Angel Blue

Soprano
Headshot of a woman.

Photo by Jack Hill

Music Credit: “NY” composed and performed by Kosta T from the cd Soul Sand, used courtesy of the Free Music Archive. 

“Si mi chiamano, Mimi” from the opera “La Bohème,” composed by Giacomo Puccini, performed by Angel Blue. Used courtesy of Angel Blue

Jo Reed: Welcome to Art Works, the weekly podcast from the National Endowment for the Arts—I’m Josephine Reed.

That is soprano Angel Blue singing “Si mi chiamano, Mimi” from the Puccini opera “La Bohème.”  Angel Blue may be a California native but she is an international star in opera houses around the world. Equally at home in recitals or in opera performances, Blue is known –and I’m quoting the critics now--for her voice of “shimmering beauty”   that is “always perfectly controlled and consistent throughout her expansive range.” A luminous presence on the stage, Blue’s vocal gifts are matched equally by her innate acting skills in roles like Violetta from “La Traviata”, Tosca, or Mimi in “La Bohème”. In fact, Blue made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 2017 singing Mimi and was praised by the New York Times  as “the clear star…” “combining power, as needed, with sensitivity and warmth.” Two years later, Angel Blue was back at the Met—this time opening the season as Bess in a Grammy Award-winning production of Porgy and Bess. Once again, she received rapturous reviews—with one critic writing,  “It’s impossible to decide which aspect of Blue’s performance was the most enchanting: her radiant voice…; her joyous stage presence; or her nuanced take on the contradictory character of Bess…” On September 27, after the long pandemic shut-down, the Metropolitan Opera will open its new season—and Angel Blue will be on the stage again, this time with baritone Will Liverman, in the opera “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” composed by Terence Blanchard and which has been supported by arts endowment since its development period.  It’s based on the memoir by Charles Blow…and it marks the first time an opera written by a Black composer will be performed at the Metropolitan Opera. I had the opportunity to speak with Angel Blue late last month as she was in rehearsals for the work and that’s exactly where I began our conversation.

Jo Reed: First of all, Angel Blue, thank you for joining me.   

Angel Blue: Thank you very much for inviting me.

Jo Reed:  I can imagine how busy you are! Of course, the season opener is always an event but after the shutdown and then opening with “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” this is very special.

Angel Blue: It is. Yes, it is. I think that the opera will be something very emotional for people; I know it is for me just being in rehearsal the last couple of days and reading the book, the memoir “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” by Charles Blow. The story is one of redemption and I think that’s what everyone is sort of looking for right now after having this 18 months of lockdown and no performances for most of us. I know for myself, I’ve only had a handful of performances that have been in person and with a live audience. So I think this will be a very momentous occasion and incredibly special for not just us as performers but I think for the audience as well because we’ve missed them. I think most artists will say that they’ve missed the audience but I know for myself I’ve really missed seeing people in the audience and their reactions to what we’re doing onstage so this will definitely be a very special evening.

Jo Reed:  I don’t want to put you on the spot but can you just give us a thumbnail sketch of what “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is about, what the story is?

Angel Blue: Yes. Well, I hope I do it justice because I’m still sort of really processing the message of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” I’m a huge fan of Charles Blow, that’s the first thing I should say, and the memoir that he’s written of his life is stunningly beautiful and incredibly upsetting in so many ways. The story begins with Charles returning to Gibsland, Louisiana, where he is from, and he had a very difficult upbringing. He was poor. He was raised in a very violent community. His mother had five boys. She was basically a single mom, and she had a husband who ran around on her and she raised her boys by herself.  And in this community Charles really stood out because of his intellect, his personality and how adventurous and interested he was. So the story starts with him coming back to his hometown to seek revenge on his cousin, Chester, who molested him when he was a little boy; I believe he was seven years old. And the character that I play is Destiny, and Destiny is sort of the good angel/bad angel on his shoulder. And throughout the opera I’ll say you just see how Charles grows up, how his life changes as he becomes a man, from childhood and being pushed away by his mom and pushed away by his family members and sort of just overlooked to going into college and finding his way in journalism to him going back to Gibsland and realizing that that revenge isn’t actually what he wanted and what he was really seeking was already there within himself and that was the forgiveness that he finds in his heart for his cousin. That’s why I call “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” a story of redemption. There’s so much in the opera, I apologize-- I’m not really able to succinctly summarize it. The one thing I can say is that it is a story of redemption, and it is a story about race and forgiveness and I think during this time of this pandemic that we’ve all been through this is definitely something I think everyone can relate to. I didn’t grow up like he did at all but there are definitely parts in the opera where I have been able to put myself into his position and the story is the same for me so I do believe that many people will be moved by this piece definitely in terms of forgiveness and redemption.

