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Visionary artists bring jazz to opera

Wayne Shorter with Iphigenia score by Jeff Tang. courtesy of Real Magic.jpg
Jeff Tang
Courtesy of Real Magic/NPR
Wayne Shorter with Iphigenia score

Jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard is leading the movement toward inclusion of Black stories in the opera realm, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter realizes his dream with an operatic version of a classic Greek tale.

Wayne Shorter dreamed of writing a long-form dramatic piece since he was 19 years old. Now 88, he's teamed up with the brilliant bassist Esperanza Spalding, who is the librettist for and a performer in Shorter's major update of the Greek tragedy "Iphigenia" by Euripides.

New Orleans native Terence Blanchard is well known for the music he's written for Spike Lee's movies. Blanchard's second venture into opera, "Fire Shut Up in My Bones," is based on the memoir by Charles M. Blow, and is the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at the famed Metropolitan Opera. The response was so overwhelmingly positive, the Met is going to present Blanchard's first opera, "Champion," in April 2023.

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.