On Sunday, April 30 at Concordia University’s Spring Music Festival, Kapelle Choir, under choral director Charles Brown premiered “The Crowd Makes You Catch Your Breath” from the opera “Outside the Ring” libretto by Christine Steyer & Paul Geiger, music by David Shenton. “Outside the Ring” is a new opera being created by Oak Park’s Bellissima Opera. It draws its subject matter from the ’36 and ’38 boxing matches between German Max Schmeling and African American Joe Louis.

Considered the fight of the century, this opera examines celebrity culture, racism both here and abroad and also celebrates the unlikely friendship between the two men decades later. The creation of this important work is at the grass roots level. As funds are made available more portions of it are being written. 
Bellissima Opera was thrilled at Brown’s willingness to premiere the opening chorus movement from this opera (the only piece of music that has been written yet). “The Crowd Makes You Catch Your Breath” is an adaptation of the original radio color commentary by Ed C. Hill used just before the 1936 fight at Yankee stadium got underway. “Outside the Ring” is one of three operas that comprise “The Transcendence. 
“The Crowd Makes You Catch Your Breath”
The crowd makes you catch your breath.
It stretches back endlessly,
white mask-like faces,
disappearing in blank obscurity.
Winking pinpoints of light
from countless cigarettes and cigars,
an ever-changing scene,
like fireflies in the blue-black night.
Wave on wave of sound,
rising and falling.
Wave on wave of sound,
rising and falling.
Around the ring,
famous sporting writers
shoot out stuff about the fighters
to every corner of the civilized world.
The great Yankee stadium,
walling in one brilliant square of light,
an enormous diamond on black velvet,
the rest disappearing in the gloom of night.



Join the discussion on social media!