After our 12+ hour a day rehearsal schedules of the past week, most of the musicians in the Saltnote Stageworks Festival are sleeping in and memorizing their parts today. Tonight is my first performance as a member of the Chorus for Porgy and Bess, the Concert Version. I love the music and appreciate the opportunity to sing such an amazing American Opera.
In his will, George Gershwin declared that in all fully staged productions the chorus would be made up of African Americans. Because we’re doing the Concert Version we do not have to follow this requirement. However it is odd for me as a white woman to sing in the chorus knowing I will never sing it in the fully staged Opera. Just feel odd. There are also some lyrics I am not sure how to sing (see today’s Inspiration Quote for an example). I am simply ignorant of how to sing lyrics which are in their content and phrasing from another time and place other than reading what is there and trying to be honest to the feeling behind them.
It is much easier to appreciate the soloists who take such difficult and charged music and not only do it justice, but make it their own. Especially fantastic are Marcus Allen Jordan (Porgy) in his performance “I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing”–he makes it an anthem of a simple life; Tiffany Roberts as Bess (also Suor Angelica); and Shareese Johnson singing Summertime is an inspiration. Anyhoo, off to more memorizing!
Today I am gay an’ I’m free
Oh just a bubblin,’ nothin’ troubblin’ me
Oh I can’t sit down
I can’t sit down
“Oh I Can’t Sit Down” from Porgy and Bess