Nashville Symphony to Revive Original Porgy and Bess

Classic Arts News   Nashville Symphony to Revive Original Porgy and Bess
The Nashville Symphony will perform the original 1935 version of George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess on February 24 and 25.

The version to be performed includes the additions and edits that Gershwin made during rehearsals before the opening performance at New York's Alvin Theatre in October 1935. Subsequent productions of Porgy and Bess have not reflected these revisions, because the 700-page original score was published before the rehearsals took place.

Alan D. Valentine, president and CEO of the Nashville Symphony, said, "This version of Porgy and Bess with Gershwin's own personal edits really challenges what has been perceived for the past 70 years as the composer's final vision of the opera."

The performances will take place in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville. Conductor John Mauceri will lead the Nashville Symphony and Nashville Symphony Chorus in semi-staged concert performances, featuring Alvy Powell as Porgy and Marquita Lister as Bess.

Various institutions have recorded and staged Porgy and Bess using the published, edited version, but according to the Nashville Symphony, their production will be the first with Gershwin's approved edits since the original performances in 1935-36.

Musicologist Charles Hamm uncovered Gershwin's handwritten edits in five existing scores and discussed them in a 1987 issue of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, in an article titled "The Theatre Guild Production of Porgy and Bess." Mauceri restored the 1935 version using original materials stored at Yale University; he was assisted by Hamm, among others.

The Nashville Symphony plans to record the original Porgy for the Decca label.

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