Thurs., Sep. 15
Reimagining "Porgy and Bess"
Today we’re talking about the American Repertory Theater’s adaptation of Porgy and Bess, which is premiering in Cambridge. In 1935, the Gershiwns' "Porgy and Bess" premiered in Boston—and with it they gave America’s operatic songbook hits like "Summertime". Nearly 75 years later, the A.R.T. has breathed new life into "Porgy and Bess", but not without controversy. Though their adaptation boasts big names and even bigger voices, it’s a scaled down affair. With this pruning we see characters we can sympathize with; we see a love story that’s present and profound. Some say this adaptation nails it. Others—including Stephen Sondheim-- say that ain’t so- tampering with the Gershwins original is nothing short of blasphemy.
Emmett Price, Chair of the Department of African American Studies at Northeastern University
Carol Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music and the History of American Civilization at Harvard University