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By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | February 4, 2010
S eventy-five years ago, the first great American opera - and, many would persuasively argue, the greatest American opera - was born. Not everyone noticed. An eminent critic complained about "a libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen [by a composer] who should never have attempted it." Another bristled at "sure-fire rubbish" in the score. But in time, George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" came into its own. The opera happens to be particularly prominent around the region these days.
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By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | May 9, 2013
Time was when American opera companies considered musicals as suspect artifacts from another planet, hardly worthy of serious attention -- not even on a par with the operettas those companies would occasionally stage when they needed a box office lift. Bit by bit, thinking has changed at a lot of places, and a welcome thing, too. Washington National Opera has enthusiastically embraced this broader view, offering an inspired staging of the path-breaking 1927 musical "Show Boat," a co-production with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (where it debuted last year)
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ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | March 26, 2010
The poor folk of Catfish Row are back onstage at the Kennedy Center, with all their warmth and kindness, passion and pettiness, superstition and faith, and they're as involving as ever in the brilliant Washington National Opera production of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." This revival of the company's 2005 staging reconfirms the incisive elements of Francesca Zambello's directorial concept, which largely overcomes the work's 1930s stereotypes of African-Americans. She knows how to craft a true ensemble effort, so that a real sense of community is ever-present.
NEWS
March 27, 2012
With regard to the production of "Porgy and Bess" to be presented at Morgan State University ("Morgan State to stage 'Porgy and Bess,'" March 23), it is interesting to note that the role of Sportin' Life was created by Avon Long, who along with Anne Brown, creator of the role of Bess, were graduates of Frederick Douglass High School. At Douglass, Brown and Long were taught by H. Llewelyn Wilson, Baltimore's most prominent black music educator. Wilson also taught at Morgan and was the conductor of the Colored Symphony Orchestra and Colored Chorus, which, along with the Colored Municipal Band and Colored Park Band, were funded by the Baltimore Municipal Department of Music.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Judith Green | September 10, 1998
How many times can we hear the music of "Porgy and Bess"? Luckily, many, as the opera is ubiquitous in this year of George Gershwin's centennial.Dallas Black Dance Theater is bringing a ballet version of Catfish Row to the Kennedy Center this weekend, featuring a legendary performance of the music.Hope Clarke, who choreographed the Opera America/Houston Grand Opera co-production of "Porgy" that toured the country in 1987, created this dance interpretation. The score is the jazz recording made by Miles Davis in 1958, with additional music by pops conductor Richard Hyman.
NEWS
By Glenn McNatt | March 10, 1998
COMPOSER George Gershwin auditioned more than 100 singers before settling on baritone Todd Duncan for the lead role in the original 1935 production of "Porgy and Bess." Duncan, who died Feb. 28 at age 95, was a consummate musician and one of the great voices of his age.I met Duncan last summer, when I visited him at his home in Washington. My visit had all the mystery and anticipation of a pilgrimage, for Duncan was a legendary figure who had influenced two generations of black singers.By the time of my visit, he was nearly blind and in frail health.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | February 4, 2010
Seventy-five years ago, the first great American opera - and, many would persuasively argue, the greatest American opera - was born. Not everyone noticed. An eminent critic complained about "a libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen [by a composer] who should never have attempted it." Another bristled at "sure-fire rubbish" in the score. But in time, George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" came into its own. The opera happens to be particularly prominent around the region these days.
FEATURES
By Wes Blomster and Wes Blomster,Knight-Ridder News Service | October 3, 1993
Is it any wonder that America's trade deficit remains catastrophic? To bring our greatest native opera, George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," to television we import a production from Great Britain.Quality, of course, and not the country of origin is the concern when "American Playhouse" and "Great Performances" join hands to open their seasons with "Porgy" at 8 p.m. Wednesday on PBS (channels 22 and 67). And in the staging of the opera, first seen at England's Glyndebourne Festival in 1986, they have found a performance that is close to perfect in every detail.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 4, 2005
Every aspect of George Gershwin's genius found its way into his opera Porgy and Bess - the uncommon variety and distinctiveness of melody, the powerful rhythmic undertow, the just-right degree of sentiment or humor. Above all, the humanity. Somehow, by focusing on the lives of dirt-poor African-Americans along the South Carolina coast, the composer shed light on all of us. Enriched by Gershwin's music, the story, based on DuBose Heyward's novel and play, gains the element of universality that characterizes all great works of art. It's real.