Jo Reed: I read the book and I’m very fortunate because I live outside of Washington, D.C. He’s one of the columnists of my paper so I’m privileged. He’s a wonderful writer and that book is so honest.

Angel Blue: It is very.

Jo Reed: And opera is first of all so strenuous to begin with and I don’t think people realize what you all have to do on that stage to get your voices out but you also have to hit these beautiful notes while you’re acting and I’d like you to talk about that combination especially with a story like this one, which is sung in English, which has to make a difference for you since it’s your own language.      

Angel Blue: Yes, it definitely makes a difference that we’re singing in English because I have to say it’s actually harder to sing in English because I speak it every day and I speak it very relaxed <laughs> so I do have to work on some of my English diction so that I can be understood on stage. I think that the strenuous part of opera as you said is definitely being able to project one’s voice and in a piece like this there’s so many nuances because Terence Blanchard is a jazz musician so there’s a lot of nuances in this piece actually that I think will help all of us with that kind of projection over the orchestra but there’s also so many very intimate moments that he’s created, jazzy moments even, that we’re able to pull back and still be heard over the orchestra so I’m looking forward to those especially. I think one of the-- <laughs> probably one of the most interesting things for me that just in the last few days that I’ve been rehearsing is my character, Destiny. She sings an aria called “Peculiar Grace” and in the book Charles mentions grace and he does mention destiny and such and we’re calling him the boy with peculiar grace and when I’m speaking this aria and I say “speaking” because the way that Terence Blanchard has written it is that it’s not like this big, grand shana. It’s not this big thing. It’s more about what Destiny is saying and how she is describing Charles and there’s a lot of moments like that in the opera so I believe that I’ll be able to project that for sure over the orchestra. It’s mainly strings in the orchestra, and it’s a lot of tremolo and very pianissimi in that section but I particularly love that aria just because it’s not about singing in that moment; it’s about speaking and getting the audience to understand how Destiny sees Charles Blow and that for me is a very just great moment in the opera.

Jo Reed: Camille Brown and James Robinson are co-directors and you worked with them on “Porgy and Bess.” Can we talk about the rehearsal process? This is a fairly new work, “Fire Shut Up in my Bones,” which means you’re really doing a lot of the creating.

Angel Blue: Yes, absolutely we are. I’ve worked with both James and Camille two years ago for “Porgy and Bess” as you said. What I love about their direction and them together as a team is that they allow for creativity from the artist. It’s not like it has to just be their ideas or their way of thinking of the character or the staging is the only way to do it and I also appreciate that they are both very sensitive to the fact that we are singing. It’s possible sometimes to work with a director who’s like “I know you’re singing but I want you to stand on your head and do the splits and sing a high C.”   This rehearsal process is a bit different in that as you said it’s the second time this piece has been done. The first time was at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and oftentimes when we’re performing we’re not performing music where the composer and the librettist and also the main character of the story where all of these people are living. So to have Terence Blanchard in the rehearsal room and the librettist, Kasi, in the rehearsal room and to have read Charles Blow’s book and to know that he’ll be coming to see it brings about a different aspect of creativity. So it- it’s wonderful to be able to ask not just the director but the composer, “What do you mean in this section? How did you feel when you were writing this? What is your feeling on this? What is the tempi in this part?” Those things are invaluable because as opera singers we don’t often have that opportunity. If I’m singing Mimi or “Traviata” or “Aida” I don’t have the opportunity to ask Verdi or Puccini what did they mean in this section. So the rehearsal process is special as will be the opening night is very special as well. It’s also a much more intimate feeling this time around and I really believe that has a lot to do with the fact that we’ve been away from each other for so long.

Jo Reed: Are there pandemic protocols in the rehearsal process? How--

Angel Blue: <inaudible>

Jo Reed: Yeah, I would imagine it would be.

