New York (AFP)

After a year and a half of the curtain drawn due to the coronavirus, the Metropolitan Opera in New York is back on stage and the public on Monday evening for a historic first: a work composed by a black musician, trumpeter Terence Blanchard.

In 138 years of existence and despite great African-American composers in the United States like William Grant Still, the prestigious house had never performed one of their operas.

It will be done on Monday, with "Fire shut up in my bones" by Terence Blanchard, a renowned jazz trumpeter famous for having written the soundtracks of many Spike Lee films.

The libretto, written by American filmmaker Kasi Lemmons, is based on the memoir of Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist who chronicles his coming of age as a black boy in the southern United States, struggling with racism, mistreatment and discovery of one's sexuality.

- Symbol -

At the end of 2019, the Metropolitan Opera made this announcement without specifying what place this work, already performed in Saint-Louis (Missouri), would take in its season.

A year and a half later, and after the George Floyd affair, the Met is showing it off for its post-Covid reopening, making it an even bigger symbol.

This "goes beyond me" told AFP the 59-year-old musician, awarded 11 times at the Grammy Awards and nominated for the Oscars, seeing it as a sign which "says more about what is happening in our country and in the art world ".

Actors Angel Blue and Will Liverman perform a scene during a rehearsal for Terence Blanchard's "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," the first opera staged by a Black composer at the Metropolitan Opera TIMOTHY A. CLARY AFP

In addition to the 3,800-seat Lincoln Center, where the Met Opera performs, the performance is scheduled to air simultaneously in Times Square and on the Marcus Garvey Park stage in Harlem.

During the pandemic, the Met, the largest employer in the United States in the field of live entertainment with more than 3,000 employees, also had to face long social negotiations, against a background of wage cuts, to be able to resume.

An agreement was finally reached at the end of August: it provides for salary cuts for musicians, with management pledging to restore some of it when ticketing revenues reach 90% of the level before the pandemic. .

© 2021 AFP