FEATURES
By David Bianculli and David Bianculli,Contributing Writer | October 6, 1993
Today is a major day for baseball fans: Two postseason games, including one played during that increasingly elusive setting known as daylight. And if you don't like baseball, there's always Gershwin.* "American League baseball playoffs" (3 p.m.-conclusion, WBAL, Channel 11) -- Game 2 from Chicago, with the White Sox squaring off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the only mandatory daytime game of the American League championship series. The only other sunshine contest would be Game 5, should the loser last night win at least one game before then.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun | March 23, 2012
It's a kind of a musical homecoming. "Porgy and Bess," the first and, many would say, greatest American opera, returns to Baltimore after a long absence with a large-scale production this week at Morgan State University, featuring several well-established singers who have come back to their alma mater for the occasion. In a way, the character of Bess is coming home, too. The creator of that role, Baltimore-born soprano Anne Brown, studied at what was then Morgan College before moving to New York and sharing the spotlight at the 1935 premiere of "Porgy and Bess.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | March 26, 2010
The poor folk of Catfish Row are back onstage at the Kennedy Center, with all their warmth and kindness, passion and pettiness, superstition and faith, and they're as involving as ever in the brilliant Washington National Opera production of George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess." This revival of the company's 2005 staging reconfirms the incisive elements of Francesca Zambello's directorial concept, which largely overcomes the work's 1930s stereotypes of African-Americans. She knows how to craft a true ensemble effort, so that a real sense of community is ever-present.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | February 9, 2010
T he balmy strains of Gershwin's "Summertime" went unheard at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. No one got a glimpse of "The Glass Menagerie" at Rep Stage or lived through the trauma of "Two Rooms" at Everyman Theatre. The adventures of the long-nosed hero of "Cyrano" went unlived at Center Stage. It was the snow that ate the arts, along with everything else. "The long and short of it is that it has taken quite a hit on us," says Ian Tresselt, managing director of Everyman, where performances Friday through Sunday had to be canceled because of the weather.
FEATURES
By Tim Smith | February 9, 2010
The balmy strains of Gershwin's "Summertime" went unheard at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. No one got a glimpse of "The Glass Menagerie" at Rep Stage or lived through the trauma of "Two Rooms" at Everyman Theatre. The adventures of the long-nosed hero of "Cyrano" went unlived at Center Stage. It was the snow that ate the arts, along with everything else. "The long and short of it is that it has taken quite a hit on us," says Ian Tresselt, managing director of Everyman, where performances Friday through Sunday had to be canceled because of the weather.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith | tim.smith@baltsun.com and Baltimore Sun reporter | February 4, 2010
S eventy-five years ago, the first great American opera - and, many would persuasively argue, the greatest American opera - was born. Not everyone noticed. An eminent critic complained about "a libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen [by a composer] who should never have attempted it." Another bristled at "sure-fire rubbish" in the score. But in time, George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" came into its own. The opera happens to be particularly prominent around the region these days.
ENTERTAINMENT
By Tim Smith and Tim Smith,tim.smith@baltsun.com | February 4, 2010
Seventy-five years ago, the first great American opera - and, many would persuasively argue, the greatest American opera - was born. Not everyone noticed. An eminent critic complained about "a libretto that should never have been accepted on a subject that should never have been chosen [by a composer] who should never have attempted it." Another bristled at "sure-fire rubbish" in the score. But in time, George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" came into its own. The opera happens to be particularly prominent around the region these days.
NEWS
September 20, 1993
James TyeskaOpera singer, teacherJames Tyeska, 43, a bass-baritone who was also a voice teacher at Sarah Lawrence College, died of acquired immune deficiency syndrome Sept. 5 at his home in New York City.Mr. Tyeska sang on the opera and concert stages. He was heard as Escamillo in the Peter Brook production of "La Tragedie de Carmen" at Lincoln Center, and as Malcolm X in "X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X" by Anthony Davis at the first American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia.This year, he made his debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin singing Porgy in "Porgy and Bess," was bass soloist in Verdi's "Requiem" with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, and performed in concert with the Tulsa Philharmonic.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen and Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporter | March 2, 2008
Nearly 73 years have passed since Baltimorean Anne Wiggins Brown, who played the role of Bess in the original production of George Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess, hauntingly sang "Summertime" before an audience seated in New York's Alvin Theatre. Broadway was a long way from Brown's girlhood home at 1501 Presstman St. She was born in Baltimore in 1912 or 1915 (there is slight variance on the exact date and month), the oldest of four daughters. Her father was Dr. Harry Francis Brown, a physician and grandson of a slave, and her mother, Mary Allen Wiggins, whose parents were of Scottish-Irish, black and Cherokee Indian descent, sang and played piano.
FEATURES
By TIM SMITH and TIM SMITH,SUN MUSIC CRITIC | November 4, 2005
Every aspect of George Gershwin's genius found its way into his opera Porgy and Bess - the uncommon variety and distinctiveness of melody, the powerful rhythmic undertow, the just-right degree of sentiment or humor. Above all, the humanity. Somehow, by focusing on the lives of dirt-poor African-Americans along the South Carolina coast, the composer shed light on all of us. Enriched by Gershwin's music, the story, based on DuBose Heyward's novel and play, gains the element of universality that characterizes all great works of art. It's real.
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