Angel Blue: Yes, there are a lot of pandemic <laughs> protocols. So I have to say I was recently in Russia just two months ago I think or maybe three months now but Russia when I was there, if I may say this, it was like a party. Every time I’ve ever sung in Russia I’ve always felt like I’ve just had a really good time, it’s just like going and having a party with the other artists there, but people were not really wearing masks and everyone-- we were tested daily but there wasn’t really any protocol in terms of the pandemic. It’s very different <laughs> at the Metropolitan Opera. All of us are vaccinated and we are tested twice a week and we are required to wear our mask at all times even when singing so you can imagine it’s very-- it’s strict but I think we all appreciate that. It’s a way to keep us all safe and so that we can all do our jobs.

Jo Reed: Wow, even when singing.

Angel Blue: Even when singing.

Jo Reed: I was not expecting that.

Angel Blue: <laughs> Yes, even when singing. <laughs>

 Jo Reed: Angel, music is bred in your bones practically. You come from a musical family. Tell me about your family.

Angel Blue: Oh, man. Thank you for the question. I love them; they’re wonderful people. We are all musically inclined. I got my love of opera from my dad and my father grew up in Alabama and West Virginia and I believe he spent a little bit of time in Mississippi as well but he loved opera and he loved opera because my grandfather, his dad, liked Enrico Caruso so I have always known about the great opera singers and my dad actually had a lot of records of people like Lily Pons and of course Caruso, Tetrazzini, and he liked the movie actor/singers like Jane Powell and Mario Lanza so I always just had music in my life from my dad. My mother was a violinist and a pianist and then, goodness, so I have four siblings. My oldest sister played piano; my second-to-the-oldest sister played guitar; my sister who’s just above me, Heather, she sings and also played the harp. I play the piano, the alto saxophone and the bass guitar. I play the alto saxophone very badly I should say; I don’t want anyone to think that I actually can play it very well; I play pretty badly but it is an instrument that I do know how to play, just not very well. And then after me is my brother, James, and James I would say is the one out of all five of us who is the real musician in the family because he can compose and arrange music. His first instrument though was the drums and he also plays the bass guitar, the guitar, the alto saxophone and the piano so he’s really a musician. He’s currently serving in the United States Army.

Jo Reed: Your father was Sylvester Blue, great, great singer who I’ve heard and his voice was extraordinary--

Angel Blue: Thank you.

Jo Reed: -and he was a preacher and you had a family band.

Angel Blue: We did. <laughs> I played the bass, my dad sang, my sister sometimes would sing and sometimes she would play a harp or she would play a keyboard behind my mom, my mom would play the piano, and my brother would play the drums, and we were Sylvester Blue Evangelistic Association. <laughs>

Jo Reed: Do you remember the first time you went to the opera?

Angel Blue: I was four years old. It wasn’t actually an opera; it was a concert version of “Turandot” in Cleveland, Ohio. I don’t know why my parents took me to that to this day. I’ve asked my mom because my father has passed away but I asked my mom; I always say, “Why did you and Dad take me to that opera? What made you-- I was four. Why did you think I would sit still?” And my mom said, “Well, number one, you knew how to act because we trained you” <laughs> and then she always said that I just kind of always had music at the forefront of my mind. She said I was always singing and always just making noise and stuff so they took me to see “Turandot” and to this day I still have that feeling; I don’t know why it’s so strong but I remember how I felt sitting in that seat watching the people onstage singing and I’m so grateful for that moment because who knows what would have happened had my parents not taken me to that concert.

Jo Reed: When you were at university as an undergraduate you studied classical piano in fact.

Angel Blue: I did. I was a classical pianist for 14 years. The last thing I was actually learning was the third movement of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and I never finished it <laughs> but that was the last thing I learned. <laughs>

Jo Reed: Then you switched to voice when you went to graduate school. What was missing? What were you feeling?

Angel Blue: I just wanted to sing. I feel like I sound so silly saying that but it is very true; I just wanted to sing. And honestly I always just wanted to sing opera. That bug that bit me when I was four years old watching that concert--it stuck and so when I was an undergrad and going into graduate school I just thought I have to sing; there has to be something that-- some way that I can get involved in doing operas and doing them professionally one day. So it’s that thing where everybody has a lot in life and that lot I believe-- is something that burns like a fire shut up <laughs> in your bones and-- something that burns in your bones and if you don’t do it, you’ll go nuts <laughs> I suppose and so that’s where that came from for me.

