Michael Tilson Thomas

Maryland roots in new 'Ali' opera

Maryland roots in new 'Ali' opera

In his typical rhyming style, Muhammad Ali might call it something like "a whopper of an opera."

The legendary boxer, who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, has inspired "Approaching Ali," a chamber opera with music by Carroll County native and Baltimore School for the Arts alum D.J. Sparr. The work is based on Davis Miller's 1996 book "The Tao of Muhammad Ali."

Contemporary political figures have ended up in operas, "Nixon in China" by John Adams being the most prominent example. There is at least one opera about the Kennedys, at least two operas about Marilyn Monroe, and another about the slightly less significant, but...