Food for thought: Is director of Broadway-bound ‘Porgy and Bess’ tinkering — or tampering — with a classic?

Proposed changes to “Porgy and Bess” before its Broadway revival range from replacing recitative with dialogue to brightening up the ambiguous ending. Supporters say this new, “Bess-centric” version fixes the original opera’s thematic problems. Detractors, including Stephen Sondheim, complain of disloyalty to Gershwin’s classic. (Check out this link to The New York Times: http://tinyurl.com/3ula3jn). What do you think?

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1 Response to "Food for thought: Is director of Broadway-bound ‘Porgy and Bess’ tinkering — or tampering — with a classic?"

  1. I don’t think that tinkering with a piece of musical theater or opera is such a terrible thing. In fact, it’s been done before and not much long-term suffering or damage was done. “Annie Get Your Gun” was given a new book for the revival starring Bernadette Peters; the more recent “Anything Goes” with Sutton Foster received the same.

    A few decades ago, Joseph Papp produced a version of “The Pirates of Penzance” that used electronic keyboards instead of a string section in the orchestra. There was a big uproar at the time, but in the long run, it didn’t really matter.

    In opera, there is a version of “Carmen” that employs spoken dialogue and one that has recitatives. And I know of a production of “The Magic Flute” that re-orders the scenes in the last act.

    So what? These aren’t sacred texts. I say, good luck to the new production of “Porgy and Bess.” Let it speak for itself.