PORGY & BESS New Production Set For Metropolitan Opera 2019-2020 Season by Photojournalist Lisa Pacino
The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess will be a part of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season. Grammy Award winning operatic bass-baritone Eric Owens is cast to star and Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher is scheduled to helm the direction of the new production.
Grammy Award winning operatic bass-baritone Eric Owens. Photograph by Lisa Pacino.
May 2017: In an interview with the Met Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb, The New York Times reported that Tony Award winning director Bartlett Sher is scheduled to helm a new production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019-2020 season. Grammy Award winning opera singer Eric Owens has already been scheduled to star. As previously reported, Sher is set to direct Broadway’s My Fair Lady in spring 2018. Sher received a 2008 Tony Award for directing South Pacific and is currently Tony Award nominated for his work on Oslo. He also received Tony Award nominations for The King and I, Golden Boy, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Awake and Sing!, and The Light in the Piazza. He has regularly worked at the Met Opera, having directed stagings of The Barber of Seville in 2006, Tales of Hoffman in 2009, Le Comte Ory in 2011, and Two Boys in 2011. Set in Charleston’s fabled Catfish Row, Porgy and Bess follows beautiful Bess as she struggles to break free from her scandalous past, and the crippled but courageous Porgy (Owens). The Tony Award winning Broadway revival starred Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis and six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald in the respective title roles. In 2012, McDonald garnered her fifth Tony Award win for her performance as Bess. The official dates, further casting, and a creative team will be announced at another time.
The opera has not been to the Met since 1989-1990 season when it received 12 performances. The opera made its debut at the house just five years earlier in the 1984-1985 season, during which it was showcased 16 performances. In total it has appeared 54 times at the Met Opera House.
Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera composed in 1934 by George Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin. It was adapted from Heyward’s play Porgy, itself an adaptation of his 1925 novel of the same name. Porgy and Bess was first performed in Boston on September 30, 1935, before it moved to Broadway in New York City. It featured a cast of classically trained African-American singers— ground breaking at the time. In 1942, it became a Broadway revival; in 1952, a touring production and on Broadway in 1953 starring Leontyne Price as Bess, William Warfield as Porgy, and Cab Calloway as Sportin’ Life, a role that Gershwin had composed with him in mind. The role of Clara was played by a young Maya Angelou. After the Houston Grand Opera production of the opera in 1976 it gained new popularity, becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed operas. The 2012 Broadway revival earned a Tony Award.
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