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Porgy and Bess to return to the grand Budapest stage after 35 years


  • sponsored WLB

24/01/2018 6.51pm

The Erkel Theater is tuning up for a historic moment: this esteemed cultural establishment under the same umbrella as Budapest’s State Opera House will be presenting Porgy and Bess after 35 years. To be performed in English by a Hungarian cast, this Gershwin favorite was last seen by Budapest audiences back in 1983. Restrictions were then put upon productions of the 1935 classic. The upcoming show runs for four nights from January 27th. The premiere is already a sell-out.

Hosting pieces by the Hungarian State Opera while the gilded music palace on Andrássy Avenue undergoes renovation, the Erkel Theater will be the venue for the return of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, now back on the Budapest stage. This opera in three acts presents the lives of inhabitants of an African-American community in Charleston, South Carolina, through the love story of a crippled beggar and a drug-addicted woman. This bittersweet tale is evoked by popular songs as Summertime, I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’ and It Ain’t Necessarily So.

Photo: Magyar Állami Operaház

In Hungary, the show premiered at the Opera House in 1970 and it was played by Hungarian performers. A decade later, Porgy and Bess even got a revamp. Thereafter, new restrictions required the production to be cast in a way that respected the cultural background of the roles.

More relaxed casting conditions now allow Budapest's Erkel Theater to bring back the American enactment, performed by a native Hungarian troupe. Visit the Opera website to learn more. Tickets to the performances are available on this website.

Photo: Hungarian State Opera

During a sneak-peek into a rehearsal of the act, Marcell Bakonyi appearing as Porgy in the piece said that he has always been dreaming about playing the opera’s iconic street beggar. Actress Orsolya Sáfár in the role of Bess added that “it feels good to perform this fantastic and engrossing music”.

The performance runs on four evenings: January 27th and 28th, and then on February 1st and 8th.

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