He is now, after last week’s electrifying performance in “Fire,” almost certain to return to the Metropolitan Opera with another piece of music.
Having enchanted audiences in the car-crash explosion of “Fire,” with its combination of exhilarating rhythmic force and vibrant high spirits, terence blanchard is “a real passion,” said Alexander Barandiaran, the opera company’s general manager. Mr. Barandiaran described the composition as a “fantastic piece of music that brings people into the orchestra pit.” The thrilling orchestra, and not Mr. Blanchard’s score, was at the heart of the audience’s response at Saturday night’s performance.
Director Pier Paolo Pasolini decided to add the orchestra’s clamor into the chaotic chaos of Mr. Blanchard’s score. Pairs of dancers emigrated from the first and second acts, adding rhythm and motion to the loud, pounding instruments in “Fire.” Mr. Barandiaran, as general manager, has urged that his performers return to opera regularly — and he will gladly repeat the experience.
Mr. Blanchard’s lyrics, found in the rage and death that comprise “Fire,” might not be all that different in tone and language from opera. On the other hand, the intensity and starkness of Mr. Blanchard’s language was captivating.
“Fire” involves escape from a burning car. Two characters — Kurt Peppermoss, a doomed addict, and Fiorello, a dying priest — move about with gunpowder, drugged with the hallucinogenic chemical bath salts. It is Mr. Blanchard’s most luminous score yet, complete with startling bursts of color in the orchestra, and endearing characters with profound, inner torment. The opera ends in surrealistic disaster, but with a magnificent triumph of grace.
Mr. Blanchard composed for orchestra when working for opera companies; the result of those years was “Juicy Oranges,” the personal initiative he wrote for a guest appearance at the Tanglewood festival. Now “Juicy Oranges” is routinely delivered by the Met, on what looks to be a good run.
“Right now we want to make more music with him,” Mr. Barandiaran said, “not just to release them and listen to them, but to share these pieces with the audience.” Mr. Blanchard’s connection to the Met is well established. Hiss himself last June during a thrilling performance of “Tenebrae,” and since then, as fans in the audience say, his “percussive writing and the memorable vocal lines” have been his playing for Mr. Barandiaran, who is known for his adventurous, adventurous programming.
Mr. Blanchard is part of that adventurous, adventurous programming, and his return makes the Met exciting again, Mr. Barandiaran said. “When I think of the Met, I think of Terence Blanchard.”