New Jersey State Opera Presents Porgy and Bess
NEW JERSEY STATE OPERA BRINGS GRAND OPERA BACK TO NEWARK WITH
THE GERSHWINS’ ‘PORGY AND BESS’
AT HISTORIC NEWARK SYMPHONY HALL
THE AMERICAN MUSICAL MASTERPIECE STARS
GREGG BAKER, LAQUITA MITCHELL, LESTER LYNCH, ANGELA BROWN, JANINAH BURNETT, ERIC GREENE, SABRINA CARTON, and LAWRENCE CRAIG
TWO PERFORMANCES — MAY 21 and 23
FULLY-STAGED PRODUCTION; 55-PIECE ORCHESTRA
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
New Jersey State Opera, under the leadership of Artistic Director and Maestro Jason C. Tramm and Managing Director Jonathan L. Quitt, announces the company’s return of grand opera to Newark with The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, presented for two performances only May 21 and 23 at historic Newark Symphony Hall (1030 Broad Street). Long considered the crowning achievement of its authors, George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess is based on DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s novel and play “Porgy.”
The American musical masterpiece stars acclaimed opera veterans bass-baritone Gregg Baker (Metropolitan Opera, NYCO, Radio City Music Hall, The Wiz, Timbuktu) and soprano Laquita Mitchell (SF Opera’s Porgy and Bess, Kennedy Center’s Master Class with Tyne Daly, 2004 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Prize Winner) take on the title roles, with baritone Lester Lynch (NYCO, Washington National Opera, LA Opera, Chicago Lyric) as Crown, soprano Angela Brown (Metropolitan Opera) as Serena, soprano Janinah Burnett (Metropolitan Opera) as Clara, bass-baritone Eric Greene (Washington National Opera, SF Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera) as Jake, Sabrina Carton as Maria, and baritone Lawrence Craig (NYCO) as Sportin’ Life.
Set in the fictional Catfish Row, South Carolina, Porgy and Bess is the bittersweet story of the crippled beggar Porgy transformed by his unexpected and improbable love for Bess, featuring some of the greatest songs in musical theatre including “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty o’ Nothin’,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Porgy and Bess opened at the Alvin (Neil Simon) Theatre on October 10, 1935, where it ran 124 performances, and starred Todd Duncan and Anne Brown. Four major NY revivals include producer Cheryl Crawford’s 1942 (and 1943 and 1944) Broadway production (at the Majestic and 44th Street Theatres and NY City Center) and National Tour (with a stop at the Mosque Theater in Newark – prior to its renamed Newark Symphony Hall); the 1953 revival at the Ziegfeld Theatre received its longest run with 305 performances and starred Leontyne Price; director Jack O’Brien directed the Houston Grand Opera’s Tony-winning 1976 mounting at the Uris (now Gershwin) Theatre and at Radio City Music Hall in 1983. On the 50th anniversary of its premiere Porgy and Bess entered the Metropolitan Opera’s repertory in 1985 (with subsequent mountings in 1986, 1989 and 1990). The landmark work was last seen at New York City Opera with productions in 2000 and 2002 (and received a “Live from Lincoln Center” broadcast).
Jonathan Eaton, Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, makes his NJ State Opera directing debut. He has directed New York City Opera’s Turandot, Carmen and Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci – all GREAT PERFORMANCES “Live from Lincoln Center” presentations. Maestro Jason C. Tramm conducts a 55-piece orchestra. The creative team includes sets and costumes are by Felix E. Cochren, Jr., courtesy of the Opera Company of Philadelphia. J. Donald Dumpson, Chorus Master; Rod Kinter, Fight Director; Barbara Brandt, Choreographer; Mark Hyczko, Assistant Conductor; Sharon Augsberger, Assistant Chorus Master.
Supporting roles are played by Richard C. Alston (Jasbo Brown), Michael Austin (Robbins), Patrick Blackwell (Undertaker/Jim), Roland Burks (Lawyer Frazier), Melanie Campbell (Strawberry Woman), Michael Janaros Cofield (Detective), Patrice Eaton (Lily), Elias Hendricks (Mingo/Crabman), Calvin Lee (Peter), Shannon Levy (Annie), Norman Miller (Policeman).
Members of the Ensemble: Ronald Baltimore, North Plainfield; Charles Carter, Jeryl Cunningham, Martin Fisher, Jonathan Gentry, Newark; Makeda Hampton, Ernest Jackson, Philadelphia; Joanne Jennet, Rahway; Naiomi Jones, LaToya Lain, Shannon Levy, Jersey City; Lisa Lockhart, Passaic; Aran McClary, East Orange; Kenny Smith; Andrea and Phumzile Sojola, East Orange; Morris Thomas, Philadelphia; Nathaniel Thompson, and Gregory Wright, Wayne.
“The New Jersey State Opera was founded on the principal that audiences deserve the grandest of art forms here in our home state,” said Artistic Director Jason C. Tramm. He continued, “It is an honor for me to be able to serve my home state and bring great opera back to Newark. Newark has been our home since 1972 and we are very excited about returning to historic Symphony Hall, where we performed for almost 25 years. “Porgy and Bess” is America’s greatest opera, a unique synthesis of classical and jazz, but the story of Catfish Row is just as relevant and touching today as it was in 1935 when it debuted.”
New Jersey State Opera gratefully acknowledges the support of The Star-Ledger, Prudential, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The MCJ Amelior Foundation, PNC, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, The Community Foundation of New Jersey, the Newark Alliance, Verizon Foundation, and for its production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
New Jersey State Opera’s production The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess will be presented at historic Newark Symphony Hall (1030 Broad Street, Newark, NJ) for two performances on Friday, May 21 at 8:00pm and Sunday, May 23 at 3:00pm. Single tickets are priced from $46.20 – $135.45. To purchase tickets by phone call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or visit ticketmaster.com. Tickets may also be purchased at the Newark Symphony Hall Box Office, 973-643-8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For Group Sales, VIP, and sponsorship opportunities; or more information contact New Jersey State Opera at 973- 623-5757 or email@example.com.
(Press release published courtesy of New Jersey State Opera)