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Terence Blanchard - CHAMPION

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Grammy Award-winning composer’s operatic retelling of the dramatic story of boxer Emile Griffith.

  • Ryan Speedo Green as Young Emile Griffith in Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION | Copyright: © Zenith Richards / Met Opera

    Ryan Speedo Green as Young Emile Griffith in Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION © Zenith Richards / Met Opera

Terence Blanchard’s CHAMPION, the first opera by the seven-time Grammy Award–winning composer, depicts the double-life of closeted boxer Emile Griffith, from his arrival in New York City from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his rise from hatmaker to world-champion prizefighter to the tragic moment that he killed his opponent in the ring – an act that haunted him for the rest of his life.

Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green stars as the closeted young hatmaker-turned-prizefighter, who rises from obscurity to become world champion and, in one of the great tragedies in sports history, kills his homophobic archrival in the ring. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads a stellar cast that also features bass-baritone Eric Owens as Griffith’s older self, haunted by the ghosts of his past. Soprano Latonia Moore is Emelda Griffith, the boxer’s estranged mother, alongside mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as gay-bar owner Kathy Hagen.

Director James Robinson – whose productions of Blanchard’s FIRE SHUT UP IN MY BONES and the Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS at the Met scored major successes – a directs CHAMPION, as he did when the work had its world premiere in St. Louis a decade ago. Camille A. Brown, who electrified audiences with her choreography in PORGY and FIRE, also returns.

"Ryan Speedo Green and Eric Owens, in splendid voice, made a powerful team..." (The Wall Street Journal)

"Truly moving!" (Financial Times)

Recording location The Metropolitan Opera
Duration 130min.
Production Company The Metropolitan Opera
Stage Director James Robinson
Composer Terence Blanchard
Orchestra / Band The Metropolitan Opera
Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Soloist Ryan Speedo Green
Soloist Latonia Moore
Soloist Stephanie Blythe
Soloist Eric Owens

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