When most people think of opera they usually imagine something that is boring, too expensive, too long, elitist, stuffy, and unintelligible! It’s true, not all operas are for the faint of heart (I’m looking at you, Wagner!), but many are not as intimidating (or boring) as you might believe. A great example of this is George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
It’s sung in English and mixes traditional opera techniques with American jazz and folk music. Set in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920’s, it tells the story of a disabled man, Porgy, who tries to save a woman, Bess, from her abusive lover and drug addiction. You can check out a DVD of a 1992 stage production from the Glyndebourne Festival Opera here. You can also check out the 2012 New Broadway Cast recording or another recording of selections featuring Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
The Lyric Opera in Chicago is also presenting Porgy and Bess from November 17 through December 20th. They offer $20 student tickets for select performances through their NEXT Discount Student Ticket Program, which you can sign up for here. The Lyric Opera house is easily accessible via the Metra or CTA and they also offer discounted parking.
The 2012 Broadway Revival, starring Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis, won two Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical. Here’s a video from the 2012 Tony Awards with excerpts from the opera’s best known songs.