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Porgy and Bess, The Mayflower
FROM South Carolina to Soweto in one stunning show.
Cape Town Opera transfers Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess from its Deep South roots to their homeland as they return to the UK after a brief but successful stint here three years ago.
As a recent visitor to South Africa, I don’t think the switch could have been more perfect, summing up as it does the poverty and strife yet colour and joy of Johannesburg’s most infamous t o w n - ship. The quality of the choral singing in this powerful reworking of the 1935 folk opera is pretty much unbeatable.
Smash hit Summertime is an undoubted highlight, alongside the still well known I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing.
Clearly a popular choice among Mayflower audiences, this version of Porgy and Bess brings us forward to the 1970s.
But despite the change of era, and what seems an easy transposition to South Africa, none of the meaning of this tale of love and morality is lost for a moment, even with the temporary surtitle malfunction.
Last night’s leads Otto Maidi and Sibongile Mngoma are a particularly strong vocal pair with Ntobeko Rwanqa (Crown) and Victor Ryan Robertson (Sporting Life) the epitome of evil.
A huge cast is supplemented by stylish costumes, a clever set and a few rip-roaring trumpet and drum improvisations.
It’s as exuberant and vibrant as opera can be.