'Fire Shut Up in My Bones' comes to Chicago's Lyric Opera: 'It's all Black everything'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The electrifying "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" is coming to the Lyric Opera of Chicago next week.

The new age opera is praised as a groundbreaking achievement of color and culture.

It's about a young man's struggle to overcome the anguish and poverty of rural Louisiana and forge his own path.

"Fire Shut Up in My Bones" is based on a memoir by acclaimed journalist Charles Blow.

Grammy-winning jazz artist and composer Terence Blanchard created the opera.

"When we put this production together for the Metropolitan Opera and knew it would also be presented at the Lyric, I was absolutely thrilled, it's a dream come true for me," said co-director James Robinson. "I was just talking to Terence and he's so blown away by the theater and the orchestra here."

Blanchard blends opera with gospel and there's even a jazz combo.

"We need to go back to our roots and bring the music of what we experienced in childhood bring it into music and bring it into opera," said conductor Daniela Candillari. "It's incredibly thrilling to be a composer, to be a conductor and a stage director and singer because we get to create so many new pieces that are expanding our musical language, that are not replicating what happened in the past."

The opera's associate choreographer Jay Staten performed in the New York production.

"To be able to play a person I completely know, to be able to step into a cultural I completely know, it made me feel strong," said Staten.

"Fire Shut Up in My Bones" made history in the fall as the first opera by Black composer to open the The Met Opera's season.

"If you know the story of "Fire Shut Up in My Bones" - this is something that's happened in 9 million Black families, including my own," said Staten. "It's all Black everything, all the singers are Black, it was an issue at the Met because it had never been done, a place where years ago Black people weren't even allowed on the stage.

That's something Staten said he loves most about the opera.

"I love that it's unapologetically Black. It's a beautiful opera, everybody should see it everybody should hear it," said Staten.

"Fire Shut Up in My Bones" opens next week on March 24th and plays at the Lyric Opera through April 8th.
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