Jo Reed: I wonder about the similarities and differences between gospel singing and opera singing.

Angel Blue: Hmm. I don’t feel that they are different at all. I don’t change my voice or anything doing opera or gospel. I’m still using the same technique, the same breathing techniques and everything. The only thing that’s different is how I hear it so when I hear an opera or if I’m learning something I think of it in terms of being more straight. Let’s take “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” If it was da- da- da- da- da- da- da- da then I’m going to sing it exactly like that if it’s opera. Does that make sense?

Jo Reed: Yep.

Angel Blue: Okay, cool. So if it’s gospel then that means I have a little bit of liberty so I could do something like da- da- da- da- da- da- da- da- da- da. It’s still the same exact notes; it’s just that the freedom is just a little bit more. In opera I just think that the singer-- and I’m specifically speaking of singing opera-- the singer has to be a little bit more strict with what’s written on the page whereas in gospel you have a little bit more freedom.

Jo Reed: I think that’s a very good distinction. I find it helpful. Thank you. You put yourself through college by entering in beauty pageants--

Angel Blue: Yes, I did.

Jo Reed: --and I cannot help but wonder how these pageants helped prepare you for opera because you want to talk about pageantry.

Angel Blue: Yeah. <laughs> I loved pageants. Pageantry is really fun. It’s very similar to opera in that the amount of preparation that goes into it is just super intense. I put myself through college doing pageants and that started in about 2000-- I want to say 2002 or 2003 and I didn’t finish competing in pageants until I want to say I think 2006-- probably 2006-- maybe-- no, sorry-- 2007 was my last year and pageants taught me I think to really focus on myself and I don’t mean that selfishly. I just need to really focus on what I’m doing and not to be so concerned with what other people have going on because it’s really easy in pageants-- I always tell people I’m 5 foot 11-1/2 so I’m basically 6 feet, if I put on socks <laughs> I’m like 6 feet, and I don’t have a petite frame or anything and when I was competing in pageants I was quite thin and I would be standing next to-- onstage in a swimsuit next to a woman who would be 5 foot 2 with a very petite frame and I didn’t look anything like her. And so I just learned quickly not to compare myself to anyone else. It’s hard to do that, it’s very difficult, but in opera some people-- when I came out of the young artist program there were some singers who were just starting an international career right away and as soon as they turned like 25 they had a manager and they were singing all over the world and they were making these great, big debuts and here I was still kind of meandering around Los Angeles trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. So it really helps me to try to focus more on what I have going on and what I’m doing and to also be really thankful for what makes me unique, which is being me, and I think that’s something that I-- well, I know it’s something that I use to this very day. It’s very helpful to have done pageants and to now be in the opera world. They’re quite similar I have to say.

Jo Reed: I see a real similarity myself. You mentioned you were at L.A. Opera’s Young Artist Program but then you went to Spain after two years of being in the artist program and you said that was really life changing for you.

Angel Blue: It was. I had never been out of the United States other than a few times. I shouldn’t say that because I had been out of the United States but not for singing.  So when I was invited to be in the young artist program in Spain at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain, I jumped at the opportunity and Europe changed my life and I will always be thankful. I know that sounds probably really weird <laughs> but Europe really did change my life and also it changed my perspective on where I fit into the opera world and it changed my perspective on what I was capable of in opera. I had no idea that there were so many young people who were in their early twenties, mid twenties who loved opera so much and were fanatical about going to the opera and watching different operas and such and I didn’t really see that until I went to Europe. I also didn’t know that in Germany- Germany’s like the South, like in Louisiana where we used to go visit my cousins. And every quarter has a church and in Germany every corner has an opera house <laughs> so that really opened up my eyes to just the fact that opera was just more mainstream than I knew it to be and I’m thankful for that experience.

Jo Reed: Opera is not known for its diversity on the stage, in the auditorium, behind the curtain or in the boardrooms and I wonder if it was more open for you or to you in Europe and in the United States, if you had more room to navigate.

