Opera Theatre Reports A Record Financial Year

Dec 10, 2013
photo of Tim O'Leary
Courtesy Opera Theatre of St. Louis

A celebratory concert for donors to Opera Theatre of St. Louis began with a thank you. Donations and total assets had both grown substantially.

General Director Timothy O'Leary had announced earlier on Dec. 9 that donations were up 17 percent over the previous year. For the first time in the company's history, contributions designated for productions and operating support exceeded $5 million. 

xxxFrom left) Arthur Woodley as Emile Griffith, Jordan Jones as Little Emile Griffith and Denyce Graves as Eelda Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: "Champion" has been described as "a jazz opera," but it would be more appropriate to describe it simply as "an opera." Or "a good opera."

Composer Terence Blanchard is best known as a jazz trumpeter and arranger, but he knows his way around a symphony orchestra and has written many movie scores -- including the hauntingly elegiac music accompanying Spike Lee's "When the Levees Broke," about the Katrina hurricane striking New Orleans.

Robert Orth as Howie Albert and Aubrey Allicock as Young Emile Griffith
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

On Saturday, June 15, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis performs the world premiere of jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard’s first opera, Champion. Set to a libretto by Michael Cristofer, the opera tells the true story of Emile Griffith, a gay boxer who became the Welterweight Champion of the World. But in a boxing match, he kills his opponent through no fault of his own, and then has to live with the guilt for the rest of his life.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Six and a half years ago leaders of Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Jazz St. Louis met to consider commissioning an American opera in the jazz style.

They’ve nursed it, rehearsed it and will give birth to “Champion,” by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Christofer, at 8 p.m., Sat., June 15.