When the Sheldon Concert Hall asked Terence Blanchard to replace Latin jazz pianist Chucho Valdés for a scheduled performance this Saturday, Feb. 15, the jazz trumpeter jumped at the opportunity.
“I was sorry to hear about Chucho’s unexpected surgery that forced him to cancel his tour,” Blanchard said during a recent conversation from his home in the New Orleans area. “But I’m very happy to be coming back to St. Louis. I’ve spent quite a bit of time there over the past three years. My wife is starting to think of it as our second home.”
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.
The tents are up on the lawn of the Loretto Hilton Performing Arts Center as Opera Theatre of Saint Louis prepares to open its 2013 Festival Season with Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic masterpiece The Pirates of Penzance. Directed and choreographed by Sean Curran and conducted by Ryan McAdams, Pirates is the first of four productions that will be staged in repertory from May 25 until June 30.
As a world-renowned jazz trumpeter, composer and band leader, Terence Blanchard has received five Grammy Awards and has written jazz pieces for small ensembles, symphonic settings, film and stage. But when he was contacted by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Artistic Director James Robinson about writing an opera, his first question was “are you sure you have the right guy?” Robinson knew exactly what he was doing.