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Subject: Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera
From: Jeffrey Collord <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jeffrey Collord <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 6 Dec 2008 14:53:16 -0600

text/plain (60 lines)

I don't know if anyone has written on-list about Lyric's Porgy and Bess,
since I was away over Thanksgiving, but I saw the production last night and
thought it was very good.

I found the opera much more enjoyable and gripping than the first time I saw
it, which was probably in about 1983 or so. But that was at the Arie Crown
Theater, where row one is 100 feet from the stage - a truly grotesque place
to see or hear anything.

Last night I saw Lester Lynch as Porgy and Lisa Daltirus as Bess. I hadn't
heard of either, and Lisa Daltirus's bio did not place her in the first rank
of opera houses. However, her singing was a dead ringer for Leontyne Price,
I thought, which was a little uncanny but provided an evening of beautiful
singing. Her acting was a bit broad and melodramatic, yet I still believed
in her as Bess.  I found just one YouTube vid:  You can hear that the soft high
note in Patria Mia is right on, but lacks the "fruit" of Price. I noticed
this same tendency last night, where Ms. Daltirus had plenty of secure upper
register, it tended toward dryness. Otherwise, the voice was just
gorgeous. Lynch had a pleasant voice, although perhaps a stronger voice was
needed for the part and the space, but he was sweet and his acting very

This is the Francesca Zambello production from Washington, and it was very
dramatic and gripping. There was a huge ovation at the end, and, even on a
15-degree night in these economic times, the huge Civic Auditorium was
packed full of an enthusiastic audience. I heard a lot of comments before
and at intermission that suggested a very large number of audience members
unfamiliar with opera (such as the woman who asked me where to get the
programs). I think it's fantastic for different operas to bring in new
audiences. I'm not trying to write in code, either, for even though there
were many more African Americans in the audience than usual, many of the new
audience members were Caucasian (in fact, all of the comments that I
referred to were among Caucasians).

My cab driver on the way home didn't know a thing about opera, but loves
blues and jazz, blues and jazz. Apparently the musician Nitin Sawhney was
amused by this driver as well, because he put him into two numbers a few
years ago, Street Guru 1 and Street Guru 2. You may be amused to see these
videos and hear my cab driver.

Jeff Collord - Chicago

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