George Gershwin’s renowned opera Porgy and Bess returned to The Metropolitan Opera for the first time in thirty years on 23 September. Eric Owens stars as the Porgy in James Robinson’s production alongside co-lead Angel Blue as Bess and mezzo-soprano, Denyce Graves as Maria. Critics have praised this production of Porgy and Bess in the past saying “If you’re going to stage Gershwin’s opera, this is how” (The Guardian).
After the show’s opening night, Owens, Graves and the rest of the cast have received high praise from critics.
See what the critics have to say about Owens:
David Salazar from Operawire writes “Owens’ voice was at its best, soaring in the upper range with a purity that had not been heard throughout the night. It was the textbook example of a singer growing throughout a performance to deliver his very best at the apex of the show.
“Better still was the duet “Bess, You is my woman now,” where Owens’ voice really came into its own, the tone tender and delicate with glorious legato singing; he melded perfectly with Angel Blue’s similarly wholesome timbre.”
The New York Times’ Anthony Tommasini says “As Porgy, the magnificent bass-baritone Eric Owens gives one of the finest performances of his distinguished career.
“Some songs that smack of Broadway can seem out of place in the score. But in this production, they were high points. Mr. Owens sang “I’ve Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’” with a touch of glee, but also genuine contentment. He’s got his gal, the sun, the stars, his life. What else does he need? He may have seemed a little deluded as he sang “I’m On my Way” in the final scene — vowing to reclaim Bess, who has been lured by Sportin’ Life to New York. But as sung by Mr. Owens, you believed him.”
On Owns chemistry with the rest of the cast, George Grella of New York Classical Review writes “Owens and Blue delivered affecting performances. The bass-baritone shook off some early leather in his voice and sang with expressive warmth. Surrounded by so many powerful voices, he sounded gentle and carved out space for himself with his phrasing, which was musical in the extreme.”
The Vulture’s Justin Davidson adds “And at the heart of the show are Owens and the soprano Angel Blue, who made the title characters’ love utterly believable, never something to be taken for granted in opera. Owens sings with urgent reticence, letting his big voice roll through the lines like deep waves.
“Bass-baritone Eric Owens lends hard-earned Wagnerian majesty to the title role.”
Graves also received acclamation from the critics in her supporting role as Maria:
The New York Times’ writes “Every singer in the cast was outstanding. It was wonderful to see the veteran mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves as Maria, the tough-talking matriarch of Catfish Row.”
David Salazar from Operawire writes “There can be no denying her fierce stage presence and the way that she dominates a scene with a simple shift of expression. This was best exemplified in her confrontation with Sportin’ Life, “I hates yo’ struttin’ style.” The passage, delivered in a parlando style that allowed Graves to added greater accentuation on her consonants, saw the mezzo overpower Sportin’ Life with simple intimidation.”
Graves will sing as Maria in all performances this season with Owens performing on the following dates:
- September 27
- September 30
- October 5
- October 10
- October 13
- October 16
- January 15
- January 18
- January 24
- January 28
- February 1