Opera Scotland

Porgy and Bess

Posted 12 Oct 2009

Cape Town Opera are bringing George Gershwin’s opera (text by du bose Heyward and Ira Gershwin) to Scotland for three performances only at the end of October. Many American composers have tried to write operatic works but perhaps ‘Porgy and Bess’ mixing jazz and ‘serious’ music is the best known. Certainly it was the first to make a substantial success.

A poignant tale of deprivation and the search for love and happiness, it was orginally set in Catfish Row, on the waterside of Charleston, South Carolina. In this production by Cape Town Opera, their artistic director Christine Crouse has transposed the action to the time of apartheid’s highest arrogance in a South African township setting.

The numbers ‘Summertime’, ‘It ain’t necessarily so’ and ‘I got plenty of nuttin’ are known to most audiences. First performed in 1935, it triumphs by its melodic exuberance, the brilliant colour of the setting and its dramatic vitality and touching characterisation. With the exception of the small speaking roles, the characters are all black. The way in which the characters are portrayed has been condemned for being condescending, but Porgy was finally given by the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1985 and is nowadays seen as part of the operatic mainstream.

The company’s short tour starts in Cardiff, with performances at the Millenium centre from the 21st; then they give two concert performances at the Southbank Centre before finishing with three fully staged performances at the Festival Theatre.

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