>I am looking forward to the ART production of Porgy and Bess, the first opera I ever saw from good seats (I was taken by the late great Oz librarian Margaret Trask twenty-five years ago in Sydney) and thus responsible for my financial ruin. And I understand that this production is not going to be the full-on opera, with dialog replacing the recitative and a Broadway singer (the wonderful Audra McDonald) starring as Bess. One of the great things about the work is the way it has survived various incarnations and the success many of the “numbers” have had as pop and jazz standards (best being, I think, Nina Simone’s “I Love You, Porgy“)
But a recent NYT story makes me verrry nervous, especially this quote from playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, tasked with revising the opera for this production. She says, “if [Gershwin] had lived longer he would have gone back to the story of ‘Porgy and Bess’ and made changes, including to the ending.” She’s going to change the ending? The ending is the BEST: Porgy, freed from jail, returns to Catfish Row only to find Bess has run off to New York with that no-good Sportin’ Life. “Bring me my goat!” he commands, referring to the goat-driven cart he uses to get around (although not, apparently, in this production; he’ll use a cane instead). And off he heads to New York, leading the chorus in the rousing “Oh Lord, I’m on my way.” What is Parks going to do instead, send Bess to rehab? This is kind of like saying that had E.B. White lived, Charlotte would be happily spinning sheets for Fern’s babies.
So now I’m just hoping it won’t be the adolescent disaster that was ART’s Cabaret.