Terence Blanchard's Champion at Boston Lyric Opera
Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe to Perform
By: BLO - Feb 03, 2022
Nationally known director Timothy Douglas and critically acclaimed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe have joined Boston Lyric Opera’s (BLO’s) regional premiere production of Champion: An Opera in Jazz, composed by Grammy Award-winner and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Terence Blanchard (Fire Shut Up in My Bones), with a libretto by Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning playwright Michael Cristofer. Champion plays three performances at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre May 18, 20 and 22, 2022; tickets go on sale Feb. 10 at blo.org.
A veteran of regional theater with an impressive list of productions and world premiere credits around the country, Timothy Douglas has explored the work of writers such as August Wilson, Ayad Aktar, Rajiv Joseph and many others, and has told BIPOC-centered stories for more than two decades. Douglas’s directing work has been seen at the Kennedy Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theater, Arena Stage and many others. In Boston he is a Distinguished Artist in Residence at Emerson College and has mounted works for Arts Emerson and Merrimack Repertory Theater.
Stephanie Blythe makes her role debut as the welcoming and supportive bar owner Kathy Hagen in Champion. A renowned opera singer and recitalist, Blythe is among the most highly respected artists of her generation. Her repertoire ranges from Handel to Wagner, and from German lieder to contemporary and classic American song. She has performed on many of the world's great stages including Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Covent Garden and Paris National Opera in Europe, as well as San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle.
Champion is the story of boxer Emile Griffith, a welterweight prizefighter born in the U.S. Virgin Islands whose early life and career as a hat maker are upended when he is drawn into boxing. Living a double life as a married athlete and a closeted gay man, Griffith is taunted by prizefight opponent Benny Paret. Griffith pummels Paret in the ring, winning the fight but learning later his opponent has died from his injuries.
Additional new and updated casting will be announced soon. Canadian-born, Trinidad-raised conductor Kwamé Ryan helms the score, which blends jazz and operatic elements.