Blue (Double Album) (World Premiere Recording)

Aaron Crouch, Ariana Wehr, Briana Hunter, Christian Simmons, Gordon Hawkins, Joshua Blue, Katerina Burton, Kenneth Kellogg, Martin Luther Clark, Rehanna Thelwell, Roderick Cox, Washington National Opera Orchestra

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World Premiere Recording!

The 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. This is a double album from Pentatone.

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. Historically and musically, Blue compassionately tells a story that is at once painful and identifiable to so many of us.

The album is a production by Washington National Opera in association with San Francisco Classical Recording Company. It was recorded at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, Washington D.C., USA on June 21-29, 2021 by the team at Soundmirror Inc. with Producer Blanton Alspaugh, Recording Engineer Brandon Johnson and Mastering Engineer Mark Donahue.

NativeDSD exclusively presents Blue in its recorded Stereo and 5 Channel DXD format as well as exclusively in Stereo and 5 Channel DSD 256 and DSD 128 plus Stereo DSD 512. It is also available in Stereo and 5 Channel DSD 64.

The Music Critics Association of America named Blue the “Best New Opera” of 2020, while the Financial Times praised it as “an exceptionally strong new opera about race in America”, and hailed Tesori’s music as “eclectic, but assuredly so, full of beauty and eloquence.” The piece is sung by an excellent cast of vocalists, including Kenneth Kellogg as The Father, Briana Hunter as The Mother, and Aaron Crouch as The Son, while The Washington National Opera Orchestra is led by rising star conductor Roderick Cox.

Jeanine Tesori is one of the most important American composers of today, with a diverse catalog for musical theatre, opera, film, and television. Tazewell Thompson is an internationally acclaimed director, playwright, teacher, and actor. Washington National Opera is among the leading US opera houses, and has the mission to present stories that reflect the America of today.

Kenneth Kellogg – The Father, Bass
Briana Hunter – The Mother, Mezzo-Soprano
Aaron Crouch – The Son, Tenor
Gordon Hawkins – The Reverend, Baritone
Ariana Wehr – Girlfriend 1 / Congregant 1 / Nurse, Soprano
Katerina Burton – Girlfriend 2 / Congregant 2, Soprano
Rehanna Thelwell – Girlfriend 3 / Congregant 3, Mezzo-Soprano
Joshua Blue – Policeman 1 / Male Congregant 1, Tenor
Martin Luther Clark – Policeman 2 / Male Congregant 2, Tenor
Christian Simmons – Policeman 3 / Male Congregant 3, Bass-Baritone
The Washington National Opera Orchestra
Roderick Cox, Conductor

Tracklist

1.
Act I: Prologue
02:41
2.
Act I: Act I: Scene 1 Urgent Drop evrything
01:01
3.
Act I: I was in the heyday of being in love
00:53
4.
Act I: Damn girl
02:24
5.
Act I: You married a cop
00:33
6.
Act I: I love him
03:30
7.
Act I: What about your obsession
00:55
8.
Act I: I'm gonna strap my baby on my back
01:07
9.
Act I: You havin a what
01:14
10.
Act I: Forgive our sistah She knows not what she do
01:19
11.
Act I: Birth that baby boy to term
02:23
12.
Act I: Ha Ha ha ha
00:52
13.
Act I: I am having this boy I m keeping this boy close
00:50
14.
Act I: We wish on evrything you can wish on
01:53
15.
Act I: Scrape the wax off your wings
01:49
16.
Act I: Transition to Scene 2
01:16
17.
Act I: Act I: Scene 2 How you doin baby
01:25
18.
Act I: I m somebody s mother
02:06
19.
Act I: Hello mom
01:48
20.
Act I: Cup your hand under his head and neck
01:14
21.
Act I: Hello Hello my son
03:01
22.
Act I: Scene 3 Go
01:49
23.
Act I: Halftime We re all yours buddy
01:03
24.
Act I: How do you feel
02:03
25.
Act I: Welcome to the daddy club
01:17
26.
Act I: How did you produce a son
00:50
27.
Act I: I ve got a baby boy
00:56
28.
Act I: Here s a toast to father and son
01:17
29.
Act I: Scene 4
00:47
30.
Act I: You not getting off that easy
01:24
31.
Act I: Yes sir Got my own private warden
01:05
32.
Act I: Moved up here so you could spread out
01:49
33.
Act I: No New York is the richest city in the world
02:15
34.
Act I: Stat stat Statue of Liberty
01:28
35.
Act I: The world done change
01:27
36.
Act I: What am I supposed to do Stay alive
01:10
37.
Act I: You alive ain t you
00:46
38.
Act I: I am out there in the jungle
02:28
39.
Act I: Whatcha gonna do
01:10
40.
Act I: Let me go No my son I will never let you go
02:33
41.
Act II: Scene 1 What is your name my son
01:30
42.
Act II: Ah You are the father whose child was lost
01:55
43.
Act II: AhhhhYour heart is broken I hear it
01:42
44.
Act II: This is my badge
02:09
45.
Act II: When my boy was taken from me
00:50
46.
Act II: I did not come here seeking redemption
02:08
47.
Act II: Only a white God would sit
01:51
48.
Act II: You are walking in a terrible darkness my son
03:11
49.
Act II: May restoring waters clear the night s weeping
00:56
50.
Act II: In my hour of need I seek no salvation from you
02:16
51.
Act II: Scene 2 Come away from the window
01:56
52.
Act II: She sits in this matchbox disguised as a house
02:04
53.
Act II: She was lying in her bed In her own home
01:57
54.
Act II: Look at her She wears the captive shroud
01:16
55.
Act II: Let us go forth
00:59
56.
Act II: OH GOD Bring my baby back
02:26
57.
Act II: God give me back any part of my baby
02:48
58.
Act II: Scene 3 My heart my heart is heavy tonight
01:09
59.
Act II: Somebody
02:35
60.
Act II: A mother Clear out of her mind
02:37
61.
Act II: God we ask you take care of this boy
00:56
62.
Act II: Stay alive
00:40
63.
Act II: Son the light is turning amber Run
01:34
64.
Act II: We sing Christ wore the crown of thorns
03:08
65.
Act II: Cup your hand under his head and neck
01:46
66.
Act II: Epilogue
01:14
67.
Act II: I am out there in the jungle
00:54
68.
Act II: Set aside your side eat some
01:09
69.
Act II: You my son I got deep fried redeyed dripdried
01:18
70.
Act II: Kneaded pinched and prodded
03:31
71.
Act II: Heavenly Father we humbly thank you
03:18
72.
Act II: Hey mom hey dad
01:32

