‘Blue’ Grapples with Realities of Police Killings


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by Brenda C. Siler, The Washington Informer

Bass Kenneth Kellogg (left) plays The Father and mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter plays The Mother in the opera “Blue,” presented by the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center until March 25. (Courtesy of Scott Suchman)

The public is bombarded with media coverage about the aftermath of the police shooting of a young Black man. Family and friends are anguished and want answers. There are protest cries for justice. The home life and family relationships before a killing are not clearly known. Audiences grapple with this tragic but all-too-common event in “Blue,” an opera at the Kennedy Center until March 25.

Composed by Jeanine Tesori, with the libretto and lyrics by Tazewell Thompson, “Blue” is a beautiful yet heartbreaking story unfolding in a production presented by the Washington National Opera (WNO). With the father a police officer, and the mother a business owner, the production is in English with projected English titles.

“It’s an extremely powerful journey through many different emotions,” said Jonathan Taylor Rush, one of the conductors of the opera, during a pre-performance lecture. “From happiness to satisfaction to conflict, anger and even grief. All of these emotions are around the story of a young Black man and the reality of the life that he has to live.”

Read more about this opera.

Opera isn’t traditionally used to tell stories of the Black community, which is why it’s so notable when it does.

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