This Saturday’s opera, simulcast in both Port Angeles and Port Townsend, brings a story and a kind of music audiences may not expect.
“Champion,” simulcast live from the Metropolitan Opera’s New York City stage in the Naval Elks ballroom in Port Angeles and the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend, delves into the life of Emile Griffith, a Black athlete.
On the way to the top, the prizefighter confronts adversity, including his own demons.
“Champion” runs on jazz, created by Grammy-winning composer Terence Blanchard, famed for his Spike Lee movie scores.
“I am very interested in hearing what that sounds like,” said Ron Graham, who’s been to every Live at the Met simulcast in Port Angeles since last December.
Graham is board president of Ghostlight Productions, co-presenter of Live at the Met along with the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts. The two nonprofits will host the “Champion” performance at 9:55 a.m. Saturday at the Naval Elks Lodge ballroom, 131 E. First St. in Port Angeles.
Tickets, which range from $14 to $24, are available at jffa.org/met and will be sold at the door.
The Rose Theatre, at 235 Taylor St. in Port Townsend, will present the simulcast at the same time on Saturday — 9:55 a.m. — and the same price for tickets, ranging from $14 to $24. Tickets are available at rosetheatre.com or at the door.
Ryan Speedo Green, a bass-baritone from Suffolk, Va., has the role of young Griffith, a closeted gay man; Philadelphia-bred bass-baritone Eric Owens portrays his older self. Soprano Latonia Moore from Houston, Texas, is his estranged mother Emelda, while Stephanie Blythe from Mongaup Valley, N.Y., is bar owner Kathy Hagan.
As with all Met simulcasts, Saturday’s performance is part of the “Live in HD” series, presented on movie screens around the world.
“Champion,” sung in English, is based on real events.
“I remember a bit of the story of Emile Griffith, a middleweight and welterweight champion who, unfortunately, was responsible for the death of an opponent in the ring. But I didn’t know the whole story,” Graham said.
He added that “Champion” tells the tale of the 1962 boxing match in which Benny “Kid” Pare died — while looking inside Griffith’s life before and after.
This is a drama for people who love music — classical, jazz or both, added JFFA Executive Director Kyle LeMaire. It’s also for those who care about sports, LGBTQ+ rights and social justice.
In addition to the performance itself, the Metropolitan Opera presents backstage interviews and insights during intermission, as it has done all season.
“Champion” is JFFA and Ghostlight’s seventh Met simulcast since last fall.
Next up from the Met is Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” on May 20 and finally “Die Zauberflöte” (“The Magic Flute”) on June 3.
“I must admit that I have never been to a live opera, and the Met broadcasts have really been my first experience with full performances,” Graham said.
“We are fortunate in that the audio and video systems we are using at the Elks Lodge are very good, and the performances have been nothing short of stunning.
“Even if someone has never seen an opera before, or doesn’t understand whichever language is being sung, the emotion and intent of the performers comes through.”
For more about the Juan de Fuca Foundation’s activities, including the 30th anniversary Juan de Fuca Festival from May 26-28, see JFFA.org.
For information about Ghostlight Productions, see ghostlightWA.org.