WHEN: February 19-28
WHERE: SFJAZZ Center, Miner Auditorium
OPEN REHEARSAL: February 13, 3pm
Hall of Culture, 3rd Floor
AAACC (African American Art & Culture Complex)
762 Fulton Street (at Webster), San Francisco
Music by Terence Blanchard
Libretto by Michael Cristofer
Champion: An Opera in Jazz, in 2 Acts and 10 scenes was co-commissioned by the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Champion boxing gloveJazz Saint Louis, first performed in June 2013. A groundbreaking work combining the disciplines of opera and jazz, Terence Blanchard’s Champion: An Opera in Jazz (2013) tells the real-life story of world champion boxer Emile Griffith, a man haunted by memories of his past who struggled to reconcile his sexuality in a hyper-macho world. Co-produced by Opera Parallèle and SFJAZZ, Champion’s visually stunning production features full staging and video elements with soloists, a jazz trio, orchestra and Gospel chorus, bringing out the full glory of Blanchard’s soulful score as it illuminates Griffith’s triumphs and struggles, which are still broadly and powerfully relevant today.
Tormented by the death of opponent Benny Paret following their 1962 bout for the welterweight title, Griffith spent his life questioning himself and a society that would accept his accidental killing of a fellow athlete, but not his bisexuality. The opera features a libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer and premiered to widespread critical acclaim at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis in June 2013, even becoming one of five finalists for the International Opera Award in 2014.