Even if this version is musically diminished, as some purists say, the stunning ambition of composer George Gershwin’s musical vision still takes my breath away. In this innovative 1935 opera, the beautiful Bess struggles to live in a community that shuns her, and the only one who truly, selflessly loves her is the crippled but courageous Porgy. The songs are sung beautifully – when Norm Lewis, as Porgy, sings “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’” it’s like the sun coming out after a grimly cloudy day. Audra McDonald is a vocally thrilling Bess, and David Alan Grier brings out all the colors, light and dark, in the seductively slick Sportin’ Life. This Porgy & Bess doesn’t succeed on every point, but it’s a strong representation of a fascinating, flawed, ambitious work of art.
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