The Gershwins’ modern American masterpiece has its first Met performances in almost three decades, starring bass-baritone Tonight: Eric Owens and soprano Angel Blue in the title roles. Director James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row, a setting vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants.
As you approach the entrance be sure to look up at the banner by artist Kerry James Marshall.
A detail of the banner by Kerry James Marshall for “Porgy and Bess.” Excerpt from Michael Cooper in Friday’s NY Times: “The Met is asking audiences to take a new perspective even before they enter the opera house. The artist Kerry James Marshall, acclaimed for huge paintings that are fantasias of black life and history, has created an arresting “Porgy and Bess” banner that hangs outside. It upends the traditional image of Porgy, a disabled beggar, and the woman he loves, Bess, who has suffered from abuse and addiction. Mr. Marshall’s Porgy — drawn in a muscular social realist, almost comic-book-superhero style — stands braced for action, wielding his crutch like a weapon and carrying Bess, on his shoulders.”
The photographers are asked to congregate inside the stage door an hour before the performance. While waiting I met five of the seven young actors awaiting their “wrangler:” Sophia-Amira Sussewell, Chenyari Randall, Anahera Smith-McDaniel, Busiso Maldonado-Hazel, and Neo Randall.
Bess and Porgy on stage with several of the youngsters in Catfish Row.
Left: I often see Peter Duchin at the opera and other musical events. He and I have known each other since we were infants — each in cribs at Doctor’s Hospital in 1940. Right: Patricia Beard and Peter who are working together on a memoir of Peter’s life.
Eric Owens and Angel Blue.
Harolyn Blackwell (lyric coloratura soprano who has performed in operas, concerts and on Broadway), with Henry Grossman (my longtime friend and colleague who not only photographs all the operas but has also performed there as a principal tenor).
The Conducter David Robertson joins the cast in taking a bow. Robertson is also music director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, and works widely as a guest conductor.
Following the rehearsal there was a Q&A on stage with five of the performers who encouraged the many students who were attending to always come up to the singers whenever they see them and to ask questions — and that they themselves were encouraged when they were young and wanted to do the same.
As I was leaving, I noticed a post-rehearsal meeting going on with Peter Gelb, Michael Yergen (set designer), and James Robinson (the Director of the Opera).
All photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact JK here.