George Gershwin. Porgy and Bess (opera highlights)
Porgy and Bess, an opera by the legendary American composer, a major jazz innovator, George Gershwin (1898–1937), had its first performance in 1935. Even though the creative process was smooth, the realisation and reception of the opera was completely the opposite. The opera world was not ready for a "black opera", and the jazz world was not ready for an opera altogether. Even though Gershwin managed to find Afro-American singers for the leading roles, Porgy and Bess initially suffered lukewarm reception. Only a 1976 Houston Grand Opera production gained it popularity; now it is one of the best known and most frequently performed operas in the world.
The opera is set among the black residents of a fishing village in 1912 South Carolina. Bess, a woman with a disreputable history, tries to break free from her brutish lover suspected in murder. The only person willing to offer her shelter is the crippled Porgy. The music of Porgy and Bess reflects New York jazz roots and abounds in motives inspired by Afro-American folk songs, blues and spirituals. "Summertime", "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" and other songs from the opera remain among the top world music hits.
Tonight, the role of Bess will be sung by a well-known American soprano Laquita Mitchell. Performing in major venues of the United States, the singer is praised for her "purity of tone and vivid theatrical presence" (Opera News). She is a winner of multiple international awards including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Prize. Mitchell's partner on stage will be South African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana, who has impressed audiences and critics with "a rich, glowing voice and elegant legato" (The New York Times). He has performed in opera houses in Los Angeles, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Utah and Philadelpia as well as at Norwegian Opera and English National Opera.
The Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra will be led by its founder, artistic director and principal conductor, National Prize winner, Professor Gintaras Rinkevičius.