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“It’s not a sports opera!” librettist Davis Miller says about his autobiographical operatic account of meeting Muhammad Ali in Louisville, Ky., in 1988, though it sure sounds like one. Maybe that’s because—let’s perpetuate a stereotype here—the audiences for boxing and opera don’t really overlap. So Miller sells it as a coming-of-age tale that just happens to revolve around the legendary heavyweight, who transformed Miller from a “skinny little disturbed white boy” into a professional kickboxer and sportswriter, beginning with his seminal article “My Dinner With Ali,” on which Approaching Ali is based. And it just happens to be sung. But why not do a play? Well, as Miller notes, those baby boomers who grew up with the People’s Champ are now starting to age into the profile of traditional opera listeners. It’s taken a while, but perhaps the two audiences match up after all.
The performance runs June 8 to June 9 at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $30. (202) 467-4600. kennedy-center.org.