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Best New Opera Winner Blue Leads Slate of Exciting

February 26 - April 12

Best New Opera Winner Blue Leads Slate of Exciting Events in February–March 2022

Eight opera-themed events offer a range of experiences

for new audiences and seasoned operagoers alike

Free and ticketed events

SEATTLE – Seattle Opera continues its 2021/22 season with a dynamic lineup of opera events, including community conversations, artist recitals, laser shows, and a timely and award-winning opera.

Leading the slate is Blue (February 26–March 12, 2022 in McCaw Hall), named the 2020 winner of Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. This portrait of contemporary African American life is the creation of librettist Tazewell Thompson (winner of five NAACP Awards and two Emmy nominations) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Tony Award winner best known for Fun Home). A story of love, loss, church, and sisterhood, Blue depicts a young couple celebrating the joy of family with the birth of their son. Later they lean on close-knit community in the wake of their son’s death at the hands of a police officer.

“I did not want to write about a family that was struggling,” says the opera’s librettist, Tazewell Thompson. “There has been enough of Black struggle and dysfunction on the screen and stage: absent fathers and desperate single mothers barely surviving. I wanted to show a positive household moving forward. In Blue, The Mother is educated and talented with equally talented and educated girlfriends. Surrounding The Father, a police officer, are his best friends, fellow police officers, men who are responsible, wonderful, aspiring fathers to their children.”

That focus on community has been particularly poignant for the opera’s singers. “Black love, community, and relationships are the real heart and soul of this opera,” says bass Kenneth Kellogg, who reprises his role as The Father from the original 2019 Glimmerglass production. “It opens you up in ways that are, hopefully, life changing. When we first performed it, people came up to me afterwards in tears, thanking me. I believe Blue is a life-changing experience.”

“Blue does not attempt to answer the longstanding complexities of race and violence that our nation has been grappling with for decades,” says Gordon Hawkins, who plays The Reverend. “Rather, it is an attempt to place us together in the same room of humanity, face to face, so that we may address these issues head-on…together.”

Composer Jeanine Tesori hopes that audiences will “travel in the shoes of the characters they see on stage—to vest so heavily in the character’s victories and tragedies that they experience them as their own. That is what causes the audience to cry and laugh. The character’s story is the audience’s story.”

Original cast members Kenneth Kellogg (The Father) and Gordon Hawkins (The Reverend) will be joined by three other singers from the 2019 world premiere at the Glimmerglass Festival: Briana Hunter (The Mother), Ariana Wehr (Girlfriend 1/Nurse/Congregant 1), and Camron Gray (Police Buddy 1/Congregant 1). Cast members new to the production include Joshua Stewart (The Son), Ellaina Lewis (Girlfriend 2/Congregant 2), Cheryse McLeod Lewis (Girlfriend 3/Congregant 3), Korland Simmons (Police Buddy 2/Congregant 2), and Joshua Conyers (Police Buddy 3).

Tickets are on sale now at a, with prices ranging from $35–$249.

To guide conversations surrounding the opera, Seattle Opera will center the voices of its artists and Black American community partners. “In presenting an opera as timely as Blue, we wanted to create space for our broader community to reflect on how the opera’s themes relate to their everyday lives,” says Alejandra Valarino Boyer, Seattle Opera’s Director of Programs and Partnerships. “Our community programming will give audiences the chance to hear directly from the artists about their experiences staging this work, as well as to join in the conversation about how the opera addresses the challenges and opportunities facing Seattle’s Black communities.” All community events are free and open to the public.


February 26
April 12
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