Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Praise for Blue

Kenneth Kellogg, Briana Hunter and Aaron Crouch as The Father, The Mother and The Son in the world premiere of Blue at the 2019 Glimmerglass Festival. Karli Cadel / The Glimmerglass Festival

In February 2022, audiences can experience the Settle Opera premiere of Blue, the 2020 winner of Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. This portrait of contemporary African American life is the creation of librettist Tazewell Thompson (five NAACP Awards, plus two Emmy nominations) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Tony-winner known for Fun Home). 

A story of love, loss, church, and sisterhood, Blue depicts a young couple celebrating the joy of family with the birth of their son. Later they lean on close-knit community in the wake of their son’s death at the hands of a police officer. See what the press are saying about this important piece, which received its premiere at the 2019 Glimmerglass Festival. 

"Blue demands its place on the stage and within a tradition that for centuries has excluded visions of Black experience. Just as opera helped elevate Blue, so, too, can Blue elevate the future of American opera." — The Washington Post 

"A wrenching and remarkably original opera that explores deeply personal emotional truths and gives them universal resonance." —The Wall Street Journal

"Ms. Tesori’s strong yet subtle score is combined with Mr. Thompson’s grimly elegant and snappy words — one of the best librettos I’ve heard in a long while." —The New York Times

"The libretto by Tazewell Thompson, who also directed the production, is American verismo: raw in its directness, devastating in its honesty." — Classical Voice North America 

"Blue is an opera for our times. Long may it live! And may it serve to help heal what ails us." —DC Theatre Scene

Briana Hunter (mother), with Mia Athey, Brea Renetta Marshall, and Ariana Wehr (girlfriends) in "Blue." Karli Cadel / The Glimmerglass Festival
"Thompson’s lithe, cutting libretto unburdens itself from the documentary obligations of channeling headlines to render the suffering of a single family as something gracefully grave, painfully visceral and often beautiful — a 'CNN opera' this is not." — The Washington Post 

"Blue begins as comedy worthy of Mozart or Rossini in the taut, brisk, bright quartet of women celebrating the mother’s announcement, which devolves into a cautionary trio dripping with irony. Likewise, the father’s mirror-image quartet with his fellow cops makes for delightful musical (hmm, make that operatic) fun. The downward shift in mood is sure and steady, credible and dreadful." — Classical Voice North America 

"(Tesori's) music speaks directly to the heart." —Opera News 

"(Blue) solidified my feelings about how opera continues to live and breathe and is not something simply a museum piece—not that Handel, Verdi and others in the mainstream repertoire don't fill my life with beauty and dreams at a time when we can use all of those commodities that we can get. It convinced me further of the importance of the libretto in turning an operatic work into a living, breathing entity." —Broadway World

"The libretto tells a simple story, almost mundane in view of what occurs so frequently. One becomes almost anesthetized at its horror. It is a parable and not a documentary account and it is more powerful for its simplicity." —James Karas Review and Views 

Credit: Karli Cadel / The Glimmerglass Festival

"Tesori’s richly orchestrated score evokes Puccini, jazz, blues, and spirituals, and features potent arias. She has a notable gift for creating characterful vocal ensembles." — Classical Voice North America 

"I enthusiastically recommend Blue to veteran opera-goers and to lovers of American musical performance, as well as to people new to either of these art forms." —Opera Warhorses 

"Throughout, Tesori’s luminous score swirls together multiple musical vernaculars into dreamlike textures that shift between moods and modes, blending memory and prophecy." — The Washington Post 

"Tesori’s musical style beautifully fit Tazewell’s libretto." —Opera Warhorses

"The lack of action in Blue’s Act II seems purposeful. It presents a situation so impossibly melancholy that no plot twist, no deus ex machina, can possibly dispel the sorrow. Blue here becomes not a conventional opera but a ritual—a memorial service in which the audience, as much as the characters onstage, forms the congregation." —Opera News 

"(Tazewell Thompson's) personal history is evident in Blue’s emphasis on family structure, family relationships and religious belief that permeate the work. It also results in unique conversations that both people who are within Black communities and people who are not, should find absorbing." —Opera Warhorses

Kenneth Kellogg, Briana Hunter and Aaron Crouch as The Father, The Mother and The Son in the world premiere of Blue at the 2019 Glimmerglass Festival. Karli Cadel / The Glimmerglass Festival

Seattle Opera presents Blue Feb. 26 – March 12, 2022 at McCaw Hall. For tickets, casting, and more information, go to seattleopera.org/blue

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