Thursday, August 4, 2011

My review...Seattle Opera, Porgy and Bess

Very briefly (I'll get back to this)...I was exceedingly disappointed with Seattle Opera's Porgy and Bess! I have front row, center seats. Anyway, check back...I'll describe what wasn't done well at all.
I thought I might add a few comments to this while I have a minute.
First, due to an original request (or requirement) by Gershwin, Porgy and Bess is made up of black performers playing all the black parts. This seems to have been accomplished by Seattle Opera by setting aside most of the normal members of the chorus and bringing in local black singers as temporary replacements. (I'm not sure how that was okay with the union but...okay.) Anyway, the chorus was spectacular and I appreciate the magnificent efforts of the chorus director.
Most of the cast was...okay...sort of...when I could hear them. That was the problem!
Porgy (Gordon Hawkins) seems to have a decent voice although he seemed very weak in the lower register notes. Basically, I heard very little of what he sang because the orchestra overpowered almost everything.
Bess (Lisa Daltirus)...I had the same impression of her as with Porgy. Her lower register was inaudible and the rest was mostly drowned out by the orchestra.
I'll get back to Serena (Mary Elizabeth Williams)...
I liked Crown but he was overwhelmed too often by the orchestra.
Sportin' Life was good (!) and delivered good sound that I could actually hear!
Clara might as well not have bothered singing...especially the opening "Summertime". I heard almost nothing.
Maria...there was a point in the second act (I think) when Maria, Porgy and Serena sang together...Maria was (apparently) singing and was obviously gesticulating and playing up her part very well...however, I sat laughing at my seat because, even though I was certain she MUST have been singing, I never heard a single sound from her. It was very funny (and pitiful). The orchestra was so loud for her weak voice! I barely heard anything from Porgy either! Here's the problem...Serena was wonderful! She had a powerful voice that cut right through and above the din of the orchestra! That means to me that maybe the orchestra really wasn't so loud. Maybe most of the singers were very VERY weak.
Crab Man...he was another whose voice was sufficient for the venue.

My seats are in the front row.

In rehearsals, how could the company NOT have noticed that the voices disappeared? How could they NOT have sat in various areas of the hall so they could determine changes had to be made? It seems like they just had to bring the performers forward on the stage and/or have the orchestra quiet down a bit for all those weak voices. It was very disappointing.

In general, it was a wonderfully, entertaining performance but it could have been SO much better if I could have heard more than a few of the cast members and the chorus. Something is very wrong that this group made up of incredibly weak and sufficiently powerful singers were ever placed on stage together. Is it all about casting? If so, I give the casting director an F-minus. It reminds me of (some years ago) I went to see Turandot at the old Seattle Opera house. I was anxious to hear Nessun Dorma and my seat was just beyond the middle on the floor. I heard almost nothing from the tenor. He was far too weak. What a waste!

Incidentally, I understand Seattle Opera is doing Carmen this season so I checked to see who's in it. I was afraid they'd go ahead and cast another gigantic (totally unbelievable in the part!) woman to play the lead role as they did with Madama Butterfly and so many others. They didn't do that this time. They cast Anita Rachvelishvll as Carmen. I never heard of her but at least she isn't gigantic...unfortunately, here's a review of her playing Carmenn elsewhere..."Leave it to the paradoxical world of la Scala to open their season with a "Carmen" where Carmen herself is the weakest link in an otherwise strong cast." This means I probably won't hear much of what she sings later this season. (I would have chosen Cecilia Angell as Carmen.)

No comments:

Post a Comment