1. The story
Blue tells the story of a black family from Harlem which is torn apart by a tragic event. The father is a cop, ‘a black man in blue’, while the son has decided to stand up against what he perceives as a racist police force. The father thinks his son is putting himself at risk by taking part in street protests as a young black man, while the son feels he has a duty to resist inequality. The son’s murder at the hands of a white police officer proves them both right.
2. A story ripped from the headlines
The opera portrays the people behind the news stories we have seen in recent years about police brutality against people of colour, showing the lives of the people before and after a devastating event. Blue had its world premiere at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2019, and while the subject of police brutality has long been an issue in the US, the opera gained broader relevance following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. That year the Black Lives Matter movement went global, inspiring thousands to take to the streets in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Dutch National Opera presents the European premiere of this opera, which deals with a topic that is no less relevant to this country.
3. The Composer: Jeanine Tesori
American composer Jeanine Tesori is mainly known for her work for the Broadway stage. Every one of her five musicals was nominated for a Tony Award, with the show Fun Home actually winning. Apart from musicals, Tesori also writes for film and for the operatic stage. For the 2019 edition of the festival, the Glimmerglass Festival asked her to compose an opera about the role of racism in contemporary American society. Librettist and director Tazewell Thompson proved to be the ideal collaborator for this project.
4. The Librettist and Director: Tazewell Thompson
Tazewell Thompson is an internationally acclaimed theatre and opera director, award-winning playwright, librettist, actor and teacher. He has directed more than 150 productions in theatres and opera houses around the world. His opera Blue, a collaboration with composer Jeanine Tesori, won the 2020 Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best New Opera. Blue was also on the New York Times’ year-end list for 2019 for the best in classical music.
5. The Conductor: Kwamé Ryan
Born in Canada, Kwamé Ryan grew up on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, where he received his early musical education. After studying musicology and conducting, he served as the music director of Oper Freiburg between 1999 and 2003 and the artistic and music director of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine between 2007 and 2013. He has been the guest conductor of several orchestras in Germany, France, the US and the UK, and regularly leads the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. He recently returned to La Monnaie in Brussels for the world premiere of Kris Defoort’s opera, The Time of Our Singing. Ryan is making his debut with Dutch National Opera with Blue.
- Blue will run from 7 to 22 November 2022 at Dutch National Opera.