A Met Opera seat at the Wheeler
Aspen Music Fest soloist Will Liverman leads Met’s ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’
As the Aspen Music Festival faithful scoured the summer 2022 season schedule when it was released in early February, it’s a good bet that just about everybody circled the return of Will Liverman as a can’t-miss concert.
Liverman will perform Mahler’s “Songs of a Wayfarer” at the Benedict Music Tent on Aug. 12 with the Aspen Chamber Symphony under conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya. The 33-year-old baritone is the opera singer of the moment, both nationally and with Aspen audiences. He made his Aspen debut last year in the Aspen Chamber Symphony’s triumphant post-vaccine return to the Benedict, with Robert Spano conducting and Liverman as soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
This fall, he made his star-making debut with the Metropolitan Opera, as the lead in Terence Blanchard’s adaptation of Charles M. Blow’s acclaimed and bestselling memoir “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” The performance will be broadcast at the Wheeler Opera House, presented by the Music Fest, as part of “The Met: Live in HD” series on Tuesday, Feb. 15.
It’s a historic show, marking the first time in its 138-year history that the Met has staged an opera by a Black composer. Blanchard, the Grammy winner best known for his iconic scores of Spike Lee’s movies over the past four decades, wrote the opera based on Blow’s 2014 memoir of trauma and triumph with a libretto by filmmaker Kasi Lemmons.
Conducted by Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the opera had the distinction of reopening the opera house this fall after an 18-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Liverman is already signed to return to the Met stage in fall 2023, playing Malcom X in the the Met production of Anthony Davis’s “X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X.” This, the second Met production by a Black composer, reminds audiences – in its showcasing of Liverman – on the talent and the stories they have been missing out on over the many generations of white-dominated opera.
The Aspen Music Fest’s “Met: Live in HD” series concludes Tuesday, March 1 with a broadcast of the Met performance of Massenet’s “Cinderella.”
While seeing Liverman and soaking up his rich star turns in Aspen and the Met may be a thrill for the opera faithful, this “Cinderella” is a bid for new audiences to join in. The production showcases an all-new English translation of the opera by Kelly Rourke in an abridged 90-minute adaptation. This more approachable version, with Isabel Leonard as Cinderella, promises to hook newcomers and kids who may not think opera is for them but may find, well, the shoe fits.
“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.