Controversial opera workshopped at U of M gets its shot in NYC

Sep 10, 2019

After a successful run in Michigan, a restored edition of a controversial American opera is making its official debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Gershwin’s' Porgy and Bess" is set to premiere Sept. 23. The staging of the "performance edition" is the culmination of a long-in-the-works project by University of Michigan's Gershwin Initiative.

“Porgy and Bess” tells the story of a black community in Charleston that includes a big-hearted disabled beggar, Porgy, and a desperate prostitute, Bess, who fall for each other and endure great hardship as a result.

From its beginning, “Porgy and Bess” has elicited a wide range of reactions from audiences, as its depictions of African American-stereotypes have often stirred debate on whether the opera should still be produced and performed in the 21st Century.

University musicologist Mark Clague says in a release the initiative, a partnership with the Gershwin families, ensures George and Ira Gershwin's works can "be heard as the brothers imagined."