Robin’s adventure in Europe 2018 travel blog

Champagne at tea time

The London Coliseum PORGY AND BESS.... 1. Looking left

The London Colisseum: 2. PORGY & BESS: looking back

The London Colisseum: 3. PORGY & BESS: looking right

The London Colisseum: 4. PORGY & BESS: ceiling

The London Colisseum: 5. PORGY & BESS: gargoyles

The London Colisseum: 6. PORGY & BESS: gargoyles


After breakfast we went up to Burlington Arcade just one more time. Those windows, those jewels — what can I say. Heaven and fascinatingly beautiful. After strolling thru the arcade, we walked down Piccadilly. As we were coming back to the hotel, Marina blurted out:

“Oh,this is St. James Place. My grandmother was born at home here, at #29!” We just had to take a look. The marble cascade was still there, but #29 St. James Place is now a very up market pharmacy. As it was getting late, we headed back to the hotel, and met in the tea room for a glass of bubbly, before getting dressed for the theatre. (pic)

Tonight we are seeing another Gershwin revival: PORGY AND BESS.

Gershwin read Porgy in 1926 and proposed to Heyward to collaborate on an operatic version. In 1934, Gershwin and Heyward began work on the project by visiting the author's native Charleston, South Carolina. In a 1935 New York Times article, Gershwin explained why he called Porgy and Bess a folk opera:

Porgy and Bess is a folk tale. Its people naturally would sing folk music. When I first began work in the music I decided against the use of original folk material because I wanted the music to be all of one piece. Therefore I wrote my own spirituals and folksongs. But they are still folk music – and therefore, being in operatic form, Porgy and Bess becomes a folk opera.[2]

The libretto of Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston. It deals with his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin' Life, her drug dealer. The opera plot generally follows the stage play.

In the years following Gershwin's death, Porgy and Bess was adapted for smaller scale performances. It was adapted as a film in 1959. Some of the songs in the opera, such as "Summertime", became popular and frequently recorded songs.

As we were waiting for the show to begin, I found the decor of the theatre wonderful. (pic)

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The opera was L O N G........ 3-3/4 hours. I am not an opera fan, and found the first half incrediably long and somewhat boring. The vocals were hard to understand. Thank goodness for the running constantly reader-board about the stage that was putting the entire opera script so we could read what was being sung. Wanted to leave at the half, but we stuck it out — glad we did. The second half was much better than the first. It was a sad story with a horrible ending.

The opera being that long, and the location of the theatre, on St. Martin’s lane (which has 20+ theatres all crammed into narrow little one way streets), we had to cancel our last dinner at St. Moritz because they would be closed by the time we could have gotten there. We did not get back to the hotel til well after midnight.

Our dinner was provided by room service one more time, as we entertained ourselves with yet another James Bond movie. This time we stayed awake for the entire movie, before falling asleep.

Nite, nite.

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