Total time: 02:01:06

Additional information

Label

SKU

PTC5186967

Qualities

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Channels

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Artists

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Composers

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Genres

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Executive Producers

Timothy O’Leary and Francesca Zambello (Washington National Opera) & Job Maarse (San Francisco Classical Recording Company)

Mastering Engineer

Mark Donahue (Soundmirror, Inc.)

Conductors

Instruments

,

Original Recording Format

Producer

Blanton Alspaugh (Soundmirror, Inc.)

Project Coordinator

David Butler (Washington National Opera)

Recording Engineer

Brandon Johnson (Soundmirror, Inc.)

Recording Location

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera House, Washington D.C., USA on June 21-29, 2021

Special Thanks

Special thanks to the music team of the world premiere production at The Glimmerglass Festival: John DeMain, Michelle Rofrano, Diana Jaensch, Daniel Schlosberg, and Ethan Cypress

Release Date March 25, 2022

Press reviews

Music Critics Association of North America

Best New Opera Award

Blue, an all-too-timely story of one family’s devastating loss — the teenage son of a black police officer is killed by a white police officer — is given universal resonance by Jeanine Tesori’s gripping, accessible music and Tazewell Thompson’s poignant, unflinching libretto.

Blue was selected as the recipient of this year’s award in mid-March, and we at MCANA are proud to be announcing the award now, in this difficult time, when many of its planned productions around the country had to be canceled, and because incidents like the one at the center of the opera continue to occur. We hope that this important work will see many more performances in the future.

Financial Times 5 out of 5

Blue deserves pride of place because it was a commissioned world premiere, and because it is very, very strong. Composer Tesori crosses all known boundaries, from acclaimed musicals (Caroline, or Change; Fun Home) to opera (A Blizzard on Marblehead Neck, also commissioned by Glimmerglass and first done in 2011, Zambello’s first season). She also teaches, works in film and television and is now writing a score for the Metropolitan Opera.

Two years ago Zambello asked Tesori and Thompson — a playwright and veteran Glimmerglass producer — for an opera about race in America. Inspired by James Baldwin, Claude Brown, Ta-Nehisi Coates and his own experiences, Thompson has produced a sensitive, poetic libretto. It tells of a black couple who are thrilled to have a baby boy, despite the warnings of friends who fear the fate awaiting so many young African-American men. The father is a New York City policeman, and between the acts the boy, now a rebellious teenager, is shot dead by a white cop. In the second act the father’s rage and the mother’s despair are gradually consoled with the help of their pastor.

Tesori’s music is eclectic, like so many new operas, but assuredly so. Her orchestration is rich and her vocal lines retain a beauty and eloquence, unlike so many new operas. Occasionally the opera skirts sentimentality, but is mostly loving in the first act and elegiac in the second. Thompson produces, and does an accomplished job. Donald Eastman’s décor consists of a back wall showing an angled city street façade that shifts colors hauntingly, along with roll-on set pieces.

 

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