A new production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess— starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue—opens the Metropolitan Opera’s 135th season on September 23
September 13th, 2019
A new production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess—starring Eric Owens and Angel Blue—opens the Metropolitan Opera’s 135th season on September 23
- The new staging marks the first Met performances of the classic American opera in nearly 30 years
- Director James Robinson and choreographer Camille A. Brown make their Met debuts, with David Robertson on the podium
- A live simulcast of the opening night performance will be relayed to Times Square, free to the public
- The February 1 performance will be transmitted live around the world as part of The Met: Live in HD series
- A major exhibition in the opera house spotlights Black Voices at the Met; many other special events will complement the production throughout the season
New York, NY (September 12, 2019)—The Metropolitan Opera opens its 2019–20 season with a new production of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess on Monday, September 23, the first presentation of this great American opera at the Met in almost three decades. Eric Owens and Angel Blue sing the title roles, with conductor David Robertson on the podium. The cast for James Robinson’s staging, featuring new choreography by Camille A. Brown, also includes Golda Schultz and Janai Brugger as the young mother Clara, Ryan Speedo Green as her husband Jake, Frederick Ballentine as drug dealer Sportin’ Life, Latonia Moore as the religious Serena, Alfred Walker as the brutal stevedore Crown, and Denyce Graves as Maria, the matriarch of Catfish Row.
A live simulcast of the opening night performance on September 23 will be presented free to the public in Times Square; the production will also be transmitted live to cinemas around the world on February 1, 2020, as part of The Met: Live in HD series. In celebration of the opera’s historic return to the Met stage, a special exhibit in the Met’s Founders Hall—Black Voices at the Met—chronicles the remarkable impact of black artists on the company over the last century. A companion CD—Black Voices Rise: African American Artists at the Met, 1955–1985—further explores the stellar artistry of black singers at the Met, including rare excerpts from the 1985 company premiere of Porgy and Bess. A full range of other related talks and special events are planned throughout the season.
With music by George Gershwin and a libretto by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin, Porgy and Bess explores the relationships among members of a close-knit community in 1920s South Carolina. The score is infused with timeless melodies that have become standards of the Great American Songbook, including “Summertime,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin,” and “My Man’s Gone Now.”
The new co-production with English National Opera and Dutch National Opera was hailed as a triumph at its premiere in London and has subsequently played to great acclaim in Amsterdam. The creative team includes set designer Michael Yeargan, costume designer Catherine Zuber, lighting designer Donald Holder, and video designer Luke Halls.
Following seven initial performances through October 16, the production returns for seven additional performances January 8–February 1, 2020, with several new cast members. The performance on October 13 is part of the season’s new series of Sunday matinee performances; at this performance, the role of Bess will be sung by Elizabeth Llewellyn.
Porgy and Bess Special Events
The Met will present a series of talks, events, collaborations, and historical explorations surrounding the premiere of Porgy and Bess, providing context to this work’s important place in the repertory and in the Met’s history. Below is a sampling of events; more will be added soon. More information is available here.
Black Voices at the Met
Open to the public daily beginning September 23
Founders Hall, Metropolitan Opera House
The season-long exhibition, curated by scholars Maurice Wheeler and Carolyn Guzski and art historian Jessica Bell Brown, explores the period during which African American artists were denied opportunities at the company, the arrival of black singers at the Met—beginning with Marian Anderson’s historic 1955 debut—and the many legendary performers who have appeared on the Met’s stage in the decades since.
This exhibition is made possible by the Ford Foundation.
More information is available here.
Special CD Release
Black Voices Rise: African American Artists at the Met, 1955–1985
Available September 18 in the Met Opera Shop and online
Black Voices Rise: African American Artists at the Met, 1955–1985 showcases live performances by some of the nation’s most celebrated and history-making singers, including Marian Anderson, who broke the Met’s color barrier with her debut in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera in 1955. Other notable artists featured include Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry, Shirley Verrett, Kathleen Battle, Robert McFerrin, Martina Arroyo, and George Shirley, among many others. This recording also includes rare excerpts from the 1985 Met premiere of Porgy and Bess, starring Simon Estes and Roberta Alexander in the title roles.
More information is available here.
