Blue, a New Opera set in Harlem Tackles the Nation's Police Brutality Problem

Most times, operas are set in times where things have happened in the past, or even are renditions of past plays or novels. This time, Blue addresses a current problem facing today's world, police brutality. Blue addresses the issue we are sadly quiet used to seeing, the killing of an unarmed black man at the hands of a white cop.


Blue premiered on July 14 at the Glimmerglass Festival in New York. It is set to continue showings through August 22. The show tells the horrid story about race relations currently in America. The opera is set around a young black couple that has a baby boy. The son grows up and is shot and killed by a police officer at a protest. Following this, the first act ends and the second begins with the aftermath of the killing. What makes this worse, the boy's father is a police officer himself.


The director, Tazewell Thompson said, "I knew that I wanted to write the story behind the story of the headlines. That was in my head all along. That was in my heart. That was in my system. I wanted that story — how it affects the family. I really wanted to get to know the parents."He has wanted to go down the more private family themes for some time and Blue allowed him to do so.


Thompson lives in Harlem, which is also where the opera is set. Ironically, he has had his on issues with cops in the city, which helped him write this story. He said, "In my own neighborhood, I was frisked and slammed against the wall. I was scared. One police officer had his hand on his holster. And when they realized they had the wrong person, they didn't say 'Oh, we're sorry.' They said, 'stay out of trouble.'"


This is something Black people are facing around the nation, so to tell the story in such a peculiar way will be interesting for audiences of all types to see. When writing the opera, Thompson did something unique, in interviewing both Black police officers and parents of Black boys, noting that many of them have had "the talk" with their children at very young ages.


Blue already sounds like a work of art. This something the nation needs to see and needs to know about. Normally, things are placed into art that are the realities of those creating it. Thompson created this because cops killing unarmed Black people is unfortunately a reality we are facing in this country and must be dealt with head on.


Image Source: Karli Cadel/Courtesy of the festival

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