March 23, 2022

Contemporary opera “Blue” reviewed by I CARE IF YOU LISTEN

“If opera can be the barometer of the present, Blue is the opera for our times. Complicated family dynamics, racial tensions, and authoritarian law enforcement are all at the backbone of the new opera by Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson…”

Washington National Opera presents Blue, a contemporary opera on racial injustice in the US today, with a libretto by Tazewell Thompson set to music by Jeanine Tesori. Blue tells the tragic story of an African-American police officer whose son is killed by a fellow officer during a protest. Strongly resonating with the Black Lives Matter movement, the piece is equally groundbreaking thanks to its intimate and layered portrayal of African-American family life on the operatic stage.

“Tesori’s harmony and natural lyricism afford tension and release — a natural fit for Thompson’s tragic storytelling that is occasionally tempered by lighthearted relief.

Recorded, engineered, and produced by the company Soundmirror at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the album presents a persuasive version of the theater piece minus its staging. It also avoids deficiencies in balancing that are often a necessary compromise in live opera. The recording puts you neither in the orchestra pit nor onstage; instead, it makes you feel as though you’re hovering above the action, taking in the colorful orchestrations, the well-timed swells from the string section, the pitched percussion that is used sparingly for emphasis, the solo instruments — flute, trumpet, clarinet, violin — that peek above Tesori’s swathes of sound, and the triumphant tutti climaxes that round out sections with voices belting full tilt.”

Esteban Meneses

Read the full review on I CARE IF YOU LISTEN