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Porgy and Bess

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Faithful readers may recall that I'm not really well-versed in opera. I've seen "The Marriage of Figaro" in San Francisco and and "The Magic Flute" at Wolf Trap, and that's about it. And, quite frankly, Americans aren't famous for opera. Can you name a famous American opera, off the top of your head?

I'd answer with Porgy and Bess. When I found a $25 ticket for Washington National Opera's production at the Kennedy Center, I bought it, even though I knew I'd still be jet-lagged.

The entire series was nearly sold out, and the theater was packed. Surprisingly, the supertitles were on, and in the end, they were necessary, although I tried my best to ignore them. There were a couple of moments when sheer vocal power brought tears to my eyes - Serena's mourning (below), and Clara and Jake's deaths after the storm.

I sat next to two ladies who seemed to have confused "opera" with "musical" and had observed with dismay that "Summertime" sounded much different. But they had really enjoyed "Mamma Mia" and "Jersey Boys."

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On April 6th, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
I've never seen/heard Porgy & Bess properly, but I love the Miles Davis/Gil Evans recordings of the score.

I have a few versions of "Summertime" in my collection. Janis Joplin's is probably my favorite, but I also have performances by James Brown and REM. Perhaps the people near you would have preferred one of those?

There's an old Mad Magazine parody of the Porgy & Bess film. I read it as a kid and didn't get it. It's probably on the internet somewhere.

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