Sunday, June 07, 2009

Porgy and Bess at SF Opera House

Porgy and Bess was another hit Saturday afternoon at the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco. At the dress rehearsal, it was great seeing so many black people working. The absence of black faces in the opera orchestra was disappointing—not a one, and the "Bess" character really needs a self-esteem class or/and mentoring. She was certainly a vessel without content, unless poured by one of the more unscrupulous men in her life like Crown or Sportin’ Life. Porgy was the more positive influence but only when he was physically around. What’s sad is that the “Besses” exist…little girls are groomed socially to please men, to be what men want—these girls who fall into the such linguistic and social or economic traps end up like Bess— Both Bess and Porgy are tragic, Bess because she doesn’t know what she wants and when she finds it, can’t hold onto it, and Porgy is tragic because he loves this woman more than the loneliness he faces without her, so much so he is willing to kill and be killed.

I didn't remember the references to Bess's red hair in the lyrics and I like Porgy better as a paraplegic. The actor/singer, Eric Owens certainly swings it, but there is something about that wooden cart that adds to the pathos, misery and drama. I remember seeing the opera ten years ago. It was in the summer, I think, and my friend gave me a ticket for my birthday present. I think it was my first opera in the orchestra. I was tickled and awed. I wasn't awed today--too high up to see, but the tour gave me a few wows,especially when I got a chance to peek into the orchestra pit--yes, the one where there were no black musicians.

It opens June 9, 8 p.m. and runs June 12, 8 p.m., June 14, 7:30 p.m., June 18, 7:30 p.m., June 21, 2 p.m., June 24, 7:30 p.m., June 27, 8 p.m. It is three hours and fifteen minutes. This includes an intermission (at the rehearsal).

Pictures are Eric Owens speaking to guests back stage. The other three women were supernumeraries (extras) and photos inside the opera house. The photo with me is with Eric Greene "Jake, the fisherman, father and Clara's husband."

I hadn't remembered the hurricane, but post-Katrina, I felt Oya's turbulence. The lights rock and dim and the orchestra sounds like crashing waves. It was an experience I wasn't looking forward to reliving, even vicariously, so be warned.


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