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Seattle Opera.

The Gershwins'®
Porgy And BessSM

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Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, 24, & 25, 2018

The Great American Opera

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Sat 7:30PM

 

12

Sun 2:00PM

 

15

Wed 7:30PM

 

17

Fri 7:30PM

 

18

Sat 7:30PM

 

19

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22

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24

Fri 7:30PM

 

25

Sat 7:30PM

 

Overview

By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin

The great American opera boasts some of the best songs ever written—including “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” “I Loves You, Porgy,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” Our unabridged presentation retains all of the rhapsodic orchestral music and superb choral writing that enchanted sell-out McCaw Hall crowds in 2011. The vibrant mix of action, humor, romance, struggle, and celebration returns with a “perfect” (ClassicsToday.com) new staging that will inspire you to “rise up singing.”

Don’t miss this fully-staged Glimmerglass co-production that Bachtrack calls “an overall theatrical and musical success, proving one more time that Gershwin’s opus remains America’s most important 20th-centruy opera.”

Listen to the music

Photo: Porgy and Bess, The Glimmerglass Festival, 2017. © Karli Cadel.

In English with English Subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Performance Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes, including 1 intermission.

Porgy and Bess is the foundation of American opera, which brought American music (jazz, folk music) into what had until then been considered a European art form. The work is beloved and also criticized for its depiction of the African American community.

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There are some who see the characterizations as stereotypical. (Sidney Poitier regretted only two roles that he performed in film, and Porgy was one of them.) And the opera has been pivotal to the careers of many African American performers, perhaps most notably Leontyne Price. Seattle Opera will engage the community in dialogue about music and theater which have been significant to the African American community. More details will be announced soon.

Wondering if this opera is appropriate for your children?   Learn More

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Synopsis

Act I
It is evening on Catfish Row. Clara and Jake sing their baby to sleep. Despite the devout Serena’s objections, the men start a game of craps. Porgy arrives, then Crown with Bess, and Crown tells Bess to pay Sportin’ Life for whiskey and happy dust. The game comes down to Robbins and Crown, but when Robbins wins and tries to collect his money, Crown accuses him of cheating and kills him. Crown leaves and Sportin’ Life offers to take Bess to New York with him, but Bess declines. Bess goes around the Row, knocking on doors, but no one will let her stay. She reaches Porgy’s door, and he leads her inside.

In Serena’s room, the community mourns for Robbins. A detective and policeman arrive and arrest Peter as a material witness until they catch Crown. They coldly tell Serena that she has to bury her husband by the next day or his body will be donated to medical students. Serena breaks down. The undertaker arrives. Although Serena has only collected 15 dollars, he agrees to bury Robbins if she pays the remainder later. Bess joins the community by leading a spiritual.

Act II
Jake and the fishermen repair nets in spite of stormy weather. Porgy reflects on his happy new outlook. Maria rebuffs Sportin’ Life’s friendly overtures, and Porgy warns the community of an evil omen. As the inhabitants of the row prepare for a picnic on a nearby island, Sportin’ Life again asks Bess to come to New York with him. She refuses, and Porgy, listening, frightens Sportin’ Life away. Porgy and Bess express their love for each other. The townsfolk emerge, dressed up and excited for the picnic.

On Kittiwah Island, the church picnic is underway. Sportin’ Life shares his doubts about scripture. The boat arrives to take everyone home, and as Bess hurries to catch it, Crown comes out of the bushes. Bess realizes he has been hiding here since Robbins’s death. He mocks her for loving Porgy and seduces her.

A week later, Jake and the fishermen head out to sea, despite predictions of bad weather. Bess, who returned from the island several days after the picnic, weak and delirious, lies ill in Porgy’s room. She wakes, and Porgy forgives her for being with Crown and says she is free to go, but Bess asks Porgy to shelter her from Crown. Clara, watching for Jake on the pier, hears the hurricane bell begin to ring.

The men and women gather in Serena’s room to weather the storm and pray. Crown bursts in, seeking shelter from the storm. When Clara, at the window, sees Jake’s boat upside-down, she gives her baby to Bess and dashes into the storm to help. Crown goes after her.

Act III
The women mourn Clara and Jake and those who have drowned in the storm. After dark, Crown comes back in search of Bess, fights with Porgy, and Porgy kills him.

