The Latvian public has been waiting for its chance to hear the complete ‘Porgy and Bess’ opera by George Gershwin for a very long time. The most popular fragments (including the famous ‘Summertime’) are often performed at concerts and other events; however, there has been only one full production on the Latvian stage – in 1973, at the Latvian National Opera when Rita Zelmane (Bess), Gurijs Antipovs (Porgy), Arturs Frinbergs (Sportin’ Life), LIlija Greidāne (Serena) and other soloists sang under the baton of the Estonian Maestro Eri Klas.

‘Porgy and Bess’ is a story of love and its transience, of passion, crime, social tragedies and the simple joys of everyday life – told in a vivid musical language.

The musical director of the Cēsis production will be Andris Poga, the artistic director of LNSO, who first immersed himself in ‘Porgy and Bess’ at the time when he was working as an assistant conductor at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Gershwin had stipulated that the four principal roles – the two name parts, as well as Crown and Sportin’ Life –  should be performed by black singers. In summer 2016, the Sportin’ Life of the Boston production – Jermaine Smith – is coming to Latvia; he will be joined by Latonia Moore, Lester Lynch, Rodney Clarke and a number of Latvian singers, among them – Margarita Vilsone, Sonora Vaice, Irma Pavāre, Ilona Bagele, Mihails Čuļpajevs, Rihards Mačanovskis et al.

The all-important choral parts will be the responsibility of the ‘Kamēr…’ youth choir and will be prepared under the principal conductor of the choir Jānis Liepiņš.

Both at the Cēsis Art Festival and in Liepāja, we are going to watch and listen to a partly staged version of Gershwin’s ‘Porgy and Bess’: the task of mounting this concert version of the opera has been undertaken by Viesturs Kairišs, a film director with considerable experience in the opera world (‘Die Zauberflöte’, ‘Götterdämmerung’, ‘Il tabarro’, ‘Gianni Schicchi’, ‘Suor Angelica’, ‘Eugene Onegin’, ‘Valentīna’, ‘Die Walküre’ and ‘Siegfried’ at the Latvian National Opera, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Komische Oper Berlin, ‘Der Freischütz’ at the Cologne Opera and ‘Macbeth’ at the Darmstadt Opera).

A performance of ‘Porgy and Bess’, an opera by George Gershwin

Porgy – Lester Lynch

Bess – Latonia Moore

Sportin’ Life – Jermaine Smith

Crown – Rodney Clarke

Also appearing – Sonora Vaice, Margarita Vilsone, Irma Pavāre, Ilona Bagele, Mihails Čuļpajevs, Rihards Mačanovskis, Rihards Millers and other singers

The Kamēr… Youth Choir

Latvian National Symphony Orchestra

Conductor Andris Poga

Director Viesturs Kairišs