First Met Opera by Black Composer Screens Oct. 23, 30 At Catamount

Terence Blanchard onstage in "Fire Shut Up in my Bones."

ST. JOHNSBURY — Catamount Arts will screen the very first work by a Black composer on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, live on Saturday, Oct. 23, with an encore presentation to follow on Oct. 30.

“Fire Shut Up in my Bones,” by multiple Grammy Award winner and jazz composer Terence Blanchard, opened on Sept. 27. The Washington Post dubbed opening night, “a watershed moment for American opera.”

The second opera from Blanchard, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” takes audiences on a profound, often painful, musical and dramatic journey. To tell this story, Blanchard conjures a sound world that weaves together jazz and gospel idioms, probing and incisive melodies, and an intricate orchestral palette.

Based on New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s memoir of his turbulent upbringing in Louisiana, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is indicative of Blanchard’s commitment to showcasing work relevant to the Black community. “In order to create art that’s meaningful, it has to be part of the community, it has to be of your world,” Blanchard says. “I look at what we do as being a documentarian so to speak…you can help heal people through this process of creating something so beautiful and powerful. (T)hat’s always been my mission.”

Blanchard has deep roots in jazz and has toured with legends such as Lionel Hampton and Art Blakely, but his many works defy further categorization. He is especially celebrated for his close collaboration with director Spike Lee, for whom he has scored 20 films, comprising not quite a third of the film scores Blanchard has written. Blanchard was introduced to opera by his father, an avid aficionado and collector of boxed albums Blanchard and his siblings were not allowed to touch, but which the entire family enjoyed on the weekends.

“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is conducted by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and features a libretto that is filmmaker Kasi Lemmons’s first foray into opera.

For tickets to see “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” on October 23rd or 30th, or to review Catamount’s COVID safety protocol requiring masks, valid ID, and proof of vaccination or negative PCR test results, visit www.catamountarts.org or call 748-2600.

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