“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” Debuts at Lyric Opera

Photo Credit: Will Liverman and the company of Fire Shut Up in My Bones – photo Ken Howard Met Opera

Fire Shut Up in My Bones, is a new opera from six-time Grammy Award winner Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons, based on the memoir by New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones Chicago Defender
Will Liverman (left) and Latonia Moore (center) in Fire Shut Up in My Bones – photo Ken Howard Met Opera

The opera follows young Charles on his inspirational journey to becoming a man. We are taken through the turbulent 1970s in rural Louisiana, where Charles faces a chaotic home life and self-doubt on his path towards college and ultimately to self-acceptance. It is an opera that looks and sounds like America, as seen through the lens of Black culture and told by Black storytellers.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones brings together an extraordinary collection of talent—composer Terence Blanchard, one of the most influential figures in American jazz, whose score is a fusion of opera, jazz, gospel, and other musical traditions; first-time librettist Kasi Lemmons, a celebrated screenwriter, and film director; and a top-flight cast including many of America’s most brilliant singing actors, including Will Liverman, an alumnus of Lyric’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. When the opera had its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Opera last year, it instantly became the must-have ticket for the fall. Chicago audiences will soon discover why.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones Chicago Defender
Will Liverman – Photo by Jaclyn Simpson

Called “a voice for this historic moment” by The Washington Post, GRAMMY-nominated baritone Will Liverman will star in the Met Opera’s reopening production of Fire Shut Up in My Bones in fall 2021. Will is the recipient of the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant, and Sphinx Medal of Excellence.

In February 2021, Cedille released Will’s Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical chart. Whither Must I Wander (Odradek), with pianist Jonathan King, was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s “best classical recordings of 2020”.

The Chicago Defender spoke with the hometown star, Will Liverman about his role in “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” and the importance of telling black stories in the genre of opera.

Blanchard’s dramatic and heartfelt music combines with Lemmons’s elegant and poignant libretto to set the stage for James Robinson and Camille A. Brown’s cinematic direction and Brown’s dazzling choreography to create a singularly profound and moving experience. Fire Shut Up in My Bones is an opera for today.

Terence Blanchard will be in conversation with the Chicago Humanities Festival this Friday Night where he will discuss the opera. To attend this event, click here.

“Fire Shut Up in My Bones” debuts Thursday, March 24 at the Lyric Opera House located at 20 N. Wacker Drive. For Tickets visit www.lyricopera.org.

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