A detective comes to Catfish Row to investigate Crown’s death. He asks Porgy to come down to the station and identify the body. Porgy refuses to identify the body, but the police drag him away. Sportin’ Life approaches Bess and convinces her that Porgy will stay in jail. He offers her happy dust and promises to take her to New York. She decides to go.

After a week, Porgy returns from jail. The community turns out to meet him, but looks uneasy when he asks for Bess. Finally, Maria informs him that Bess has gone to New York with Sportin’ Life. Porgy summons the strength to go and find her.

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Cast

Alfred Walker

Porgy

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Amonasro, Aida
At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: New Orleans, LA 
Seattle Opera Debut: Orest, Elektra (’08) 
Previously at Seattle Opera: The Dutchman, The Flying Dutchman (’16); Lindorf/Coppélius/Dr. Miracle/Dapertutto, The Tales of Hoffmann (’14) 
Recently: Orest, Elektra; (San Francisco Opera); Josh Gibson, The Summer King, world premiere (Pittsburgh Opera); Pizarro, Fidelio (Houston Symphony)
Upcoming: Titurel, Parsifal; (Metropolitan Opera); Méphistophélès, Faust; (Portland Opera); Speaker, The Magic Flute (Metropolitan Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Alfred Walker

Porgy

Aug. 11, 15, 17, 19, & 25

Kevin Short

Porgy

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Washington, DC
Seattle Opera Debut: The Bonze, Madame Butterfly (’89)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Orest, Elektra (’96); Don Ferrando, Fidelio (’12)
Recently: Nick Shadow, The Rake’s Progress (Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg); Jack Rance, La Fanciulla del West (New York City Opera); Archibaldo, L’amore dei tre re (Sarasota Opera)
Upcoming: Tutor, Elektra, and Dr. Grenvil, La traviata (Metropolitan Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Kevin Short

Porgy

Aug. 12, 18, 22, & 24

Angel Blue

Bess

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Bess, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Seattle Opera Debut: Clara, Porgy and Bess (’11)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Violetta, La traviata (’17)
Recently: Mimì, La bohème (Metropolitan Opera); Mimì, La bohème, and Myrtle Wilson, The Great Gatsby (Semperoper Dresden)
Upcoming: Liù, Turandot (San Diego Opera); Violetta, La traviata (Manitoba Opera); Marguerite, Faust (Portland Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Angel Blue

Bess

Aug. 11, 15, 17, 19, & 25

Elizabeth Llewellyn

Bess

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Bess, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: London, UK
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Royal Danish Opera); Magda de Civry, La rondine (Opera Holland Park); Tosca, Tosca (Theater Magdeburg)
Upcoming: Cio-Cio-San, Madame Butterfly (Royal Danish Opera); Manon Lescaut, Manon Lescaut (Opera Holland Park)

Last updated: December 2017

Elizabeth Llewellyn

Bess

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 12, 18, 22, & 24

Lester Lynch

Crown

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Crown, Porgy and Bess, and Di Luna, Il trovatore

Hometown: New York, NY
Seattle Opera Debut:  Di Luna, Il trovatore (’97)
Recently: Shylock, The Merchant of Venice (Royal Opera, Covent Garden); Crown, Porgy and Bess (Teatro alla Scala); Iago, Otello (Bergen National Opera)
Upcoming: Josh Gibson, The Summer King (Michigan Opera Theatre); The Prisoner, The Prisoner (Semperoper Dresden)

Last updated: December 2017

Lester Lynch

Crown

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Serena

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Serena, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Seattle Opera Debut: Leonora, Il trovatore (’10)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Elisabetta, Mary Stuart (’16); Abigaille, Nabucco (’15); Tosca, Tosca (’15)
Recently: Serena, Porgy and Bess (Teatro alla Scala); Santuzza, Cavalleria Rusticana (Teatro Nacional de Sao Cãrlos); Lady Macbeth, Macbeth (Welsh National Opera)
Upcoming: Abigaille, Nabucco, (Opéra de Lille and Opéra de Dijon); Leonora, La forza del destino, (Welsh National Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Serena

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Jermaine Smith

Sportin' Life

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Sportin’ Life, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Seattle Opera Debut: Sportin’ Life, Porgy and Bess  (’11)
Recently: Soloist, Concert (South Florida Symphony Orchestra, Broward Center); Sportin' Life, Porgy and Bess (Sydney Opera House and Oper Köln)
Upcoming: Director, Porgy and Bess (South Florida Symphony Orchestra); Sportin' Life, Porgy and Bess (South Florida Symphony Orchestra)

