Opera for the Masses

Kennedy Center Screens ‘Porgy & Bess’


    Those unfamiliar with the opera genre were able to view, for free, George Gershwin’s "Porgy & Bess" which stars a predominantly black cast, last Sunday on Nov. 6

    The event was made possible by the Washington National Opera Board of Trustees and Placido Domingo, which provided a simulcast of the matinee show for at the KennedyCenter for an audience of hundreds of men, women and children of practically every ethnic group that gathered on the National Mall.

    Opera is probably not at the top of the list of entertainment for blacks, but given their love of music and huge talent for the same, it is easy for them to become engrossed in the dramatic presentation through song and be appreciative of the enormous skill and training of the voices on stage.

    "Porgy & Bess," as is true for most operas, tells a story about common people. It takes place in a Negro slum area in Charleston, S.C. Porgy, who is crippled, falls in love with Bess, who was involved with another man named Crown. Porgy eventually stabs him and is apprehended.Then Bess runs off with a drug pusher and Porgy attempts to travel to New York to find her.

    In addition to a number of lead singers, there are about three times as many background singers harmoniously blending highly-trained voices.

    At a time when the public school system finds music expendable in its curriculum, it was refreshing to see so many youth in the audience to experience this exposure. With the high interest in music on the part of black youth, especially, they had a chance to see a new world of music outside of their regular hip-hop diet and appeared glued to the screen until the final bows, cheering for the performers that were their favorite.