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Porgy and Bess as an Opera

Capetown-porgy-bess Cape Town Opera's Porgy and Bess is opening at Den Norske Opera in Oslo today, after a successful premiere at Deutsche Oper Berlin last month. The work was first performed as an opera in 1976 at Houston Grand Opera, and, at the moment, seems to be having a resurgance in popularity. There is a massive co-production that was just at Dallas Opera, that included Florida Grand Opera, Houston Grand Opera (1995), Los Angeles Opera, Opera Cleveland, San Diego Opera (1995), San Francisco Opera (1995), Seattle Opera (1995), and the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. Lyric Opera of Chicago is also performing a production originally created for Washington National Opera (2005) this November. This same production, by Francesca Zambello, will be at San Francisco Opera next summer, and was at Los Angeles Opera last year.

Many of the same singers come up in these productions, as the Gerswhins did not want the lead characters in black-face. Gordon Hawkins has sung Porgy in Washington, Dallas, and will share the role with Lester Lynch at the Lyric Opera. Kevin Short and Alfred Walker shared the role of Porgy in LA. Indira Mahajan has sung Bess in Washington, Los Angeles, and Dallas. Morenike Fadayomi was also Bess at Los Angeles Opera and will share the role with Lisa Daltirus in Chicago. To my knowledge, neither of the title roles has been cast in San Francisco, apparently Bess is a particular challenge, and I heard that Mahajan did not impress someone important during a Dallas performance last February.

Reviews: Cape Town Opera at Deutsche Oper | LA Opera | 1st Cast at Washington National Opera | 2nd Cast at Washington National Opera