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Stay Inside and Enjoy the Music of the Deep South

Home > Everywhere > Art | Music | Musicals | Opera | Theatre
by Mistress of Culture Vultures (subscribe)
I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at www.pumptheatre.com.au
Published April 11th 2020
Dreams of a better life in Gershwin's Porgy & Bess
pandemic, online, literature, prohibition, roaring twenties, gin, opera, musicals, plays, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, America
Scene from 'Porgy & Bess' from The Metropolitan Opera New York


Since the pandemic, I have been remiss to write, as most of my reviews pertain to experiencing live music and arts events. As you may know arts and culture around the world has been brought to its knees by this pandemic. However, it is the perfect time for artists to make great work – and sometimes the best art results from the greatest pain and oppression. The paradox is that art is a great healer and we often seek it out to soothe our souls.

When in despair – I think of earlier hard times – The Great Depression in Australia and the Prohibition era. So with a tipple of gin in hand, I intuitively reach for the music and inspiration of the Deep American South, which you can enjoy online.

pandemic, online, literature, prohibition, roaring twenties, gin, opera, musicals, plays, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, America
Porgy & Bess - photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera


Porgy & Bess is a musical opera written by George and Ira Gerswhin about cotton-growing in summer, singing in the fields and impossible love. It was first performed in 1935 at the Alwin Theatre. Watch it here on YouTube – this version has Spanish subtitles. It's a pretty intense story, and a good three hours of viewing - so use the ad breaks like an intermission at the theatre - get a cup of tea or something stronger (i.e. gin in a teacup). When in prohibition…

pandemic, online, literature, prohibition, roaring twenties, gin, opera, musicals, plays, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, America
Leonardo Di Caprio in 'The Great Gatsby' film - image courtesy of the Riverfront Times


Another version available online is the 2002 Lincoln Center Production, which is two and a half hours uninterrupted viewing. For those who have less time, the Cape Town Opera Chorus presents the tops songs from Porgy & Bess in under 50 minutes thanks to the Frankfurt Radio Symphony.

pandemic, online, literature, prohibition, roaring twenties, gin, opera, musicals, plays, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, America
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - image courtesy of udiscovermusic.com


My favourite recording of Porgy & Bess is performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Listen to it here.

Now, if you are saving your shekels for when prohibition is over, then check out The Metropolitan Opera's production of Porgy & Bess. Our friends in New York are really doing it tough in this pandemic and all theatrical productions are cancelled.

pandemic, online, literature, prohibition, roaring twenties, gin, opera, musicals, plays, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, America
'Summertime' performed by Golda Shultz - image courtesy of The Metropolitan Opera


If you have the means, a trip to New York to see an opera or musical will greatly assist their local economy, or watch it in High Definition when Cinema Nova and The Sun Theatre are back open for business (i.e. fingers crossed).


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