The North Carolina Opera Presents APPROACHING ALI, 1/29-31

North Carolina Opera is thrilled to bring a cutting-edge opera experience to Triangle patrons this January with Approaching Ali, a 50-minute contemporary chamber opera. In his operatic debut, Richmond-based composer D.J. Sparr's Approaching Ali stunned and delighted Kennedy Center audiences last year in a performance that the Washington Times called "intensely emotional."

Chosen by the Washington National Opera to kick off their American Opera Initiative, Sparr's work is based upon The Tao of Muhammad Ali, Davis Miller's autobiographical novel of his relationship with the iconic boxer. Miller co-wrote the libretto with Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Campbell. The exciting young composer's contemporary score charges this inspiring true story.

North Carolina Opera will present Approaching Ali on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 7pm at the Carolina Theatre in Durham and on Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 7pm at Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh. All seats for both performances of Approaching Ali are just $25. Tickets and information can be found online at or by calling the North Carolina Opera offices at919.792.3850.

"We are proud to present the second production of Approaching Ali, which saw its world premiere last year at Washington National Opera. This wonderful piece is a great story of friendship, and takes place here in North Carolina. We're also excited to showcase this opera outside of our regular venues, as it's a piece that will appeal to an even broader segment of the community." says North Carolina Opera General Director Eric Mitchko.

Bass Soloman Howard created the role of Muhammad Ali at the work's world premiere last year at Washington National Opera and will reprise it during the two upcoming NCO performances. Howard entertained audiences in last season's La Boheme and has just made his successful Metropolitan Opera debut as the King in Aida. Local baritone Ted Federle, who was featured in last season's "Opera in the Pines" plays the role of Davis Miller. Also in the cast are Jennifer Seiger (as Sara Miller), Evan Tylka (as Young Davis) and Tenor Timothy Sparks (as Roy Miller). Maestro Samuel McCoy, music director of the Chelsea Opera in New York, to conduct and David Carl Toulson to direct.

As part of North Carolina Opera's ongoing mission of education and outreach, there will also be an additional series of student performances of Approaching Ali during the production run. David Walker, North Carolina Opera's Director of Development adds "We are beyond thrilled to be able to introduce Triangle schoolchildren to the moving and engrossing world of live opera through these performances."


Music by D.J. Sparr

Libretto by Mark Campbell and Davis Miller

Based on the novel, "The Tao of Muhammad Ali" by Davis Miller

By arrangement with Bill Holab Music

An accomplished composer, D.J. Sparr has caught the attention of critics with his eclectic style, described as "pop-Romantic... iridescent and wondrous" (Mercury News) and "suits the boundary erasing spirit of today's new-music world" (New York Times). Some of his recent premieres have been by the Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, eighth blackbird, the Dayton Philharmonic, and the Richmond Symphony. Mark Campbell was profiled in Opera News as one of a 25 artists " become major forces in opera in the coming decade." His most recent opera,Silent Night, written with composer Kevin Puts, received the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Davis Miller is the author of the internationally bestselling books, Tao of Muhammad Ali: a fathers and sons memoir and Tao of Bruce Lee: my martial arts memoir, both of which are about growing up in North Carolina in the 1960s and Seventies. Miller's story, "My Dinner with Ali," was judged by David Halberstam to be one of the best twenty pieces of sports writing of the twentieth century. In 2010 Cool News named "My Dinner with Ali" one of the world's best-ever magazine stories.


North Carolina Opera's 2014/15 season is successfully well under way. Tickets are on sale now for both La Traviata (February 27 and March 1, 2015 in Raleigh), and Don Giovanni (April 18, 19, 22, 24 and 26, 2015 in Raleigh). For more information on these upcoming performances, to purchase tickets or learn about other events NCO has going on in the community, please


North Carolina Opera was formed in 2010 from the merger of The Opera Company of North Carolina and Capital Opera Raleigh. It is dedicated to presenting operatic performances at the highest level throughout the Triangle. We also have a robust education program that brings opera to schools across Wake County and surrounding counties. North Carolina Opera brings international level artists to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, and also engages the best in local Triangle talent. Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter for up to date information on events in the community, news and more.

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