Works & Process at the Guggenheim
Washington National Opera: Champion by Terence Blanchard
Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 7:30pm
On Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 7:30pm, Works & Process at the Guggenheim presents excerpts from Champion by five-time Grammy award-winning musician and playwright Terence Blanchard, who tells the true story of Emile Griffith in his haunting and visually stunning “opera in jazz.” The work, which blew critics away when it premiered in 2013, explores the life of the closeted gay boxer whose knockout of a homophobic rival in the early 1960s let to unexpected tragedy. Washington National Opera Artistic Director Francesca Zambello will moderate a discussion with Blanchard, Deynce Graves and other members of the cast following performance excerpts.
Blanchard’s opera will open anew with Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House in Washington, DC on March 4, 2017. Of the 2013 premiere, The New York Times said Champion “strikes a resonant chord,” while the Chicago Tribune called it “a new work of quality and staying power.”
Tickets & Venue
$40, $35 Guggenheim members and Friends of Works & Process.
$10 Student Rush Tickets available one hour prior to each performance (if space allows, for students under 25 with valid ID).
Box Office (212) 423-3575, (M–F, 1–5pm) or online at worksandprocess.org
Peter B. Lewis Theater
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue, New York
Since top-tier jazz and multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Terence Blachard embarked on his solo recording career with his eponymous Columbia Records abum in 1991, the New Orleans-born-and-based artist has traveled many paths musically, icluding delivering adventurous and provocative acoustic jazz outings of original material, composing over 50 soundtracks and even, in 2013, debuting Champion: An Opera in Jazz. He has also, in the spirit of his onetime membership in the jazz school of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, mentored several musicians in his bands who have gone on to have significant recording careers of their own (including Lionel Loueke, Aaron Parks, Kendrick Scott and one of his current band members Fabian Almazan). As a leader and co-leader (significantly four albums early in his career with fellow Crescent City artist, saxophonist Donald Harrison), Blanchard has recorded more than 30 albums that often defied genres, yet were still critically acclaimed. But for his latest Blue Note Records album, Breathless, Blanchard powerfully and playfully journeys into another jazz realm with his new quintet, The E-Collective—an exciting zone of grooved fusion teeming with funk, R&B and blues colors.
An internationally recognized director of opera and theater, Francesca Zambello’s American debut took place at the Houston Grand Opera with a production of Fidelio in 1984. She debuted in Europe at Teatro la Fenice in Venice with Beatrice di Tenda in 1987 and has since staged new productions at major theaters and opera houses in Europe and the USA. Collaborating with outstanding artists and designers and promoting emerging talent, she takes a special interest in new music theater works, innovative productions, and in producing theater and opera for wider audiences. Ms. Zambello has been the General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival since 2010, the Artistic Director of The Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center since 2012, the Artistic Advisor to the San Francisco Opera from 2005-2011, and the Artistic Director of the Skylight Theater from 1987-1992. In her current roles at the Kennedy Center and the Glimmerglass Festival she is responsible for producing 12 productions annually, increasing the national and international profiles for both companies. Among her many accolades are the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for her contribution to French culture, three Olivier Awards from the London Society of Theaters, two Evening Standard Awards for Best Musical and Best Opera, and two awards from the French Grand Prix des Critiques for her work at the Paris Opera.
Recent seasons have continued the traditions set by the founders of Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, offering performances by the greatest talents the opera world has to offer, in works beloved and unfamiliar. WNO’s commitment to nurturing the future of the art form manifests itself in the celebrated Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and the annual Opera in the Outfield event, in which a production is simulcast for free to Nationals Park. These programs, along with the considerable work and outreach of the Education Department continue to broaden the public’s awareness and understanding of opera, and cultivate the next generation of opera stars and supporters of the arts. In 2003 WNO launched Generation O, a program for patrons age 18 to 35, which makes WNO accessible to young opera lovers and new opera listeners through specially-priced tickets, special events, and educational opportunities. And in 2012 WNO began the American Opera Initiative, a comprehensive new commissioning program that brings contemporary American stories to the stage while fostering and developing the talents of new American composers and librettists. As Washington National Opera moves into the future, it will strive to continually raise artistic standards, and provide new and better opera to the nation’s capital.
Works & Process at the Guggenheim
For over 31 years and in over 400 productions, New Yorkers have been able to see, hear, and meet the most acclaimed artists in the world, in an intimate setting unlike any other. Works & Process, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim, has championed new works and offered audiences unprecedented access to generations of leading creators and performers. Each performance takes place in the Guggenheim’s intimate Frank Lloyd Wright–designed 285-seat Peter B. Lewis Theater. Described by the New York Times as “an exceptional opportunity to understand something of the creative process,” Works & Process is produced by founder Mary Sharp Cronson. worksandprocess.org.