January 27. 2024 - February 11. 2024

Upcoming Dates

January 27. 2024 - February 11. 2024

Lyric Premiere Champion

An opera by Terence Blanchard. Libretto by Michael Cristofer.

Lyric Opera of Chicago welcomes Champion, the first opera written by composer Terence Blanchard. Based on a true story and featuring a libretto by Michael Cristofer; the drama unfolds in what composer Terence Blanchard calls “an opera in jazz.” Welterweight boxer Emile Griffith is tortured by the complex realities of his life: decades-long guilt from defeating a challenger in the ring, who died from Griffith’s blows; and desperately conflicted feelings regarding his own sexuality. James Robinson’s production arrives in Chicago with a remarkable cast. Joining Lyric favorites Eric Owens, Whitney Morrison, and Paul Groves is Justin Austin, a brilliant new star who triumphed in Fire Shut Up in My Bones, with Music Director Enrique Mazzola leading the Lyric Opera Orchestra.

Content advisory: Champion addresses adult themes and includes adult language.

  • Language: Sung in English with projected English titles
  • Running Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes, including 1 intermission
  • Location: Lyric Opera House
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Lyric’s presentation of Blanchard and Cristofer's Champion is generously made possible by The Zell Family Foundation, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, the Gramma Fisher Foundation of Marshalltown, Iowa, Ethel & Bill Gofen, The Joyce FoundationLori Ann Komisar and Morris Silverman and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow.

Major support for The New Work Fund provided by the Robert and Penelope Steiner Family Foundation, David W. Carpenter and Orit K. Carpenter, in loving memory of David W. Carpenter and Virginia Tobiason.


Maestro Enrique Mazzola is generously sponsored by Alice & John Butler, H. Gael Neeson, Sylvia Neil & Daniel Fischel, and the Robert and Penelope Steiner Family Foundation as members of the Enrique Circle.





* Lyric debut
*** Ryan Opera Center Ensemble
** Ryan Opera Center alum

Commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera. Originally commissioned by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, co-commissioned by Jazz St. Louis. A co-production of Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Metropolitan Opera.

Header image: Scott Suchman/Washington National Opera