Angel Blue: I’ll be 100 percent honest. Yes, absolutely. <laughs> Absolutely. When I went to Europe I was 25 or 26 and I was being offered roles left and right. Some of them were totally wrong for me and I knew that I had to say no to them because of my age or because of my lack of experience or what have you, but I was being offered things and  I have found in my experiences-- I’ve been an international opera singer now for I think this is the fifteenth year-- yes, fifteenth year for me and when I’m in Europe-- this is of course just my experience-- I don’t feel like they see me and they think okay, this is a black woman singing Mimi. I think they look at me and they think this is an American woman, okay, we might have to work with her on her languages or whatever. In Europe I’ve sung more roles than I have in the United States. I’ve actually only performed at four opera companies in the U.S. so I mean I think that speaks a lot to how open minded European houses are and I think American opera houses are becoming open minded and that’s a very strong opinion but it’s just mine; it doesn’t mean that that’s the way things are.

Jo Reed: No. I understand completely it’s your experience.

Angel Blue: To me it just seems like in Europe people are-- the companies have been more open to diversity.

Jo Reed: Have you seen changes in American opera companies over the past couple of years since racial equity has been more front of mind?

Angel Blue: In the United States, the last one-- the last year I have seen a difference but is that difference actually something that is going to stay with us? I have no idea. I have been saying for the last year and a half that--okay, I’m a black soprano. It’s not like oh, “Hey, we hired a Violetta, great. Our job is done. Angel came in. She represented the diversity, the equality or the equity and the inclusion that we needed and now we’re done”. It doesn’t work like that. It’s a change of heart really; it has to be a change of heart and I think that if people, all of us, myself included, if we really do unto others as we want others to do to us then the DEI, BIPOC, all of the things that we’ve been speaking about within the opera community will be fixed. It has to be a change of heart.

Jo Reed: Thank you for talking about that so frankly. I’m going to switch gears here because I’d like to talk for a moment about Puccini because I love Puccini and I know you do too--

Angel Blue: <laughs> Yes, I do.

Jo Reed: --and “La Boheme” has a special place in your career and in fact it was the role of Mimi that was your first performance at the Met in 2017 and I’m so curious because it’s an iconic role in an iconic opera in an iconic opera house and how did you approach that role and what was this like for you?

Angel Blue: I just wanted to sing it. <laughs> I just wanted to sing and sing well. I think all of the things that go with the sort of spectacle of the thing I had to put out of my mind so that I could focus on what I needed to do and that was of course just sing the role well and stay focused on what I had to do because when I start thinking about the company that I’m singing with or <laughs> the orchestra that’s playing in the pit or even singing Puccini when I start thinking that way it can become overwhelming so for me I was just really trying to stay focused. <laughs>

Jo Reed: You’re active on concert stages and recitals and I’m wondering balancing the two between opera and recitals how that works for you.

Angel Blue: It’s hard. I’m not going to lie; it’s hard. At one point I thought I was going crazy because I was learning so much music all of the time and I thought okay, well, maybe I should just choose one, just say, “Okay, I’m only going to sing operas and I won’t do recitals, I won’t do concerts,” but it’s just not-- it’s not fair to who I am as an artist I think because I love so much to do recitals and I love so much to do concerts as well, and I think having those three things on my season every year is something that really helps me to stay balanced in the career. So to balance them it’s just a matter of learning things hopefully before they have to be performed but just maintaining the excitement that I have for all three of them because they are all very different but they all provide something for me as a singer and as an artist. I feel like I have so much more freedom in a recital because I can take people on a journey whereas when I’m doing an opera-- I’m sort of restricted to the character that I’m playing and how the director and the conductor want the piece to go so I enjoy all three. It can be very difficult but for sure if I didn’t have all three, I don’t think I’d be as happy.

Jo Reed: I’m so curious about because you’ve sung in so many different countries. Are audiences different in different countries?

Angel Blue: One hundred percent, yes. <laughs> Yes. I have to say the Italian audiences are-- it’s like going to a football game-- like an American football game with cheering and they don’t care if the aria’s finished; they don’t care if the orchestra’s still playing. They just go full out just applauding. I love that about the Italian audience but likewise if they don’t like something they will boo and that’s wild. <laughs> That’s wild, and then there’s the English audience. I did my Royal Opera House debut two years ago and they’re so attentive; it’s like you can hear them paying attention to every aspect of the opera. And there’s a part of me that is scared of that <laughs> because if you make a mistake they know but it’s really nice to have an audience that’s so attentive like that. I think the most polite audience though is the United States, whether someone performed great or not great you’ll still get some applause. <laughs>

Jo Reed: Do you try to open opera up to new people who haven’t experienced it yet? It’s a time commitment. It’s a huge money commitment to take a chance and go to an opera and people can feel very intimidated by it.

