The first premier at the Hungarian State Opera might go down in opera history as a world sensation. András Almási-Tóth is to put The Gershwins®’ Porgy and Bess® on stage with Hungarian singers at the Erkel Theatre thus breaking the restriction of lmost forty years that only allowed all-black casts to perform the piece.
When George Gershwin’s masterpiece Porgy and Bess®was first produced in 1935, some – misunderstanding the intention of the composer – felt aggrieved at the prejudice strengthening against Afro-Americans.
Nothing could be further from Gershwin, who had studied their music for a long time, but to prevent their emancipation.
With the operatic hit like I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’ or Summertime that had such success as pop chart hits, the composer managed to put the Afro-American culture into the spotlight.
As an act in favour of the emancipation the librettist (and brother) of the composer, Ira Gershwin introduced the rule of the all-black cast in the 1980s, a few years before his death. Before this rule was introduced, the Hungarian State Opera had put Gershwin’s piece on stage with its own artists in the 1970s. Although this production, directed by András Mikó even had a revival a decade later, in the past four decades neither the Hungarian State Opera, nor any other company were not allowed to put Porgy and Bess®on stage if not complying with the rules.
This restriction is broken by the Hungarian State Opera in January 2018 following a two-year negotiation with the copyright holders. Having got the permission, the Opera produces the Gershwins®’ masterpiece with excellent Hungarian singers. Hopefully, this historic and sensational premiere can pave the way for other opera companies in the world so that this brilliant opera can be heard in more and more places.
Venue: Erkel Theatre
Premiere: 27 January 2018
Further performances: 28 January, 1, 8 February 2018
“The worldwide copyrights in the music of George and Ira Gershwin® for this presentation are licensed by the Gershwin Family.”
According to Tams-Witmark Music Library, Inc.:
The Hungarian State Opera did not receive permission to produce Porgy And Bess with a cast of Hungarian singers.
“The manner in which this production of Porgy And Bess is being produced is unauthorized and is contrary to the requirements for the presentation of the work.”