The US Navy may have the Blue Angels, but we have Angel Blue, at least for one night.
The high-flying soprano, who performs with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra on Saturday, August 7, has been a highly regarded soloist in America and abroad for over a decade. However, public awareness of her soared into the stratosphere when she played the role of Bess in the Metropolitan Opera’s new staging of Porgy and Bess, which opened in September 2019. “Sumptuous-voiced soprano Angel Blue is radiant, capturing both the pride and fragility of the character,” the New York Times proclaimed, and Bachtrack agreed, saying, “Angel Blue solidified her position as one of the new Met’s stars, singing Bess with a tall and beautiful tone from top to bottom.”
His talent and warm spirit, very apparent in a recent video interview, are both inherited traits. Blue’s father, a preacher, “was a beautiful and caring person. I admired him so much, ”she says. “He was also a classically trained singer who studied at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He always sang or played opera in the house, especially Leontyne Price, Richard Tucker and Jussi Björling. Blue’s grandfather was also a fan, introducing him to an earlier generation of stars including Lily Pons, Emma Tetrazzini and Enrico Caruso.
While Blue’s opera career began with lyrical soprano roles like Mimì in Bohemian and Micaëla in Carmen, she is now moving on to more dramatic roles. “I did my first Tosca in 2019, and debuted as Aida and Leonora in Il Trovatore coming, ”she said. After Santa Fe, she goes to the Metropolitan Opera to Fire shut up in my bones by Terence Blanchard – the company’s first opera by a black composer. (It’s not a good track record, but it’s a better one than Santa Fe.)
Reflecting Blue’s changing repertoire, the first half of the program here is entirely Verdi, starting with the sinfonia (overture) of Aida and the famous soprano aria from Act I, “Ritorna vincitor”. In it, Ethiopian Princess Aida sings about her conflicting emotions, having fallen in love with Radames, a young warrior in the hostile Egyptian army
(The Santa Fe audience originally went to see a Aida production starring Blue this summer, but it was postponed due to the pandemic. “It’s definitely coming back,” says David Lomelí, the opera’s new artistic director. “We just don’t know which season yet. “
Lucas Meachem, who plays the main character in the Eugene Onegin, sings the scene of the death of Rodrigo de Verdi Don Carlo. Blue and Meachem team up for the first semi-final, “Dite alle giovine”, the poignant duo of La Traviata in which Germont convinces the courtesan Violetta to abandon her son Alfredo, in the name of the honor of his family.
Such a concert provides a welcome showcase for the opera orchestra and, in this case, three apprentice singers: soprano Alaysha Fox, tenor Duke Kim and tenor Robert Stahley. They all appear in the second part of the program, which begins with a quick dive into the French repertoire for two selections by Jules Massenet. Thais, as well as “Since the day” for Blue. It’s a languid air by Gustave Charpentier Louise, in which the main character expresses his joy for his new lover Julien.
Then there are four excerpts from Puccini to complete the program, which ends with two of Tosca. Blue sings “Vissi d’arte” and is joined by Stahley for the delightful duet Act I love between Tosca and the painter Cavaradossi.
Lomelí describes this concert as “a preview of the attractions to come. I want to add more Verdi to our upcoming seasons, things that haven’t been done here yet, like A Ballo in Maschera and Il Trovatore. There are so many great young singers who can do this repertoire these days. There will definitely be more Angel Blue in our future too.
Angel Blue in Concert takes place at 8 p.m. on Saturday August 7 at the Santa Fe Opera House. Tickets are $ 52 to $ 254. Tickets for the simulcast in the lower parking lot of the opera house are $ 100 to $ 125 per car. 505-986-5900, santafeopera.org.