Berliner Philharmoniker / Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Chorus

Sir Simon Rattle

Sir Simon Rattle

© Jim Rakete

  • In English

Past Dates

18:00 work introduction

On Friday, 14th September at 17:30
the Education Programme presents MusicDANCE
in the Foyer of the Philharmonie

With Porgy and Bess, which premiered in 1935 in New York and went on to become the great US national opera, George Gershwin created America’s first major opera. Numbers such as “Summertime” and “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’”, became part of modern American folklore through their popularity.

Gershwin’s opera is based on the novel Porgy (1925) by Edwin Du Bose Heyward, and its Pulitzer Prize-winning stage version from 1927. The action is set in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1870, and depicts the Afro-Americans’ tough struggle for survival. Even after the abolition of slavery, they did not find themselves in the Promised Land. They were still socially disadvantaged and subjected to acts of violence. In the three acts of his full-length opera, Gershwin reworked the traditional music of Afro-American culture – spirituals, blues, ragtime and jazz - imitating these various musical styles without using actual samples. The composer convincingly transferred characteristic melodic turns, phrasings, harmonies and rhythms to operatic voices and orchestral parts. As the composer explained, “Porgy and Bess is a folk tale. (…) When I first began work on the music I decided against the use of original folk material because I wanted the music to be all of one piece. Therefore I wrote my own spirituals and folk songs. But they are still folk music – and therefore, being in operatic form, Porgy and Bess becomes a folk opera.”

Over a decade since making his landmark recording of this great American opera, Sir Simon Rattle finally conducts the work in Berlin. In this performance, exclusively prepared for Musikfest Berlin 2012, the Berlin Philharmonic meets the Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Chorus and an outstanding ensemble of soloists led by Measha Brueggersgosman and the legendary Sir Willard White in the title roles. Porgy and Bess is a co-production of the Berlin Philharmonic Foundation (Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker) and the Berliner Festspiele/Musikfest Berlin.

The Gershwins’
Porgy and Bess
by George Gershwin, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin
Opera in three acts [1935]
concertante performance

Sir Willard White bass-baritone (Porgy)
Latonia Moore soprano (Bess)
Howard Haskin tenor (Sportin’ Life)
Lester Lynch baritone (Crown)
Rodney Clarke baritone (Jake, a fisherman)
Angel Blue soprano (Clara, Jake’s wife)
John Fulton tenor (Robbins, a young fisherman)
Andrea Baker soprano (Serena, Robbin’s wife)
N.N. tenor (Peter, an old black man)
Tichina Vaughn mezzo soprano (Maria, his wife)
Michael Redding baritone (Jim)
and others

Cape Town Opera Voice of the Nation Chorus /
Albert Horne coach
Berliner Philharmoniker
Sir Simon Rattle conductor

A Foundation Berliner Philharmoniker event
in cooperation with the Berliner Festspiele / Musikfest Berlin