I adore the music of George Gershwin, and feel he is our greatest American composer. With each hearing, I love Cole Porter more and more. But if I had to choose only one desert-island songwriter from the early 20th century, it would be Jerome Kern. Years ago I directed an Off-Broadway musical revue entitled In Love With Kern. I spent over a year researching Kern's life and music. It was an incredibly joyful period of discovery and inspiration. For me, Kern is the Schubert of American song writers.
So you can imagine my excitement attending Friday's performance of his masterpiece, Show Boat. I was not let down - the production was excellent! One can only marvel at the sheer number of great songs, one after another, packed into this show - "Make Believe," "Ol' Man River," "Can't Help Lovin Dat Man," "You Are Love, Bill, Why Do I Love You?," etc. Show Boat first opened in 1927, and was far ahead of it's time. It's treatment of racism, broken dreams and families, survival in an uncertain world, etc, remain deeply relevant today. Here are some production
Here's part of our mighty group, enjoying the beautiful art deco lobby of the theater during intermission:
Chicago Lyric recently named Anthony Freud as their new General Director. He was formerly GD of the Welsh National Opera and Houston Grand Opera. I served on the board of Opera America while Anthony was chairman, and asked if he might meet with us. He agreed to meet in their donor lounge during intermission, and could not have been more gracious in greeting each person in the Portland Opera tour group:
Alyson Cambridge, who sang Musetta in our 2009 production of La Boheme, sang the pivotal role of Julie in Show Boat. She greeted the group back stage afterwards. Her performance as Julie was heart breaking:
The conductor was our own John Demain, last seen on the podium of Portland Opera for Pagliacci/Carmina Burana in 2010:
John also met the group back stage, and then joined us for dinner afterwards. The group really enjoyed the opportunity to chat with John about Show Boat, and his career. What a night!!
Aida and Good Bye to a glorious city!
Saturday night we attended Aida, which was a solid production of a Verdi classic:
Seeing Rinaldo, Show Boat, and Aida on three consecutive nights was a great mix of opera styles. How vast and rich is the treasure chest of OPERA!
Here's a final photo of the group along Lake Michigan, with the fabulous Chicago skyline in the background. A great time was had by one and all!