LA Opera to Continue Digital Shorts with ‘The First Bluebird in the Morning’

By Logan Martell

On September 24, 2021, LA Opera will premiere the latest installment in its Digital Shorts initiative, which continues this season with “The First Bluebird in the Morning.”

This new work, created by an all-Black artistic team, explores the thoughts of an incarcerated man on the day before his release, tackling themes such as isolation, justice, and racism. The newly-commissioned music and libretto are done by Carlos Simon and Sandra Seaton, respectively, with direction and choreography by Jamar Roberts.

“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 in a press statement. “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.”

The film will feature solo dancer Lloyd Knight, a principal dancer for the Martha Graham Dance Company, and vocals from tenor Joshua Blue, who is set to make his LA Opera debut in 2022 as the Evangelist in “St. Matthew’s Passion.” Cellist Anja Wood and pianist Howard Watkins also provide musical accompaniment.

“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.”