Discover Blue

An intimate family drama with an emotionally charged core, discover the UK premiere of Blue.

Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori‘s powerful score is accompanied by Tazewell Thompson’s libretto, viscerally depicting the raw emotions of love and loss within the music itself.

Discover more about this touching tale as we share the synopsis of the opera Blue, along with commonly asked audience questions and a behind-the-scenes view of what was in ENO’s 2023 performance at the London Coliseum.   

Blue Synopsis

Place: Harlem, New York City
Time: 2007 then 2023

Act I

The Mother calls her Girlfriends together to her apartment to tell them she is expecting a child. Their joy turns to concern when she tells them she is carrying a boy; they warn her that her son will not be welcomed in this country. When her hope and love – for the child she carries and for the Father, a policeman – will not be shaken, her Girlfriends relent, blessing her and the child. The Father’s police officer friends, on the other hand, are immediately joyful – and a bit jealous – when they learn their fellow officer has fathered a son.

Sixteen years later, the Son, a student artist and activist, frequently finds himself at odds with the law for his involvement with non-violent political protests. The Father confronts the Son, who pushes back, accusing his police officer Father of upholding an oppressive system. Despite the Son’s bitter words, the Father tells him he will always love him and hold him close.


Act II

After The Son is shot by a police officer at a protest, the heartbroken Father meets with The Reverend, who attempts to comfort him and encourages him to forgive. The Father, adopting the attitude of The Son, lashes out angrily. As the funeral for The Son approaches, The Girlfriends return to Harlem to support the grief-stricken Mother as she prepares to lay her son to rest.

At the funeral, The Father and The Mother pray with the congregation, asking God to welcome their son to Heaven. The Father briefly becomes lost in a fog of emotion, guilt, regret and memory, then finds his way back to the community gathered around him in church.

In an epilogue, we see The Father, The Mother and The Son, together, in a bittersweet moment around a kitchen table, sharing a meal, as The Son reconciles with his father and announces his plans for further artistic studies and one more peaceful protest.

A performance of Blue at the ENO’s London Coliseum is roughly 2hr25m with one interval.

The music for Blue was written by Jeanine Tesori. Bringing influences of blues, jazz, cabaret and more, she is best known for her musical work including award-winning Fun Home. The Librettist was written by Tazewell Thompson, acclaimed American director for opera and theatre.

Blue was written in 2019 and premiered at the Glimmerglass Festival in 2019 before going on to win the Best New Opera award in 2020.

Blue follows the story of a black middle-class Harlem-based family whose hopes and dreams for their teenage son are dashed when he is shot by a white police officer. This is a portrait of contemporary African American life: of love and loss, church, sisterhood, and most importantly, family.

Blue is set in Harlem, New York City.

Read the introductory guide to Blue