George Gershwin miraculously melded classical music, popular song, jazz, blues and spirituals in this quintessentially American masterpiece that tells the poignant story of a crippled ...
See full summary »
George Gershwin miraculously melded classical music, popular song, jazz, blues and spirituals in this quintessentially American masterpiece that tells the poignant story of a crippled beggar, the headstrong woman he loves, and the community that sustains them both. San Francisco Chronicle praised Francesca Zambello's production as a "powerful Porgy and Bess...persuasively led by conductor John DeMain and sung by a strong cast headed by Eric Owens and Laquita Mitchell in the title roles.... Owens brought vocal heft and dramatic sensitivity to the part of Porgy. Mitchell gave an evocative performance as Bess, compounded of tempestuous need and penitence." "Dazzling and remarkable!" -San Jose Mercury News "Triumphant! A top-notch, sold-out Porgy and Bess." -San Francisco Examiner Written by
Porgy and Bess is one of Gershwin's most well-known works for a reason. It has a story that is both hugely engaging and poignant and music that ranges from catchy(Summertime, It Ain't Necessarily So) to emotionally heart-wrenching(Oh Lord I'm on My Way, Bess You Is My Woman Now). This 2013 performance from San Francisco is truly top notch, even better than the classic Trevor Nunn production from 1993, mainly because it has more spontaneity being in front of a live audience- Nunn's had a very opera film-like feel to it- and is more of a theatrical touch compared to the more perhaps intimate one that Nunn's had(still effective in this regard this said). The traditional production values are strikingly evocative and larger in scale and scope than Nunn's, Porgy and Bess is one of those works that in my mind won't work in any other period or place and there is no signs of updating at all. Above all they look great, and the DVD quality and videography don't mar at all. The staging is both electric and sympathetic with great chemistry between the principals, there are no absurd or irrelevant staging touches, just stage direction that always involves, always captures the essence of the opera's story and setting and provides a real emotional wallop.
The production is outstanding musically, Porgy and Bess is a difficult work and the orchestra from beginning to end play in a very stylish and nuanced way. The more jazzy parts of the music, of which the score is full of, are played seductively and wittily. Rhythmically they also play with a real sense of freedom and precision, something that someone like Olivier Messiaen would approve of(Messiaen championed rhythm, calling it the most important component in music, and was quoted saying that they should be free and precise). The conducting makes that possible, it is accommodating and very musical yet it really allows the music to come alive. The chorus really throw themselves into the drama, their acting imaginative and remarkably individual and are well-balanced and rehearsed. Eric Owens is brilliant as Porgy, have always liked his resonant bass-baritone voice and it's in great shape here and the nobility and dignity he brings to Porgy is done so affectingly, especially in Oh Lord I'm On My Way. Laquita Mitchell's Bess is glamorous and sexy yet with a lot of depth that couldn't be more apparent in her rendition of I Loves You Porgy, her singing has many colours from voluptuousness to tender with a throughout rich tone. Peter Lynch plays Crown with swagger and charisma and of the supporting cast it was Chauncey Packer who stood out as Sportin' Life, beautiful clear voice and his It Ain't Necessarily So was one of the joys of the production. All in all, a truly top notch production. 10/10 Bethany Cox
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this