Saturday, December 3, 2011

Golden Age Opera of the Week--Porgy and Bess

I stumbled upon the videos the Seattle Opera had for its production of Mr. Gershwin's amazing Porgy and Bess from last year, and could not stop crying. I don't know why. So in the hope of evincing wracking sobs from you lot, I present some videos here:

Willard White sings "I Got Plenty of Nuttin'" in the film adaptation of the 1987 Glyndebourne--Glyndebourne?!!!!--production, then Marietta Simpson as Maria gives Sportin' Life (Damon Evans--wait, wasn't he in The Jeffersons?) a piece of her mind. Simon Rattle is reported to have said in rehearsing and performing some of the choral scenes--and what great choral scenes!--he simply put the the baton down and allowed something he couldn't define lead the chorus and keep them together.

1952 live Berlin performance with Leontyne Price and Willard White. (Regular followers, if there are any, will notice I never, ever feature Leontyne Price, because she doesn't need my help to be remembered in the current century.)

Leontyne Price, who sang the role on tour throughout Europe, in a 1960 gala recording of Die Fledermaus, of all things, under Herr Von Karajan!

Orlofsky: What aria would you like to sing?
Leontyne Price: Do you know "Summertime" by Gershwin?
Orlofsky: But Gerwshwin hasn't been born yet!
Leontyne Price: I'll sing it anyway.

In a separate note I read somewhere (no source, of course) that when Todd Duncan, the original Porgy, went to meet with Gershwin about this new musical he was writing, he was a bit suspicious. Gershwin played him the overture, and Duncan started out thinking this was a white, Jewish man writing music that might sort of sound like jazz. By the time they reached the end of the overture and "Summertime", Duncan was in tears. Just like me whenever I see this opera. I wish I'd had the time and money to see it in Seattle last May.

If anyone in Seattle is reading, I write sorta good and love to go to other places and write about their operas!

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