Sunday, February 02, 2020

Porgy and Bess in HD

Conductor...............David Robertson
Production..............James Robinson
Choreographer.........Camille A. Brown

Porgy...................Eric Owens
Bess....................Angel Blue
Sporting Life.......Frederick Ballentine
Crown.................Alfred Walker
Clara...................Golda Schultz
Jake....................Donovan Singletary
Serena.................Latonia Moore
Maria..................Denyce Graves

Host...................Audra McDonald

Saturday we were treated to a live in HD transmission of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess.  This was a wonderful experience.  It was announced that Eric Owens had a cold, but we loved him anyway. They have spared no expense in assembling the above cast.

It was a new production shared with the ENO and some other companies.  Rooms are outlined in transparent beams, allowing for private spaces when needed and open spaces for the larger crowd scenes.  Porgy wears a brace like he had polio, a reasonable explanation for his crippling.  The only aspect of the production anyone seemed to mind was the choice to portray Clara and Jake's child as a babe in arms, a tiny, always sleeping babe in arms.  The current trend in opera is to eliminate any children without dialog and replace them with puppets, robots, or maybe inert blobs of cloth.  This reduces rehearsal time.  The baby doesn't grow with the passage of time.  It wasn't terrible, but it was a distraction.

All the supporting groups were in top form.  The great Met orchestra played Gershwin in perfect style.  One comment about the chorus said, "They're doing the Verdi Requiem."  Big singing.  We go to the opera to hear big singing, and we got it here.  The ballet was choreographed to suggest what might have been happening in this place and time.

The singing was incredible, including Eric.  But the thing that set this Porgy apart from all others was the drama.  The individual characters came to life.  The director and the actors themselves get the credit for this.  Opera is so dense and complicated, and this certainly includes Porgy and Bess, that the development of complete personalities is often left by the wayside.  We loved them all.

The extremely high quality was maintained in the interviews by Audra McDonald.  She was a friend to all.

Thank you for bringing us such a magnificent Porgy and Bess
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1 comment:

Paul said...

If this doesn't end up being the best HD cinecast of the season (if perhaps the decade), I'll be surprised. All the singers were terrific, but they also looked like they were having the times of their lives -- even in the more serious parts. We had to go all the way to a suburban theater 20 miles south of Denver to find a non-sold-out house (on the TUESDAY before the performance!). The Met is doing an unprecedented TWO replays (Wednesday and Saturday) and I may just have to go again next weekend.