Porgy & Bess

An introduction to Porgy and Bess

Porgy, a disabled beggar on the streets of Charleston, attempts to rescue Bess from the grip of Crown, her violent lover and from Sportin’ Life, her drug dealer.

Will Porgy’s love be enough to conquer Bess’s demons? The odds are stacked against him, but that won’t stop the noble Porgy from trying.

Composed by: George Gershwin. His younger brother Ira Gershwin wrote the lyrics. Libretto by Edwin DuBose Heyward based on the play Porgy.

First performed: Boston, September 30 1935. The first British performance was at Glyndebourne in 1986, produced by Sir Trevor Nunn.

Porgy: Musa Ngqungwana. The Wall Street Journal described Musa as a “powerful bass-baritone” with a “rich, glowing and elegant legato”.

Bess: Laquita Mitchell. Laquita made her debut as Bess in 2009 for San Francisco Opera and subsequently for Boston Symphony, Cleveland and Tanglewood.

Crown: Donovan Singletary, recently of the Lindemann Young Artist Program at the Metropolitan Opera.

Sportin’ Life: Rheinaldt Tshepo Moagi. Rheinaldt made his debut as Sportin’ Life during the 2012 Cape Town Opera UK tour and again at Liceu Opera Barcelona.

Did you know?

The Gershwins stipulated that all performances of Porgy and Bess must be performed by a black cast. Our production this year is staying true to this wish.

The song Summertime has at least 25,000 versions, making it one of the world’s most covered songs.

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