Angel Blue went to her first opera 29 years ago. Now, she stars in them.
Blue has just concluded a seven-show run as of Giacomo Puccini’s 1896 Italian opera “La Bohème” — in which she plays Mimí — at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
The seasoned soprano singer grew up following Black opera performers like Jesse Norman. But the artist she truly looked up to was her father who studied opera at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music and helped birth her interest in the art form. When she became a professional opera singer, he would watch her woo audiences.
When he passed, Blue’s relationship with the art almost met its demise.
“I wanted to quit,” she said. “If he wasn’t there to hear me sing, [I said], ‘why am I doing this? What’s the point in looking out into the audience if I don’t see him there?'”
“[But] I realized it wasn’t just him — why I was singing,” she said. “I really had a love for it.”
The opera realm — and Blue — are fortunate for the awakening.
Now that the California native, who’s performed throughout the globe, can add the a principal role in a classic opera to her resume, she has another mission: to keep opera alive.
During La Boheme”‘s run at the MET, Blue has been speaking to students attending music high schools in Brooklyn and Albany, encouraging them to relentlessly pursue their dreams as she did.
“The next thing for me right now in this position, is try to inspire other people that come behind me,” she said.
“[Opera] is not just kids from wealthier background. If it’s not an art form people are exposed to, it can easily fade. The opera isn’t just for White people,” Blue continued. “It’s also for people that are from the Bronx [and] Brooklyn.”
As far as Blue’s future in opera is concerned, there’s still work to put in. While most would feel emboldened to boast they’ve made it after performing at the MET, Blue will claims no such victory.
“[It’s] a dream come true,” Blue said. “[But] don’t feel like I’ve made it.”