Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Of These Mornings / You're Going To Rise Up Singing

Porgy and Bess is getting a fresh coat of paint à la Broadway: a new (happier) ending, extra dialogue, revamped music, modernized sets and costumes, the works!

Not to show my hand too soon, but based on the New York Times preview I think this production sounds amazing:
It seems as though the impetus for the makeover was a fleshing out of Bess' character - and, in fact, the musical is directed by Diane Paulus; Suzan-Lori Parks modernized the libretto; Deirdre L. Murray adapted the music; and Audra McDonald signed on for the title role. Despite the fact that this will be a commercial musical designed to appeal to a variety of theatergoers, the production team is in no way skimping on the issues written into the plot, including rape, drugs, poverty, and racism.
In other words: a group of strong, mostly African-American women are re-examining what has always been a (beloved, but) problematic opera, they are introducing an entirely new audience to an old work, they are making it relevant to the 21st century, they are pushing at the boundaries of how we interact with "the canon," and in the process they are making new art.

But Stephen Sondheim hates everything about it, so.

I could get on my soap box and write about how adaptations do not debase the original - but it may be enough to say that I would hate to live in a world without gems like these:

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