Met Opera to hire all-black chorus for 'Porgy and Bess'

KXAN | 2/20/2019 | Staff
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NEW YORK (AP) - The Metropolitan Opera will hire an all-black outside chorus next season for its first presentation in nearly three decades of the Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess," which opens the season on Sept. 23.

Performances - Porgy - Bess - Gershwin - Family

Performances of "Porgy and Bess," which premiered in 1935, are licensed by the Gershwin family, which specifies an all-black cast.

"Certainly it's more complicated, but it's worth the complications because it's such a great piece," Met general manager Peter Gelb.

Porgy - George - Ira - Gershwin - DuBose

"Porgy," by George and Ira Gershwin, and DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, depicts a beggar in a poor African-American community of Charleston, South Carolina.

When the Met presented "Porgy" for the first time in 1985, it also hired an outside chorus - at the time, there were three black members of the Met's regular chorus of 81. That has increased to six in a group of approximately the same total now, the Met said.

Met - Institution - Gelb - African-Americans - Artists

"I think the Met is regarded as an institution that is colorblind when it comes to casting," Gelb said. "We have many African-Americans and other black artists who are appearing on our stage in major roles."

The Hungarian State Opera created controversy last year when it presented an unauthorized production with a largely white cast.

Donald - Palumbo - Met - Chorus - Master

Donald Palumbo, the Met chorus master, said about 400 people had auditioned for the "Porgy" chorus since November and 68 would be chosen for rehearsals that start Aug. 5.

"We will have two existing choruses at the same time in the building," he said. "It's going to be interesting but it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm hoping that they will interact as much as possible."

Eric - Owens - Angel - Blue - Cast

Eric Owens and Angel Blue head the opening-night cast, which is conducted by David Robertson and includes Denyce Graves, Latonia Moore, Golda Schultz and Ryan Speedo Green.

Then-Met music director James Levine insisted on an uncut version for...
(Excerpt) Read more at: KXAN
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