A "Porgy" for the Masses?

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Ralph
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A "Porgy" for the Masses?

Post by Ralph » Sat Jul 01, 2006 10:07 am

From The New York Times:

June 30, 2006
Plenty o' Trimmin' Turns 'Porgy and Bess' Into a Musical
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON

"The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess," a musical based on, um, George and Ira Gershwin's 1935 opera, "Porgy and Bess," has set its opening date at the Savoy Theater in London for Nov. 9. Previews begin Oct. 25.

Trevor Nunn, who recently won praise for his direction of Tom Stoppard's new play, "Rock 'n' Roll," which opened this month at the Royal Court in London, has reworked the four-hour opera into a two-and-a-half-hour musical. Mr. Nunn has been trying to bring attention to "Porgy and Bess" for years, since directing a famous production of it, with Simon Rattle conducting, at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1986.

"It's the most sensational, wonderful, wonderful score, and so many of the people in the world know it but they don't know they know it," Mr. Nunn said in a telephone interview yesterday from London, where he was attending auditions. The problem, he said, was that the operagoing audience is small.

So about three years ago, he said, he approached the Gershwin estate with the idea of turning the opera into a musical by fashioning a book out of the 1925 novel, the subsequent play and the opera's libretto by DuBose Heyward (whose wife, Dorothy, co-wrote the play) and some other historical materials. The estate approved of his version, and he has invited members of the Gershwin family along for the process, including a workshop last year.

The "Porgy and Bess" standards, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Heyward — "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin' " and "It Ain't Necessarily So" — will remain, though Gareth Valentine, the composer and arranger who has worked with Mr. Nunn before, has adapted the music where needed.

"It's involved a few structural changes, it's involved the expansion of spoken scenes," Mr. Nunn said, of the story about the disabled beggar Porgy; the woman he loves, Bess; and the other inhabitants of Catfish Row in Charleston, S.C. "We've retained all of the key melodic content, but it's much, much shorter."

The $5 million production is being produced by the Frankel/Viertel/Baruch/Routh Group, Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theater Group and Tulbart Productions. Tom Viertel, also in London, said the producers were planning to bring the musical to Broadway some time during the 2007-8 season, though no official dates have been set.

"The chance of having this piece of material land in a much larger audience in a way that would allow it to be more dramatic is a wonderful story," Mr. Viertel said.

Asked about the possibility of carping purists who object to such tinkering, Mr. Nunn said his extensive experience with "Porgy" should vouch for his intentions.

"Since I've done everything I can with the opera to underline its credentials," Mr. Nunn said, "I hope I won't be perceived as someone who's doing an insensitive thing in attempting a different version, so that a wider public gets to appreciate this extraordinary music."
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diegobueno
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Re: A "Porgy" for the Masses?

Post by diegobueno » Mon Jul 03, 2006 9:49 am

Ralph wrote:From The New York Times:
Asked about the possibility of carping purists who object to such tinkering, Mr. Nunn said his extensive experience with "Porgy" should vouch for his intentions.

"Since I've done everything I can with the opera to underline its credentials," Mr. Nunn said, "I hope I won't be perceived as someone who's doing an insensitive thing in attempting a different version, so that a wider public gets to appreciate this extraordinary music."
I perceive his intentions as trying to make a buck by bastardizing a great score. Porgy and Bess is much more than the famous tunes. Jeez.
Black lives matter.

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Post by MahlerSnob » Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:05 am

I thought it already was for the masses...
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Ralph
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Re: A "Porgy" for the Masses?

Post by Ralph » Mon Jul 03, 2006 3:10 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Ralph wrote:From The New York Times:
Asked about the possibility of carping purists who object to such tinkering, Mr. Nunn said his extensive experience with "Porgy" should vouch for his intentions.

"Since I've done everything I can with the opera to underline its credentials," Mr. Nunn said, "I hope I won't be perceived as someone who's doing an insensitive thing in attempting a different version, so that a wider public gets to appreciate this extraordinary music."
I perceive his intentions as trying to make a buck by bastardizing a great score. Porgy and Bess is much more than the famous tunes. Jeez.
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So true. Levine conducting "Porgy" at the Met is still a bright memory.
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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

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