Washington National Opera: Champion

Saturday, March 4, 2017 - Saturday, March 18, 2017

The real-life story of Emile Griffith--the closeted gay boxer whose knockout of a homophobic rival in the early 1960s led to unexpected tragedy--comes roaring to the stage in Terence Blanchard's haunting and visually stunning "opera in jazz."

Price:

$35.00 - $300.00

Run Time:

Approx. 2-1/2 hours

Find Tickets

Tickets went on sale Tuesday, July 5, 2016 to Kennedy Center Members
Join today to receive priority purchasing and other benefits!
Tickets went on sale Wednesday, July 13, 2016 to the public.
Call Kennedy Center Information or check online regularly for last minute availability.

About

TO WIN IN THE RING, HE HAD TO HIDE HIS TRUTH.
 
TERENCE BLANCHARD / MICHAEL CRISTOFER
Champion
In English with Projected English Titles
New WNO production adapted from Opera Theatre of Saint Louis
(Champion was co-commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Jazz St. Louis and was first performed in June 2013.)

~~~~~~~
This event is part of JFKC: A Centennial Celebration of John F. Kennedy, inspired by five enduring ideals often ascribed to JFK: Courage, Freedom, Justice, Service, and Gratitude. Learn more about this event's connection to the celebration.  
~~~~~~~

"I'm seeing a lot of wonderful African American singers at WNO…
I love it. I have to go sing for Washington."
--Aubrey Allicock (Opera News)
 
"I kill a man and the world forgives me. I love a man and the world wants to kill me." The story of Emile Griffith--the closeted gay welterweight boxer whose knockout of a homophobic rival led to unexpected tragedy--comes roaring to the stage in this riveting and haunting opera. Through flashback, an aging Emile reflects on his tumultuous life, from his Caribbean upbringing and conflicted sexuality to his meteoric rise in the ring and ensuing decline in health. Battling years of guilt, regret, and denial, he now faces his greatest fight: to come to terms with his true self.
 
Five-time Grammy-winning jazz powerhouse Terence Blanchard, whose music ranges from film to Broadway to the concert hall, has composed a soulful, groundbreaking score filled with jazz-inflected vocals, bluesy harmonies, and Afro-Caribbean beats. Mixing bold characterizations with visually stunning multimedia and a jazz trio within the orchestra, Champion blew critics away when it premiered in 2013. The New York Times said the opera "strikes a resonant chord," while the Chicago Tribune called it "a new work of quality and staying power."

Please Note: Champion contains mature subject matter and strong language. Recommended for age 15 and up.

Performance Timing: Act One - 60 min.; Intermission - 25 min.; Act Two - 60 min.

Part of Terence Blanchard All-In, a yearlong residency that includes collaborations, a headlining appearance, and a mentorship role to young D.C. public school students.

Presented in conjunction with The Fearless Project.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Emile Griffith: Arthur Woodley
Young Emile: Aubrey Allicock
Emelda Griffith: Denyce Graves
Benny Paret: Victor Ryan Robertson
Howie Albert: Wayne Tigges
Kathy Hagan: Meredith Arwady
 
Director: James Robinson
Conductor: George Manahan
Set Designer: Allen Moyer
Costume Designer: James Schuette
Lighting Designer: Christopher Akerlind
Choreographer: Seán Curran
Projections: Greg Emetaz
Fight Master: Joe Isenberg
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
COME EARLY FOR FREE OPERA INSIGHTS
Musicologist Saul
Lilienstein leads the Wednesday, Mar. 15 Opera Insight, starting 1 hour and 15 minutes before the performance and lasting 35–40 minutes. All other Opera Insights start 1 hour before the performance and last 20–25 minutes. Informative and entertaining, Opera Insights take you inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of each opera. These lectures are free, but patrons must present a ticket from any performance of Champion.

Schedule:
3/4: To be announced
3/6: Hudson Taylor (from Athele Ally) and Joanna Lohman (Washington Spirits player) in conversation with Andrew Jorgensen (WNO Director of Artistic Planning)
3/10: Andrew Jorgensen, Director of Artistic Planning
3/12: Andrew Jorgensen, Director of Artistic Planning
3/15: Musicologist Saul Lilienstein
3/18: Andrew Jorgensen, Director of Artistic Planning

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
STAY AFTER FOR A FREE TALKBACK WITH THE ARTISTS
Following all performances:
Saturday evening, Mar. 4
Monday evening, Mar. 6
Friday evening, Mar. 10
Sunday matinee, Mar. 12
Wednesday evening, Mar. 15
Saturday evening, Mar. 18
Don't miss your opportunity to engage directly with our artists and share your thoughts on the experience you just had! Here's your chance to ask questions and get the inside scoop on the production from members of the cast and creative team.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
RELATED EVENTS TAKING PLACE BEYOND THE KENNEDY CENTER
HOSTED AND MANAGED BY SOME OF OUR D.C. FRIENDS


In the Smoke of the Sting
Free, no tickets required.
Join WNO artist Jarrod Lee and pianist Dara Kristina-Joi Morgan for this program that tells the stories of three boxers--Joe Louis, Emile Griffith, and Muhammad Ali--and how they each addressed the issue of racism and discrimination in their own way. Brought together through poems, music from the period, and arias from operas written about these men, In the Smoke Of The Sting is also layered with reflections in the boxers' own words of humor, courage, and determination, as each endured the truth that being titled "Champion" did little to stop the public's disquiet at such prominent ‘otherness.'
 
The program will be presented at the following venues:
2/14 at 10:30 a.m. at Anacostia Library
2/15 at 12 noon at National Postal Museum
2/18 at 2 p.m. at Takoma Park Library
2/22 at 10:30 a.m. at Francis Gregory Library
2/24 at 6 p.m. at The Sitar Arts Center
2/28 at 7 p.m. at Shaw Library
3/1 at 7 p.m. at Petworth Library
3/2 at 2 p.m. at Bellevue Library
3/7 at 7 p.m. at Woodridge Library
3/9 at 7 p.m. at Mount Pleasant Library
3/16 at 7 p.m. at The Hill Center

Champion Panel Discussion and Sneak Peek at the National Cathedral
2/27 at 7 p.m.
Free, registration required.

Performers and panelists moderated by the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas will explore Terence Blanchard's "opera in jazz." This free event will feature selections from the opera and discussion prompted by the life of Emile Griffith and the experiences of LGBTQ athletes today.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Champion photos by Ken Howard/Opera Theatre of Saint Louis

Resources

Watch and Listen

Champion (Teaser)

Champion (Trailer)

Denyce Graves on Champion

Terence Blanchard on Champion

Group of 10 or more?
Group Sales offers special terms and discounts for most performances.

March 2017

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
      4
7:00 PM Tickets  
5
6
7:00 PM Tickets  
MyTix Members
7
8
9
10
7:30 PM Tickets  
MyTix Members
11
12
2:00 PM Tickets  
13
14
15
7:30 PM Tickets  
MyTix Members Audio Described Icon
16
17
18
7:00 PM Tickets  

Calendar Icons

Sign-InterpretedPerformance
Sign-Interpreted
Audio Described Performance
Audio Described
Open-Captioned Performance
Captioned
Sensory-Friendly Performance
Sensory-Friendly
Donor
Presale for donors
NSO Subscriber
Presale for subscribers
MyTix Performance
On sale to MyTix members

All events and artists subject to change without prior notice.

All ticket prices are subject to change based on demand. Purchase early to lock in prices and the best seats!