Last updated: December 2017

Jermaine Smith

Sportin' Life

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Brandie Sutton

Clara

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Clara, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Huntsville, AL
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Rautendelien, La Campana Sommersa (New York City Opera); Soloist, Mostly Mozart Festival (Lincoln Center); Bess, Porgy and Bess (Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City)
Upcoming: Pamina, The Magic Flute (Kentucky Opera); Lauretta, Gianni Schicchi, and Madame Silberklang, The Impresario (Knoxville Opera)

Last updated: January 2018

Brandie Sutton

Clara

Seattle Opera Debut
Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Derrick Parker

Jake

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Jake, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Spokane, WA
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Raimondo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Utah Opera); Porgy, Porgy and Bess (Baltimore Symphony); Joe, Showboat; Kentucky Opera

Last updated: December 2017

Derrick Parker

Jake

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Judith Skinner

Maria

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Maria, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Maria, Porgy and Bess, and Aunt Eller, Oklahoma (Glimmerglass Festival); Maria, Porgy and Bess (Royal Danish Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Judith Skinner

Maria

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Edward Graves

Robbins

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Robbins, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Oxon Hill, MD
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Grimoaldo, Rodelinda (Indiana University Opera Theater); Peter, Porgy and Bess (Glimmerglass Festival); St. Brioche, The Merry Widow (Florentine Opera)
Upcoming: Shepherd, Venus and Adonis; Sailor, Dido and Aeneas; and First Priest/ First Armored Man, The Magic Flute (Florentine Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Edward Graves

Robbins

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Martin Bakari

Peter the Honeyman

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Peter, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Yellow Springs, Ohio 
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Ricky, The Long Walk (Utah Opera); the leading tenor roles in The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and The Little Match Girl Passion (Portland Opera); Tamino, The Magic Flute (Opéra Louisiane)
Upcoming: Charlie Parker, Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD (Arizona Opera); Castleman, The Long Walk (Pittsburgh Opera); Scribe/Trash-Talker, The Summer King (Michigan Opera Theatre)

Last updated: December 2017

Martin Bakari

Peter the Honeyman

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Nicholas Davis

Jim

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Jim, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Petersburg, TN
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Jake Wallace, La fanciulla del West (Santa Fe Opera); King Marc, Le Vin Herbé (Chicago Opera Theater); Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro (Arbor Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Nicholas Davis

Jim

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Damien Geter

Undertaker

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Undertaker, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Portland, OR
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Four Villains, The Tales of Hoffmann (Pacific Northwest Opera); Alcindoro, La bohème (Portland Opera); Colline, La bohème (Tacoma Opera)
Upcoming: Colline, La bohème (Vashon Opera); Raimondo, Lucia di Lammermoor (Opera Bend)          

Last updated: December 2017

Damien Geter

Undertaker

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Cheryse McLeod Lewis

Annie

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Annie, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Greensboro, NC

Seattle Opera Debut

Seattle Opera Chorus Member since 2015

Recently: Bess (select performances in Los Angeles and Seattle) and Ensemble Swing, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (First National Broadway Tour, US); Prince Orlofsky, Die Fledermaus (Vashon Opera); Cinderella’s Stepmother, Into the Woods (Village Theatre)

Upcoming: Solo Guest Artist, Then Sings My Soul (Central Washington University); Chorus, Aida (Seattle Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Cheryse McLeod Lewis

Annie

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Ernest C. Jackson Jr.

Nelson

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Nelson, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Nelson, Porgy and Bess (Lyric Opera of Chicago); Dr. Caius, Sir John in Love (Bronx Opera); Tenor Slave/Tenor Soloist, Difficulty of Crossing a Field/The Little Match Girl Passion (Portland Opera)
Upcoming: Malcolm, Macbeth (Empire Opera)


Last updated: December 2017

Ernest C. Jackson Jr.