Angel Blue: Yes. I try to. When the opportunity presents itself I definitely try to destigmatize opera for people if there is a stigma there. I’ve never seen it as an elitist art form but that’s because I was introduced to it when I was four <laughs> whenever I see it and whenever I think of it I try not to make it an elitist art form so maybe that’s just in my world that I do that, and so when I speak to people I definitely try to show them what it is for me.  I look at opera as just a fun night out. I don’t go to the opera to criticize singers. Number one, the tickets are too expensive for all of that. I don’t go to the opera to criticize the orchestra. I don’t go to the opera to take apart everything. I just go to be entertained. So I tell most of the people that I speak with-- and usually I’m speaking to high-school students or college students about it and I just try to tell them, “It’s just a night out. Just go and have fun. If you like it then go again. If you don’t like it then don’t go back.” <laughs>

Jo Reed: I want you to tell me what you love about opera.

Angel Blue: Oh, my gosh, foo-- so many things.  Oh, I love the orchestra. As an opera singer, what I love is I like being onstage and looking down into the pit, the orchestra pit, and seeing the orchestra and then seeing the conductor and past the conductor are just all of these people. That’s so much fun; that’s just such a beautiful feeling. I love the spotlight. I really like the spotlight, not necessarily being in the spotlight <laughs> but I like the spotlight; I like seeing it. I love seeing the people up in the rafters and walking around operating the lights and the people backstage, the crew, and people don’t know how many people are actually working backstage to make the show happen and I just-- I love the theater. The theater life is so exciting; it’s exhilarating to me. I want to cry. Wow. I enjoy it so much. In opera specifically, I like the fact that we sing without microphones. I will never understand how any of us really do that, I sometimes don’t understand how I do it, but I love the fact that we’re not miced and we’re projecting like that over orchestras and I love seeing opera singers onstage being supportive of one another and this is kind of weird, but also I like to see when opera singers are sweating because you know that they’re working really hard. <laughs> There’s so many aspects to it. Of course I love the music; I love the drama; I love the theater. I love the fact that opera has every single emotion in it. You can feel everything that you’ll feel in real life in an opera and that’s so spectacular. I don’t know what else to say other than I’m just so honored that I’m even here and a part of it in any way and to call myself an opera singer is a huge, huge blessing.

Jo Reed: I think that’s a great place to leave it. Thank you so much, Angel.

Angel Blue: Thank you.

That is soprano Angel Blue— On September 27, She’ll be opening the new season at the Metropolitan Opera in Terence Blanchard’s “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” She follows that up, by reprising her role as Bess in “Porgy and Bess” at the Met later in the fall. You get more information about both operas and the rest of the Met’s season at MetOpera.org.

You’ve been listening to Art Works produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. I’m Josephine Reed. Stay safe and thanks for listening.

 

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September 27 will be an historic night for opera lovers: the Metropolitan Opera, the largest performing arts company in the nation, will open its season after the long pandemic shut-down with “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.” Supported by the National Endowment for the Arts since its development period, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” is based on the memoir by Charles Blow. It’s composed by jazz great Terence Blanchard with a libretto by Kasi Lemmons, and it is the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera.   Angel Blue will be starring along with baritone Will Liverman. It’s the second time Angel Blue has opened the season for the Metropolitan Opera: in 2019, she was Bess in the Grammy-winning production of “Porgy and Bess”—a role in which she shone. But shining on stage is what Blue does as a singer and as an actress.  For the past decade and a half, Blue has performed to great acclaim in opera houses around the world and in a variety of roles.  Now, she has emerged as one of the most vibrant sopranos performing today. Her voice has been praised for its “shimmering beauty”  that is “always perfectly controlled and consistent throughout her expansive range.”  In this podcast, Angel Blue and I talk about opera and its joys, “Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” her career in Europe, her first-time performing at the Met, and her thoughts about DEI and opera.