The trumpeter Terence Blanchard in the history of opera

Le trompettiste Terence Blanchard entre dans l'histoire de l'opéra

The fact that the opera composer black for the first time, programmed 136 years after the opening of the temple of music new york “says more about what’s happening in our country and in the world of art,” judge Terence Blanchard.

December 7, 2019 20.08

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The trumpeter Terence Blanchard in the history of opera

Maggy Donaldson

Agence France-Presse

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WASHINGTON — a Trumpet player and renowned composer of many soundtracks to the film director Spike Lee, Terence Blanchard down in history as the first Black man to see one of his operas staged by the prestigious Metropolitan Opera of New York.

This announcement “is beyond my person,” he tells AFP from his hotel room in Washington, a few hours before receiving an award for his work on Herbie Hancock’s Institute of Jazz Competition & Gala.

The fact that the opera composer black for the first time, programmed 136 years after the opening of the temple of music new york “says more about what’s happening in our country and in the world of art”, says the artist, 57-year-old.

Fire Shut Up In My Bones is the second opera of the jazzman. It could be played in the season 2021-2022.

“I have the feeling that this is going to be something historic, and not because it’s me,” said the musician, awarded 11 times for a Grammy and Oscar-nominated.

A “mix of emotions”

The man with the large glasses frame admit to having felt a “mix of emotions” when the announcement of this opera has been made public.

“Even if it is a true honor, we all know that I am not the first composer of african-american qualified to do an opera.”

“Personally, it is something huge, especially considering where I come from,” says the jazzman of New Orleans, in describing the racial segregation to which his father, aspiring musician, has been exposed.

“From it — a person who has never had the opportunity to sing opera, which has not had opportunities — and that his son, all of a sudden to have an opera produced at the Met; it’s huge.”

The news came as the institution was launched, Porgy and Bess, an opera centered on the lives of African-americans, but written by White.

Even in “the progressive experience that we call the United States”, the company has “a long way to go in its treatment of racial questions, of equality,” said Mr Blanchard.

Fire Shut Up In My Bones is inspired by the memories of the editorialist of the New York Times Charles Blow. The book tells the coming-of-age of a black boy in the south of the United States, in the face of racism, violence, and identification of sexual complex.

Call for stories if difficult request to “put his ego aside” and let the notes “out of self”, explains the trumpeter, also author of the soundtrack of the biopic of Harriet Tubman, who helped hundreds of slaves to flee the south of the United States in the Nineteenth century, Harriet.

“You can’t think of how people will react when you write”, he says, a padded effigy of the latter around the neck.

“You have to think what is this story — how is it that I can associate to this story? How do I want to tell this story?” explained he.

Friend of Spike Lee

Terence Blanchard can also boast of having played with the greats: Herbie Hancock, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder…

His long friendship with filmmaker Spike Lee to “grow in a way that[he] will not have[t] ever imagined”.

“It has a cinematic style so unique,” said Mr. Blanchard, on the subject of the oscar-winning director, known for Do the Right Thing, Malcom X, or BlacKkKlansman, including the jazzman has signed the original soundtrack.

“The film helped me a lot to write for the opera, because I had the chance to write for an orchestra,” says the artist.

Accustomed to juggling multiple projects, the musician says it’s important “not to limit”.

“I want to leave this world without regrets,” he says. And for me, the regrets taking root in the fear […] in order To overcome his fears, he must go out and take risks.”

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