Works & Process: Porgy and Bess
Monday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, 1071 Fifth Avenue
Met General Manager Peter Gelb leads a conversation at the Guggenheim Museum with Porgy and Bess director James Robinson and choreographer Camille A. Brown, along with stars Eric Owens, Angel Blue, and Golda Schultz, who will all perform.
More information is available here.
Porgy and Bess: Special Pre-Season Event
Tuesday, September 17 at 7 p.m.
Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center, 1 East 65th Street
Members of the cast of Porgy and Bess, including Eric Owens, Angel Blue, and Golda Schultz, will explore the Gershwins’ enduring masterpiece through performance and conversation with Peter Gelb, moderated by NY1’s Errol Louis.
More information is available here.
Film Screening: Porgy and Bess
Thursday, September 19 at 7 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street
Otto Preminger’s famous but seldom-seen 1959 film adaptation of the Gershwins’ opera will be presented by Film at Lincoln Center, preceded by a panel discussion with Preminger biographer Foster Hirsch, scholar Maurice Wheeler, and tenor Frederick Ballentine, who sings Sportin’ Life in the new Met production.
More information is available here.
Film Screening: An American in Paris
Friday, September 20 at 7 p.m.
Walter Reade Theater, 165 West 65th Street
In celebration of the Gershwins and Porgy and Bess, Film at Lincoln Center presents the classic Gershwin-scored film, by director Vincente Minelli, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron.
More information is available here.
Porgy and Bess Worldwide Broadcasts in Cinema, Radio, and Online
The performance of Porgy and Bess on Saturday, February 1, will be transmitted live to more than 2,200 movie theaters in more than 70 countries as part of the Met’s Live in HD series.
The September 23, October 16, January 15, and February 1 performances of Porgy and Bess will be broadcast live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius XM Channel 75. The September 23 performance will be streamed live on the Met’s web site, metopera.org, and the February 1 performance will be broadcast over the Toll Brothers–Metropolitan Opera International Radio Network.
Free Opening Night Screening in Times Square
A 14-year tradition continues as the Met once again partners with the Times Square Alliance to present a free, live transmission of the season-opening performance to the iconic screens of Times Square. This year’s simulcast of Porgy and Bess is Monday, September 23; pre-show begins at 5:30 p.m. and the opera begins at 6 p.m. Attendance is free, and no tickets are required. Seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at Duffy Square and the Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets, with additional standing room available.
The participating screens in Times Square include ABC SuperSign, American Eagle Times Square, Branded Cities: Thomson Reuters Sign and Nasdaq Tower, and Clear Channel’s Spectacolor HD 126, 127, and 128.
The live transmission to Times Square is made possible with the cooperation of the City of New York, with leadership support provided by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional funding is provided by the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Opera News. This program is also supported, in part, by the Howard Gilman Foundation and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
The simulcast is presented in partnership with the Times Square Alliance.
Porgy and Bess Artist Biographies
American soprano Angel Blue has previously sung the role of Bess at Seattle Opera. She made her Met stage debut in the 2017–18 season as Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème and returned in the 2018–19 season as Musetta. Her Met credits also include performances in the Summer Parks Recital Series in 2016. Recent performances include the title role of Puccini’s Tosca at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Mimì at the Canadian Opera Company and the Semperoper Dresden, and Violetta in Verdi’s La Traviata at Seattle Opera, La Scala, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Also this season, she sings Mimì at Seattle Opera and Hamburg State Opera, Tosca at Lyon Opera, and reprises Violetta at La Scala.
South African soprano Golda Schultz makes her Met role debut as Clara. She made her Met debut as Pamina in the 2017–18 season in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte,followed by performances as Nanetta in Verdi’s Falstaff last season. Other roles include Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro at La Scala, the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro at Opernhaus Zürich and the Glyndebourne Festival, and Sophie in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival. This season she sings Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen at Bavarian State Opera and Liù in Puccini’s Turandot at Vienna State Opera. Later this season at the Met, she will sing as Sophie under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle.
American soprano Janai Brugger sings Clara. A winner of the Met’s National Council Audtions in 2012, she made her Met debut that year as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot, and her other Met roles have included Helena in the Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island, Jemmy in Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen. Other recent roles include Susanna in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro and Clara at Cincinnati Opera, Servilia in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at LA Opera and Dutch National Opera, and Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Later this season, she will also sing Clara at Washington National Opera.
