REVIEW ROUND-UP: Porgy & Bess at the English National Opera

In Features, London theatre, Musicals, Native, Opinion, Quotes, Reviews, Ticket recommendations by Emma ClarendonLeave a Comment

Gershwin’s opera is being staged at the ENO in a production directed by James Robertson and conducted by John Wilson. Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews…

The Guardian★★★★ James Robinson’s staging is timeless, in the sense that it could have been created at any point in the last 40-odd years, give or take the digital rain effects on the drop curtain.”

The Times: ★★★★ “By far the biggest thrills in this new English National Opera production are when the specially recruited chorus hurl out these gloriously sonorous affirmations of Christian faith. It’s like the best gospel choir you’ve ever heard.”

The Stage: ★★★★ “John Wilson, making his ENO debut, takes the piece at a lingering pace. It’s languid like a hot summer day, and sometimes that’s to its advantage. Sometimes it feeds the atmosphere and environment and the music perfectly. At other times it’s just too slow.”

The Telegraph: ”A lavish co-production with the all-black cast that its creators stipulated. It pleases the eye and delivers knock-out choruses, sassy orchestral playing under conductor John Wilson, and heart-warming renditions of the big melodies such as “Summertime. So a hit is pretty well guaranteed.”

Bachtrack: ★★★★ “ENO’s first ever production of Porgy & Bess – it’s wonderful to see them do it, if shameful that it’s taken this long – unites James Robinson’s watchable, credible staging with consistently excellent acting and mostly excellent singing. But it’s Gershwin’s music that wins out, played quite brilliantly by John Wilson and the ENO Orchestra.”

The Independent: ★★★★ “Playing under John Wilson’s direction, the orchestra valiantly honours Gershwin’s ambition to combine the drama and romance of Carmen with the beauty of Die Meistersinger. That may have been a trifle over-hopeful on his part, but with its masterly dovetailing of voices and instruments, this show does him proud.”

London Theatre.co.uk: ★★★★★ “From the plaintive, heartbreaking rendition of ‘Summertime’ with which ENO Harewood artist Nadime Benjamin opens the show as Clara, to the stunning and heartbreaking title performances of Eric Greene and Nicole Cabell, it is performed with alternating notes of tenderness and fury. There are also notable performances from Nmon Ford as Bess’ original lover Crown, and Frederick Ballentine as her drug dealer Sporting Life.”

Trendfem.com: ★★★★★ “This is the hottest show to see in London right now. Catch it before it becomes a sold-out production.”

JohnnyFox.co.uk: ★★★★ “It’s easy to forget that the themes of Porgy & Bess are both mystical and religious and it’s here that James Robinson‘s full-scale nothing-left-out grand opera production really excels – from the Southern Baptist prayer meetings and funeral to Porgy’s conviction when he finally pursues Bess to New York that he is headed for the Promised Land – the thread is consistently woven, and the magnificent swell and ebb of the choral numbers is pure Gospel singing.”

Porgy and Bess continues at the ENO until the 17 November 2018.

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Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.
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Emma Clarendon on FacebookEmma Clarendon on InstagramEmma Clarendon on Twitter
Emma Clarendon
Emma Clarendon studied drama through A-Level before deciding she was much better suited to writing about theatre than appearing onstage. She’s written for a number of online publications ever since, including The News Hub and Art Info. Emma set up her own blog, Love London Love Culture, in April 2015 and tweets at LoveLDNLoveCul.