardship. The opera follows Charles through his adolescence and ultimately leads to a fateful moment: when he must decide whether to break free from his trauma and begin to rebuild his life.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones is a co-production of the Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. The production is commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. The opera premiered to great acclaim and was originally commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, co-commissioned by Jazz St. Louis. The creative team includes set designer Allen Moyer, costume designer Paul Tazewell, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind, and projection designer Greg Emetaz.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Fire Shut Up in My Bones Reviews

Anthony Tommasini, NY Times: The resulting musical setting is clear and natural. Blanchard mixes sputtered spoken moments into vocal phrases that unfold in a jazz equivalent of Italianate arioso. He has a penchant for cushioning these vocal lines with orchestral chords that hug them - or else he will often double the voices or write counter-melodies with extended lines for strings. [...] "Fire" remains a fresh, affecting work.

James Jorden, Observer: At its current length of two and a half hours, Fire Shut Up in My Bones is in the running for best American opera of the 21st century. Trimmed of perhaps 20 minutes of restatement and filigree, I think it would be a clear winner.

David Salazar, OperaWire: Everyone who saw the videos the Met shared online prior to the opening knew what was coming and they greeted the dancers with exuberant applause. [...] And when the dancers had completed their number (no orchestration by the way to accompany them - they were both dancers and the music), the entire audience JUMPED out of its seats to give them a standing ovation. [...] But "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," in my mind, is a triumph not only because of what it represents in a larger social context or how it can open opportunities for future creators of color but because it is itself, a masterpiece.

Gabrielle Ferrari, Parterre: Blanchard's score is richly colored and beautifully orchestrated, imbued with moments of humor, but mainly with a clear-eyed compassion for his characters, to whom he never condescends nor condemns. The lyrical moments, which increase over the course of the opera, are tempered beautifully by moments of discomfort.

John Rockwell, Financial Times: But on the whole, the evening is carried by Blow's tortured story and Kasi Lemmons's libretto, which does a wonderful job adapting the dramatic elements of Blow's tale. Lemmons, who is also a film director, compacts the first-person narrative to a single soprano portraying Destiny, Loneliness and, in the end, Blow's first real lover (all three portrayed by the fine soprano Angel Blue).

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