DETROIT — The extraordinary partnership between the Michigan Opera Theatre (MOT) and The Aretha Amphitheatre is underway as Opera is set to premiere at the out-door riverfront venue for the first time.
Winner of the 2020 Music Critics Association of North America Award for Best Opera, BLUE is a new American opera
that tells the story of a loving family struggling against increasing odds, as a father (and proud member of the NYPD)
watches his son grow socially aware. Caught between them, the mother endures her own struggles as a peacemaker.
Even with her family’s beauty, talent, and success, she can never escape the painful knowledge that, every day, their
lives are at stake. Through its richly evocative libretto by playwright Tazewell Thompson, and masterful score by
composer Jeanine Tesori, BLUE offers an operatic telling of a story ripped from the headlines and all too familiar to far
too many; it is an opera for today.
“It’s super exhilarating,” said Gabrielle McLeod. McLeod, also known as the “Queen of Jit”, is an acclaimed dancer from Detroit who has taken her talents around the world. Based in Los Angeles, McLeod is thrilled to be back in her home city to perform in this unique space.
“To have jit as a form of dance that is connected with the opera is momumental for myself and the culture in general. Its really been exciting. We’ve been challenged in great amazing ways. Its a fun challenge and its been amazing to see everything come together.”
The MOT is aiming to provide an inclusive experience for the Detroit community.
“This collaboration is about bringing community together,” said Shahida Mausi, president, CEO of The Right Productions. Mausi’s entertainment and events management company operate the 6,000-seat amphitheater and welcomes this partnership.
“It’s what the arts do. We come together, we celebrate beauty, we think about things together. We exchange artistic forms and cultures. That’s what this is doing and if there is not a time that we have seen when it is more important to bring together communities, it’s this one.”
BLUE features an all-star cast, including Kenneth Kellogg (The Father). He embodies and embraces his role as he reflects on his real-life role as a father with a son.
“Unlike any other opera getting into this character, for the first time I feel like I’m able to a play a role that I really know. I am a father. I am a black man in America, who is acutely effected by things that are happening to black men in America. So, it doesn’t take a lot to get into this role. I understand it on a very intimate level, being the father of a young black boy who was born at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
The Aretha and MOT partnership amid months of canceled opera performances and a year of racial reckoning following the murder of George Floyd. MOT is aiming to provide a broader appeal for diverse audiences of the Detroit community.
“We are delighted to produce and present our work throughout the city and the region to convey that will not limit performances of opera and dance to The Opera House alone,” said Wayne Brown, President, CEO of Michigan Opera Theatre. “This is a launching. This is designed to unfold. To share highlights of what’s to come.”
The opera production of Blue will run on September 11th and 12th at The Aretha Amphitheatre in Detroit.