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By Culturekiosque Staff

NEW YORK, 4 JUNE 2013 — In addition to the ten new compositions written for his new album Magnetic (released last week on Blue Note), trumpeter/composer and New Orleans native Terence Blanchard (b. 1962) will take another big step on his continuing creative odyssey with the world premiere of his new opera.

Entitled Champion, an opera in jazz written with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Michael Cristofer, is Blanchard’s first opera. Co-commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis, the opera is inspired by the true story of prize fighter Emile Griffith – an immigrant from the Virgin Islands who claimed the title of World Welterweight Champion in a fatal 1962 fight which transformed him into a tragic hero and left the two-year old son of his opponent Benny "The Kid" Paret, without a father.

Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith in Champion

Champion begins over 40 years later, on the morning Emile is to meet his opponent’s son, now a grown man, for the first time. Flooded by memories of his career, his checkered personal life, and a terrible attack that exposed his greatest personal secret, Emile embarks on the universal journey of any hero — finding himself in the face of his greatest tragedy.

Under the musical direction of George Manahan, Champion boasts a cast that includes Arthur Woodley (Emile Griffith), Aubrey Allicock (Young Emile Griffith), Denyce Graves (Emelda Griffith), Robert Orth (Howie), Meredith Arwady (Kathy Hagen), Brian Arreola (Luis Rodrigo Griffith) and Chabrelle Williams (Sadie Griffith/Cousin Blanche) among others.

The creative and production team includes:

Stage Director, James Robinson
Costume Designer: James Schuette
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
Wig & Makeup Designer: Tom Watson
Choreographer: Seán Curran
Chorus Master: Robert Ainsley
English Diction Specialist: Erie Mills
Repetiteur: Adam Burnette

Terence Blanchard: Champion (World premiere), 2013
Libretto by Michael Cristofer
15 - 30 June 2013 at 8:00 pm

Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
210 Hazel Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
Tel: (1) 314 961 06 4


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