New operas deal with timely issues of identity, race, politics

Posted on: June 3, 2019

“The story of the Central Park Five,” the five African-American and Latino teenagers who were charged and later exonerated in the beating and rape of a jogger in Central Park in 1989, “has already been told in books, documentaries and a new Netflix series. Now it is becoming an opera,” writes Michael Cooper in Thursday’s (5/30) New York Times. “ ‘The Central Park Five’ is one of several new works through which American opera companies are exploring questions of race, identity, personal history and the criminal justice system, as the often staid world of opera works to catch up to other art forms.… The same day ‘The Central Park Five’ opens [at Long Beach Opera] in California, ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones,’ a new opera by the jazz trumpeter and film composer Terence Blanchard based on the memoir by Charles M. Blow, will open at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. In July, the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, N.Y., will give the premiere of ‘Blue, an opera by the Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori about an African-American family whose son is killed by a police officer…. It is a change for an art form that told such stories only sporadically, if at all, in the past.”

Posted June 3, 2019