Directed and choreographed by Jamar Roberts, the new Digital Short features music by composer Carlos Simon and librettist Sandra Seaton
(Los Angeles) September 14, 2021 — LA Opera's Digital Shorts initiative, which pairs today's most exciting composers with acclaimed filmmakers, continues this season with a series of new short films that tackle themes of confinement, social justice and isolation. The first of these, The First Bluebird in the Morning, premieres online at 5pm (PT) on Friday, September 24, 2021.
Created by an all-Black artistic team, The First Bluebird of the Morning portrays an incarcerated man's thoughts on the day before his release. It features newly commissioned music by composer Carlos Simon and librettist Sandra Seaton, who conceived the piece after reflecting that African Americans are incarcerated in state prisons across the United States at more than five times the rate of whites.
"This piece is a soliloquy of sorts from the perspective of an inmate experiencing life as a prisoner while finding hope and solace in the freedom of a bluebird," said Carlos Simon. "I’ve composed dark, brooding music to represent the mundane life of prison, which transforms into a vibrant dance when the inmate gazes at and admires the colorful bird.”
Directed and choreographed by Jamar Roberts, the film features solo dancer Lloyd Knight, a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, and the voice of tenor Joshua Blue, who will make his mainstage LA Opera debut in 2022 as the Evangelist in St. Matthew Passion.
"One of the first things that I noticed about the music was a duality between the very harsh reality of the subject's current circumstances juxtaposed with descriptions of a more idyllic environment which the subject aspires to exist within," said Jamar Roberts. "This sets the tone for all of the images captured within the film, oscillating between ethereal, dream-like outdoor spaces, and the more hard-worn intimate spaces."
Additional performers include cellist Anja Wood and pianist Howard Watkins.
For viewing details and additional information, visit LAOpera.org/bluebird.
Presented through LA Opera's On Now digital platform, the Digital Shorts series pairs today's most exciting composers with acclaimed filmmakers to bring cutting-edge opera to audiences worldwide. The series, which launched last season, has showcased eight wildly diverse new films to date. Films in the series have subsequently won awards at international film festivals and have been televised on TCM.
About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be, with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming that preserves foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, given the extraordinary challenges of the time.
Even as LA Opera returns to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, the company will continue to create a wide range of digital content via its LA Opera On Now platform, which has accumulated more than 920,000 views since launching in the spring of 2020. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period. Those wanting to support LA Opera can visit LAOpera.org/donate.
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This project is generously supported by a consortium of donors to LA Opera's Contemporary Opera Initiative, chaired by Nancy and Barry Sanders.
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