It was a milestone that was a long time coming: In September, Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones became the first work by a Black composer to be performed at the Metropolitan Opera since the company was formed in 1883. The season-opening performance was also the first at the Metropolitan Opera House since the pandemic began in 2020. Fire had its world premiere in 2019 at Opera Theatre of St. Louis; the composer, best known for scoring multiple Spike Lee films, is also composer of 2013’s Champion: An Opera in Jazz, about boxer Emile Griffith, also premiered in St. Louis. Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with a libretto adapted by Kasi Lemmons from Charles Blow’s 2014 memoir of the same name, centers on Blow’s upbringing in segregated rural Louisiana, where he was molested when he was young; themes include racism, violence, and the abuse of power. The score features a jazz quartet embedded within the orchestra. The performance, staged by Camille Brown and James Robinson, featured baritone Will Liverman as adult Charles and seven-year-old Walter Russell III as Char’es-Baby (young Charles); Latonia Moore sang the pivotal role of Billie, Charles’s mother; and Angel Blue sang the multiple roles of Destiny/Loneliness/Greta. The audience in the house responded with thunderous applause; the performance was also livestreamed for outdoor audiences in Manhattan’s Times Square and Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. Blanchard has stressed in interviews that while he may be the first Black composer to have a work performed at the Met, he is far from the first one qualified to do so, citing Scott Joplin and William Grant Still as past examples. The second opera by a Black composer to be staged at the Met will come in 2023, after only a two-year wait: Anthony Davis’s 1986 opera X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, in a production by Robert O’Hara that will first make its debut in spring 2022 at Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre.