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The Tony Awards melange:

I assume everyone here knows the back story of Porgy and Bess.  It is the Gershwin brothers' classic American opera about poor folks.  African-Americans (as they were NOT called at the time.)  But it could have been about Tobacco Road folks too: there are some things all us poor people have in common, no matter our cultural differences, that the One Percenters will never understand.


There’s a spanking new version of “Porgy and Bess” on the way, one that seeks to transform the classic 1935 opera into a commercial Broadway musical. To that end, the director Diane Paulus and the playwright Suzan-Lori Parks have added new scenes, punched up some dialogue, invented biographical details and — most radically — added a more upbeat ending. Such tinkering with the renowned  Gershwin work was bound to draw fire from some quarters, and indeed it has, following the publication of an Arts & Leisure article by Patrick Healy about the production, which stars Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis.
http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/...

An interview with the stars:


Originally conceived by George Gershwin as an "American folk opera", Porgy and Bess premiered in New York in the fall of 1935 and featured an entire cast of classically trained African-American singers—a daring artistic choice at the time. Gershwin chose the African-American musician Eva Jessye as the choral director for the opera.

The work was not widely accepted in the United States as a legitimate opera until 1976, when the Houston Grand Opera production of Gershwin's complete score established it as an artistic triumph. Nine years later, the Metropolitan Opera of New York gave their first performance of the work. This production was also broadcast as part of the ongoing Saturday afternoon live Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. The work is now considered part of the standard operatic repertoire and is regularly performed internationally. Despite this success, the opera has been controversial; some critics from the outset have considered it a racist portrayal of African Americans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/...

Yes, and some critics think it's racist to point out that Mitt Romney is a white racist bastard who came out of a so-called church (read: cult) that didn't allow blacks to join until about thirty years ago.  But this is about theater, not about politics...

or is it?

Apologies for the brief commercial, but no apology for Billie Holiday:

Originally posted to Chez Youff on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by An Ear for Music and Theatricals.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Lagniappe: (12+ / 0-)

    George Gershwin's Concerto in F:

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:53:37 PM PDT

  •  Could you soon spare a post for (3+ / 0-)

    Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:13:53 PM PDT

  •  Seeing that Billie Holiday rendition of (4+ / 0-)

    Strange Fruit always reminds me of Denise Oliver Velez's diary from 2008: Strange Fruit revisited.

    “Mitt Romney is the only person in America who looked at the way this Congress is behaving and said, ‘I want the brains behind THAT operation.’ ” — Tom Perriello

    by hungrycoyote on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:17:07 PM PDT

    •  I listen to it once in a while (5+ / 0-)

      b/c it is so very far from my experience, and yet...these things keep happening.  Like that poor man who was tied to a truck in Texas and dragged until he died.  And that was only -- what? -- maybe five years ago?

      And my mother (who was forty years older than me) told me about when the cross was burned on their lawn by the Klan.

      We aren't black.  The bigots simply thought we were Jewish, b/c my grandfather had a few corner stores in western PA.

      Mom was always a Republican -- I don't know why, except b/c her father was always a Republican.  Which makes NO sense whatsoever, but then again...Mom thought calling me a "free thinker" was an insult and I thought it was a compliment.

      So there ya go.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 05:54:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trader Joe's peanut butter is recalled (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, belinda ridgewood

    This has nothing to do with my post...I'm just listening to the news right now, and Trader Joe's peanut butter has salmonella in it.

    So, okay, what is a peanut butter lover to do?

    If you have a food processor....

    Take a cup or two of raw peanuts and toast them in a 350 degree oven, tossing occasionally, until they're brown.

    Now: you have to read the instructions for your food processor.  For mine, I can only process one cup of peanuts at a time.  You will want to add a touch of salt, but otherwise, it's food process them into butter.

    To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

    by Youffraita on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 06:07:51 PM PDT

  •  Porgy and Bess is a product of its time ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PSzymeczek, Youffraita

    ... so there are racist overtones. But it's still a very human story of love and betrayal, of survival when the odds are against you and yours. The score and lyrics are among the greatest from any American stage production or opera. How many musical artists have covered the song "Summertime"? Hundreds? Thousands? I'm personally partial to the film version with Sidney Poitier although it has its problems. The movie soundtrack is a classic recording, although unavailable on CD or digital downloads for unknown legal reasons. I have two copies of the rare LP of the movie soundtrack, and play one or the other often. Thanks for posting this thoughtful diary.

    Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me, "how good, how good does it feel to be free? " And I answer them most mysteriously, "are birds free from the chains of the skyway? " (Bob Dylan)

    by JKTownsend on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 10:56:52 PM PDT

    •  You are more than welcome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JKTownsend

      Thanks for watching and commenting.

      I was quite impressed by the clips of the new version...well, those are the ones in my diary.

      Wish I'd been able to see the whole production -- and I'd really love to see the whole 1970s production, too.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:05:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  sondheim's favorite desert island disc n/t (0+ / 0-)
  •  My favorite Gershwin piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Youffraita

    has always been "Rhapsody in Blue."

    You can't keep a mighty tree alive (much less expect it to thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at its tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the grassroots. - Jim Hightower

    by PSzymeczek on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 03:44:17 PM PDT

    •  Oh yes. YES. (0+ / 0-)

      "Rhapsody in Blue" is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the greatest works ever, and certainly the greatest work ever invented by an American.

      But it's not a Theatricals post, unfortunately.   I mean, there's no acting.  And Theatricals is all about acting on stage, with or without music.

      To make the argument that the media has a left- or right-wing, or a liberal or a conservative bias, is like asking if the problem with Al-Qaeda is do they use too much oil in their hummus. Al Franken

      by Youffraita on Tue Sep 25, 2012 at 06:08:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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