Photo Journal: Porgy and Bess at L.A. Opera

Classic Arts News   Photo Journal: Porgy and Bess at L.A. Opera
Francesca Zambello's acclaimed production of Porgy and Bess, first seen at Washington National Opera in 2005, has taken up residence at Los Angeles Opera this month. And we're pleased to offer below a few glimpses of the staging — which updates Charleston's Catfish Row to 1949, with hints of the civil rights struggle soon to come.

(Porgy himself, incidentally, is not the picturesque paraplegic with a goat usually seen in this work: he may walk slowly, with a limp and a crutch, but he's hardly defenseless.)

Because Gershwin's magnum opus is getting a lot of performances in a short time — a dozen between May 4 and May 20 — Los Angeles Opera has double-cast the main roles. Kevin Short and Morenike Fadayomi alternate with Alfred Walker and Indira Mahajan as Porgy and Bess. Lester Lynch and Terry Cook share the role of Crown; Victor Ryan Robertson and Jermaine Smith take turns as Sportin' Life; Laquita Mitchell and Alyson Cambridge alternate as Clara; Angela Simpson and Monique McDonald share the role of Serena.

On the podium is John DeMain, music director of nearby Opera Pacific (based at the Orange County Performing Arts Center) and of the Madison Symphony in Wisconsin. DeMain has history with this score — in fact, he made history with this score. He conducted the 1976 Houston Grand Opera production that restored Porgy and Bess to its original length and reclaimed it for the opera stage, and he was on the podium for the 2002 New York City Opera production that was broadcast on national television.

More details on L.A. Opera's Porgy and Bess are available, as are tickets, at

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All photos by Robert Millard for Los Angeles Opera.

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