American soprano Latonia Moore sings Serena, a role she has previously sung at the English National Opera and Dutch National Opera. She made her Met debut in 2012 singing the title role in Verdi’s Aida after replacing a sick colleague on short notice for a live broadcast performance. She received rave reviews for her performance and has sung the role at the Dallas Opera, Opernhaus Zürich, Opera Australia, Cincinnati Opera, and the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Her other credits include the title role of Puccini’s Tosca at Washington National Opera, Aida at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Met, the Hamburg State Opera, and San Diego Opera. Later this season, she will also sing Serena at Washington National Opera.
American mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves makes her Met role debut as Maria. She returned to the Met for the first time in more than a decade last season to sing the role of Marnie’s Mother in Nico Muhly’s Marnie. She made her Met debut in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen in 1995, and since then has been seen at the Met as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Dalila in Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila, Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller, and Maddalena in Verdi’s Rigoletto. Other recent performances include The Old Lady in Bernstein’s Candide at Washington National Opera and Palm Beach Opera, Mrs. De Rocher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at Minnesota Opera, Grace in the world premiere of Daniel Sonenberg’s The Summer King at Pittsburgh Opera, and Emelda Griffith in Terence Blanchard’s Champion at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Washington National Opera. She will reprise Maria at Washington National Opera later this season.
American tenor Frederick Ballentine makes his Met debut as Sportin’ Life, a role he has previously sung at English National Opera, Dutch National Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and the Glimmerglass Festival. An alumnus of the young artist programs at Washington National Opera and LA Opera, he has been seen as the High Priest of Amon in Philip Glass’s Akhnaten at LA Opera, the Messenger in Verdi’s Aida at Washington National Opera, and the Steersman in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer at Cincinnati Opera. This season he sings Monostatos in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte at LA Opera, Charlie Parker in Daniel Schnyder’s Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle Opera, and Sportin’ Life at Washington National Opera.
American bass-baritone Eric Owens adds a new role to his Met repertory as Porgy, a role he has previously sung at Dutch National Opera. A winner of the Met’s National Council Auditions in 1996, he made his company debut in 2008 as General Leslie Groves in John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, followed by roles as Sarastro in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Orest in Strauss’s Elektra, Jaufré Rudel in the Met premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin, Gnome in Dvořák’s Rusalka, Voice of Neptune in Mozart’s Idomeneo, and both Alberich and Hagen in Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. With the 2019–20 season, he begins a new role with the Curtis Institute of Music co-leading the Vocal Studies Department and Curtis Opera Theatre, alongside Danielle Orlando. This season, he also sings King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at Santa Fe Opera.
American bass-baritone Alfred Walker sings Crown. A graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, he made his Met debut in 1998 as Grégorio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette. His other roles at the Met include the Speaker in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Titurel in Wagner’s Parsifal, Parsi Rustomji in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, and the Commissioner in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Other recent performances include Porgy in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Amonasro in Verdi’s Aida at Seattle Opera, Orest in Strauss’s Elektra at San Francisco Opera, and the Dutchman in Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer at Cologne Opera. This season he also sings Porgy at Washington National Opera and Peter in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel at San Francisco Opera.
A graduate of the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and a winner of the Met’s National Council Auditions, American bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green made his Met debut in 2012 as the Mandarin in Puccini’s Turandot, followed by roles as the Second Knight in Wagner’s Parsifal, the Jailer in Puccini’s Tosca, the Bonze in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Rambo in John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer, Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème, the High Priest Oroe in Rossini’s Semiramide, and the King in Verdi’s Aida. Also this season, he will be seen as Banquo in Verdi’s Macbeth, Raimondo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Ferrando in Verdi’s Il Trovatore at Vienna State Opera.
American conductor David Robertson has conducted nine operas at the Met. He made his company debut leading Janáček’s The Makropulos Case in 1996, and since then has conducted Bizet’s Carmen; Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Le Nozze di Figaro; Britten’s Billy Budd; Janáček’s Jenůfa; and new productions of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys and John Adams’s The Death of Klinghoffer. In 2018, he was named the Director of Conducting Studies at Juilliard. He is Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and was previously the Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent guest conductor at many of the world’s leading opera companies and orchestras, including La Scala, Bavarian State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera.
