Metropolitan Opera to Present Premiere of Terence Blanchard’s ‘Champion’

By Dejan Vukosavljevic
(Credit: Henry Adebonojo)

The Metropolitan Opera has announced that it will stage Terence Blanchard and Michael Cristofer’s opera “Champion” in April 2023.

The announcement comes on the heels of a very successful run of “Fire Shut Up in My Bones” which opened the company’s 2021-22 season.

“Champion” is based on the life of African American boxer Emile Griffith. The opera will star Ryan Speedo Green as the young Griffith, and Eric Owens as the retired boxer later in life. Metropolitan Opera’s Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct a production by James Robinson.

“We didn’t want to lose the momentum established with ‘Fire,’ so we reconfigured our very next season to present this important work,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb.

“Conducting ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’ has been a musical highlight of my career,” said Maestro Nézet-Séguin. “Terence Blanchard’s music and storylines are very much of our time, and we could not wait to ask him to bring Champion to the Met. I am thrilled to be able to collaborate with him again so soon.”

“While still processing the overwhelming response to my opera ‘Fire  Shut Up in My Bones,’ I am moved by the idea of my first opera, ‘Champion,’ being produced on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House,” said Blanchard. “I am looking forward once again to experiencing the high level of talent and dedication from all who will be involved with this production.”

The opera was premiered at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2013, its original production also staged by Robinson.