Champion debuted at Opera Theatre St. Louis in June 2013 to sold-out audiences and great national critical acclaim. As a modern opera, Champion explored the human condition, its triumphs and tragedies through the life of famed boxer Emile Griffith, who died in a New York nursing two weeks after the opera closed. Champion has been given life and a promising future with interest from the Washington National Opera, Opera Paralléle in San Francisco, and Opera Philadelphia. Additionally, the opera is now represented worldwide by Boosey & Hawkes (www.boosey.com). Most recently, Champion has been nominated by the 2014 International Opera Awards for best 'World Premiere,' and is the only modern American opera nominated.
With your support, Champion will be captured and distributed to audiences worldwide. All befitting the first-time performance of Terence Blanchard’s first opera-- a unique and momentous occasion in the history of opera and jazz. A great first landmark.
The Story of Champion:
“I kill a man and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin" - Emile Griffith
Based on actual events, Champion recounts the story of world welterweight champion Emile Griffith and his 1962 bout with Benny "The Kid" Paret, which ended in Paret’s death. After Paret hurls a gay slur at Griffith (who is closeted), they find each other months later in the ring—face to face. The result of the fight plagues Griffith’s thoughts for decades as his misery and guilt build up into his later years. The irony of Griffith’s absolution after delivering fatal blows to Paret and ostracism after being outed as a gay man presents the psychological complexities that fueled Griffith’s emotional torture.
• The date of the recording session will depend on the success of our fundraising efforts, but we are shooting for June 2014.
• The live recording will include the original cast of Champion as well as members of the St. Louis Symphony.
• We have made the project more scalable by securing reductions in fees from St. Louis Symphony, along with gratis usage of Powell Hall for the recording.