American director James Robinson makes his Met debut directing Porgy and Bess. Since 2009, he has been the Artistic Director of Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where he has directed operas such as John Adams’s Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, Weill’s Street Scene, Argento’s Miss Havisham’s Fire, Peter Ash’s The Golden Ticket, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Terence Blanchard’s Champion. He has also directed at Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Opera Australia, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera, San Diego Opera, San Francisco Opera, the Dallas Opera, and Santa Fe Opera.
American choreographer Camille A. Brown makes her Met debut with Porgy and Bess. A Tony Award nominee, her work has been seen with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, on Broadway in Choir Boy and Once on This Island, in the Public Theater’s production of Much Ado About Nothing for the summer Shakespeare in the Park series, in Roundabout Theater’s Toni Stone, and in the Emmy Award winning television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. She is a four-time Princess Grace Award winner, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, a Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner, a Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, and a TED Fellow. Immediately following Porgy and Bess, she choreographs the Public Theater’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf.
American set designer Michael Yeargan has designed 12 productions for the Met, including Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Rossini’s Le Comte Ory and Il Barbiere di Siviglia. He made his Met debut in 1993 with his designs for Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. A two-time Tony Award winner, his designs for Seascape, The Light in the Piazza, South Pacific, Awake and Sing, and Ah, Wilderness have all been seen on Broadway. He is a professor at the Yale School of Drama.
British costume designer Catherine Zuber has been designing for productions at the Met since her debut with Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia in 2006. A seven-time Tony Award winner, her work has been seen on Broadway in productions such as How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Born Yesterday, South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza, and The King and I. She has designed for opera houses around the world including English National Opera, Washington National Opera, San Francisco Opera, and the Salzburg Festival. Her costume designs are currently featured in the new Broadway production of Moulin Rouge!.
American lighting designer Donald Holder’s credits at the Met include Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, Verdi’s Otello, and Saint-Saëns’s Samson et Dalila. He has been nominated for 13 Tony Awards in a career featuring over 50 productions on Broadway, including his work in the renowned Julie Taymor production of The Lion King. His most recent work on Broadway includes Tootsie, Kiss Me Kate, and My Fair Lady.
American designer Luke Halls made his Met debut with Verdi’s Otello in 2015. His video designs and animations have been seen in Bizet’s Carmen for Bregenz Festival, Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen for the Royal Danish Opera, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Szymanowski’s King Roger for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Theater work includes The Lehman Trilogy and Ugly Lies the Bone for the UK’s National Theatre, and The Nether for the Royal Court, as well as the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Closing Ceremonies. He has created video designs and animation for tours by Adele, Beyoncé, Pet Shop Boys, U2, and Rihanna, among others. Forthcoming projects include the new Broadway production of West Side Story, directed by Ivo Van Hove.
For More Information
For further details on Porgy and Bess, including casting by date, please click here.
Porgy and Bess
By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin
Monday, September 23 at 6:00 p.m.
Friday, September 27 at 8:00 p.m.
Monday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 5 at 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 13 at 3:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 18 at 8:00 p.m.
Friday, January 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 1 at 1:00 p.m.
Camille A. Brown*
Angel Blue (Sept. 23, 27, 30; Oct. 5, 10, 16; Jan. 8, 11, 15, 18, 24, 28; Feb. 1)
Elizabeth Llewellyn* (Oct. 13)
Golda Schultz (Sept. 23, 27, 30; Oct. 5, 10; Jan 28; Feb. 1)
Janai Brugger (Oct. 13, 16; Jan 8, 11, 15, 18, 24)
Eric Owens (Sept. 23, 27, 30; Oct. 5, 10, 13, 16;
Jan. 15, 18, 24, 28; Feb. 1)
Kevin Short (Jan. 8, 11)
Ryan Speedo Green (Sept. 23, 27, 30; Oct. 5, 10, 13, 16)
Donovan Singletary (Jan. 8, 11, 15, 18, 24, 28; Feb. 1)
The worldwide copyrights in the works of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for this presentation are licensed by the Gershwin family.
GERSHWIN is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises. Porgy and Bess is a registered trademark of Porgy and Bess Enterprises.
A co-production of the Metropolitan Opera; Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam; and English National Opera
Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington Endowment Fund and Douglas Dockery Thomas
For prices and ticket information, please call (212) 362-6000 or visit metopera.org.
Special rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling (212) 341-5410 or visiting metopera.org/groups.