Porgy & Bess

Porgy & Bess guest pack


Porgy & Bess
Talking Points



Jake & Clara are properly married. She sings the famous “Summertime”.
Serena is married to Robbins, who is killed within 15 minutes of the start.
His killer,  Crown, a loudmouth swaggering stevedore, is  “married” to Bess.
Porgy has always been in love with Bess, but never dared say.
Sportin’ Life, a drug dealer, is also after Bess.


  • Tsar Alexander III’s pogroms greatly enriched American music with the parents of Aaron Copland, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein, as well as Gershwin’s, all fled tsarist Russia.
  • The Gershwin parents lived in 28 different apartments in the first ten years of marriage. Wherever they moved, their son George quickly became the street roller- skating champion
  • At 15 George took a job as a ‘song-plugger’ at Remick’s. He had to be able to play any of Remick’s songs in any key at sight, against the bedlam of a dozen or more other pluggers doing the same thing in adjacent cubicles.
  • His pianistic skills became legendary and soon he was rich. He bought his parents a large house with a lift. His prankster father got himself a lift man’s uniform and hat
  • George wrote Porgy & Bess aged 37. He died at 38. Ira, his brother and lyricist, lived to 86 and died sitting up in bed eating chocolates
  • If you have enjoyed these gentle insights, there is a full article in the 2019 Season Programme book.
  • Star performers Laquita Mitchell (Bess), has sung the role all over the world. As has Musa Ngqungwana. Many of the cast were in the ENO production which went to Amsterdam.
Dress Code, Grange Park Opera

Elegant. Most people wear black tie / gorgeous dresses. Don’t be afraid to be creative

Opera is about feelings. You need know nothing in advance. Just sit in the theatre and have feelings . . .

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The company

Founded 1998
78 Productions
450+ performances

a charity without government subsidy




  • Operas take place in a new five–storey opera house, nestling in the woods by 15th century West Horsley Place
  • The new opera house opened in June 2017 and since then more than 30,000 people have visited
  • It was built in just 10 months and £11.4m was raised from individuals
  • During the company’s 22 year history, repertoire has included lesserknown operas such as Thaïs, Don Quichotte (Massenet), Carmélites (Poulenc) Enchantress (Tchaikovsky), Love for Three Oranges (Prokofiev), Eliogabalo (Cavalli)
  • Fiddler on the Roof, starring Bryn Terfel, was at the 2015 BBC Proms
  • The world première of Pushkin was presented in 2018 by Moscow’s Novaya Opera orchestra and chorus
  • The company pioneers younger audiences and younger artists



Annual memberships are payable by monthly direct debit from as little as £20 per month

Members make the 2020 season and allow the work in prisons, primary schools and with young people.

Find out more


6 June to 19 July

Image credit: Melanie Harding/Millennium Images



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