The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess: Opera in Concert

The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess: Opera in Concert


♫ Piano music ♫ ♫ Oh, I got plenty o’ nuttin’♫ ♫ And nuttin’s plenty for me ♫ ♫ I got no car, got no mule ♫ ♫ I got no misery ♫>>So, on Saturday, February 17, we’ll be doing
a test performance of the brand-new score of Porgy & Bess. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and an outgrowth
of the Gershwin Initiative, which is meant to basically bring the best
of scholarly research to bear on their music and present it to the
world in as close a possible form as we can come
to to represent their goals and intentions as
artists. ♫ Orchestral music ♫>>So what we’re doing with this performance
of Porgy & Bess is we’re giving credibility to what George
Gershwin wrote. I think one of our challenges is to remove
the traditions that have glommed onto this piece, and to sort of clean everything away. It’s a little like the Sistine Chapel, clearing away all the old darkened paint, bringing it to life again, letting all the bright colors reveal themselves, the way he wrote it. ♫ Violin & Piano music ♫>>The performance on February 17, it’s going to be a performance as a musical
event, rather than a staged event.>>We’re looking forward to the arrival of
the professional singers who will be joining us for the production. Each one of them has had considerable experience. In some cases, they’re very well known for
the portrayal of the characters in Porgy & Bess. They’ve done many productions.>>The level of production, the scale of this
production requires sort of an all-hands-on-deck strategy, so I’m really excited that the University
Musical Society has agreed to co-present this performance
with the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.>>We’re a series that prides itself on bringing
great artists from around the world to Ann Arbor, to the University of Michigan campus. It’s what we hope the University Musical Society
can bring to a project like this. So to have Morris Robinson here, who is really is one of the Porgy’s of record. We’re really excited about having Talise here. And to have Janai Brugger here, Janai is just kind of this shining light right
now in the world of great, young, up-and-coming
professional singers. And to have her here as a part of this project
is really special.>>My name is Janai Brugger and I was a grad
student here from 2007 to 2009, and I’ll be singing the role of Clara, and one of Clara’s highlights is of course
singing Summertime, which is right at the beginning of the opera, so I’m excited. ♫ Violin & Piano music ♫ ♫ Vocal & Piano music ♫>>Eight of our student voice majors, in our
opera and vocal programs, will be working with the eight professional
soloists who are brought in to sing the main title
roles.>>This is a huge opportunity for our students, to be able to perform with experienced singers
who have done the roles many times. This gives them an opportunity to find out
what they really need to do to take that next step, once they get out of school, once they graduate.>>This experience for them will be special, in terms of having the opportunity to do the
work side-by-side with singers of a real world-class
nature, who are performing the work at the highest
levels, in the best opera houses and concert halls
around the world right now. These students will leave having built some
relationships with Janai, with Morris, with Talise. Those relationships will serve them as they
become performing artists out in the world. ♫ Violin & Piano music ♫>>The other exciting thing is we’re doing
a whole 2-day symposium around race and American culture, and it will start Friday the 16th, the day
before the performance. We’re going to talk and sort of deconstruct the meanings behind Porgy & Bess, the different reactions that different people
have. Some people really feel there’s a human drama
that’s kind of universal. Other people find it really attached to controversial
issues of minstrelsy and whites representing blacks
in American culture. I don’t think we’re going to come up with
a solution to what this means, because it’s something we’re struggling with
today.>>I think it’s a great idea that Michigan
is hosting a symposium to go along with Porgy & Bess. People are taking different looks at this
piece. This piece has had a love-hate relationship
with the African-American community. Some love it because it is such a wonderful
showcase for African-American artists. But some also don’t like being cast only in
this work. I think that the symposium gives a chance
for you to think about Porgy & Bess in its context. ♫ Porgy, I’s yo woman now ♫
♫ Bess, you is my woman ♫ ♫ I is ♫
♫ Now and forever ♫>>Porgy & Bess is not just a nostalgia piece
about the past. There’s actually so many ways in which Porgy
& Bess has the urgency of now. It really resonates with our lives and the
issues we’re struggling with, about race, and gender, and class, and the fairness and justice of our social
system in the United States, and in the world, that are so present and so contemporary. At the same time, this is a piece from 1935. It’s an incredible opera, and one really worth
investing in, because it’s still a tool by which we can learn about ourselves, today. ♫ Orchestra music ♫

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *