The Met Debuts First Opera by Black Composer in its 138-Year History

In Summary

Terence Blanchard is making history as the first Black composer to debut a show at the Metropolitan Opera. Fire Shut Up in My Bones, is based on BNC's Prime host Charles Blow's memoir.

The Metropolitan Opera returns with Fire Shut Up in my Bones on Monday, the first opera to be composed by African American in the Met’s 138-year history. 

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Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter and Oscar-nominated composer Terence Blanchard is composing the show, his second opera, based on the memoir from BNC’s Prime host and New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow. 

“It’s an overwhelming experience,” Blanchard said on Good Morning America. “But I gotta tell you, it’s filled with mixed emotions because I know that I’m the first, but I know that I’m not the first qualified. And that always has to be said. I know I’m standing on some very strong shoulders.” 

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The show will follow the story of Blow’s upbringing in Gibsland, Louisiana and the molestation he suffered at the hands of a family member. Blanchard will bring a fusion of jazz, gospel and classical opera to the show, which he refers to as “an opera in jazz.” 

“Doing this story is a very powerful one for me, because hopefully some people will come and see this story and then know him and his success and understand that you can overcome anything,” Blanchard said.  

He hopes that the history-making opera will open doors for other Black composers and artists to tell their stories at the Met.  

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