Nelson

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Ibidunni Ojikutu

Strawberry Woman

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Strawberry Woman, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Bellingham, WA
Seattle Opera Debut: Strawberry Woman, Porgy and Bess (’11)
Recently: Sally/Char, Monticello Wakes (Loyola Marymount University Murphy Recital Hall); Maude, Finnian's Rainbow (Benaroya Hall); Soloist, Songs from the American Experience (Jansen Art Center)
Upcoming: Princess Tilda, The Three Feathers (Seattle Opera Educational Tour)

Last updated: December 2017

Ibidunni Ojikutu

Strawberry Woman

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Marlette Buchanan

Lily

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Lily, Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Seattle Opera Debut:
Lily, Porgy and Bess (’11)
Recently: Maria/Housekeeper, Man of La Mancha (5th Avenue Theatre); Lula, Violet (ArtsWest Theatre)
Upcoming: Soprano Soloist, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (Washington Center for the Performing Arts); Mabel, Crowns (Taproot Theatre); Medda Larkin, Newsies (Village Theatre)

Last updated: January 2018

Marlette Buchanan

Lily

Aug. 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 24, & 25

Cast

Creative Team

John DeMain

Conductor

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Youngstown, OH
Seattle Opera Debut: Porgy and Bess (’87)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Porgy and Bess (’11 and ’95); L’elisir d’amore (’97)
Recently: Carmen (Madison Opera); Porgy and Bess (Glimmerglass Festival); Turandot (Virginia Opera)
Upcoming: The Abduction from the Seraglio and Florencia en el Amazonas (Madison Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

John DeMain

Conductor

Francesca Zambello

Original Stage Director and Production Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Aida
At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: New York, NY
Seattle Opera Debut: Faust (’87)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Florencia en el Amazonas (’05,’98); Billy Budd (’01); Tristan und Isolde (’98)
General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival, Artistic Director of The Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center
Recently: Aida (Washington National Opera); La ciociara (Teatro Lirico di Cagliari); Cyrano de Bergerac (Metropolitan Opera)
Upcoming: Candide (Los Angeles Opera and Washington National Opera); The Ring Cycle (San Francisco Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Francesca Zambello

Original Stage Director and Production Designer

Garnett Bruce

Stage Director

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Tosca (Pittsburgh Opera); Turandot (San Francisco Opera); Porgy and Bess (Glimmerglass Opera)
Upcoming: The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Grand Rapids and Opera Carolina); Out of Darkness (Peabody Opera Theatre)

Last updated: December 2017

Garnett Bruce

Stage Director

Seattle Opera Debut

Peter J. Davison

Set Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: London, UK
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Don Camillo und  Peppone  (Theater St.  Gallen);  Porgy and Bess (Glimmerglass Festival); La cociara (Teatro Lirico Di Cagliari)
Upcoming: Matterhorn (Theater St. Gallen); West Side Story (Houston Grand Opera and Glimmerglass Festival)

Last updated: December 2017

 

Peter J. Davison

Set Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Paul Tazewell

Costume Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Akron, OH
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Hamilton (Tony Award Winner); The Wiz! Live on NBC (Emmy Award Winner); The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (HBO/Starring Oprah Winfrey)
Upcoming:Escape to Margaritaville (Broadway); Ain't Too Proud, The Life and Times of The Temptations (The Kennedy Center); The Sting (Paper Mill Playhouse)

Last updated: December 2017

Paul Tazewell

Costume Designer

Seattle Opera Debut

Mark McCullough

Lighting Designer

At Seattle Opera in 2017/18: Aida
At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Seattle Opera Debut: The Elixir of Love (’98)
Previously at Seattle Opera: Norma (’03)
Recently: La ciociara (Teatro Lirico di Cagliari); La traviata (Bolshoi Theatre); Nabucco (LA Opera)
Upcoming: West Side Story (Houston Grand Opera); Candide (LA Opera); The Ring Cycle (San Francisco Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Mark McCullough

Lighting Designer

Eric Sean Fogel

Choreographer

At Seattle Opera in 2018/19: Porgy and Bess

Hometown: Charleston, SC
Seattle Opera Debut
Recently: Choreographer, Candide (Los Angeles Opera); Assistant Director, Norma (Metropolitan Opera); Choreographer, Cunning Little Vixen (Glimmerglass Festival)
Upcoming: Choreographer, Florencia in the Amazon (Houston Grand Opera); Choreographer Lion, Unicorn and Me (Washington National Opera); Associate Director, West Side Story (Chicago Lyric Opera)

Last updated: December 2017

Eric Sean Fogel

Choreographer

Seattle Opera Debut

Creative Team

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Production Sponsors

Kreielsheimer Endowment Fund
Additional Support from: 4Culture

Main Photo © Philip Newton | Photos: Porgy and Bess, The Glimmerglass Festival, 2017. © Karli Cadel.