Simon Rattle conducts “Porgy and Bess”
Sir Simon Rattle
Sir Willard White, Latonia Moore
Porgy and Bess Concert Performance (03:21:42)
Sir Willard White Bass-Baritone (Porgy), Andrea Baker Soprano (Serena, His Wife), Howard Haskin Tenor (Sportin' Life), Latonia Moore Soprano (Bess), John Fulton Tenor (Robbins, A Young Fisherman), Lester Lynch Baritone (Crown), Angel Blue Soprano (Clara, His Wife), Rodney Clarke Baritone (Jake, Fisherman), Michael Redding Baritone (Jim), Tichina Vaughn Mezzo-Soprano (Maria), Albert Horne Chorus Master
Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Willard White in conversation with Sarah Willis (00:17:49)
Behind the scenes of “Porgy and Bess” (00:12:24)
Simon Rattle’s recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, which was released in 1989, is among the milestones in his discography. The interpretation was showered with prizes, including a Grammy Award. Now Sir Simon is performing the work with the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time. Willard White can be heard in the role of Porgy. He performed on Rattle’s recording as well; to the present day, he is considered the perfect embodiment of the role. At his side, Latonia Moore sings the role of Bess as a replacement for Measha Brueggergosman. Latonia Moore already caused a sensation this March when she took over the role of Aida at short notice at the Metropolitan Opera, where she “received an ecstatic ovation” (The New York Times).
In Gershwin’s work, composed in 1934-35, the two singers portray the heroes in a profoundly sad love story based in a black neighbourhood in South Carolina. Porgy, a crippled beggar, loves the beautiful but unstable Bess – so much that he murders for her. She in turn alternates between him and other shady men. The work ends openly, the sole certainty being that the protagonists will find no happiness in this world. As in other great operas, a foreboding of the tragic end is already woven into the love scenes.
One can truly say that one of the strengths of Porgy and Bess is its multi-faceted expressive range. That’s because besides the love story there is a vivid milieu study, full of catchy characters and scenes. The music is similarly variegated: close sometimes to symphonic jazz, sometimes to Italian verismo opera – and yet it never feels fragmented, but rather always held together by an irresistible dramatic force.