Saturday, March 24, 2012 “Morgan State to stage 'Porgy and Bess': Gershwin opera features successful alumni”

[( Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun / March 23, 2012) Morgan State University is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Murphy Fine Arts Center with a production of Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess." Morgan students Walter Kennedy, left, and Dimery Mowery, right, rehease with principal singer Rodney Wing, center.]

Dr. Eric Conway of Morgan State University writes:
“Hello everyone,

Please see attached feature story covering Morgan's production of Porgy and Bess. The principal music journalist, Tim Smith, wrote an in-depth article about our production which will hopefully get the word out to the general public. If you are receiving this email, please share with as many acquaintances as you can, to support this ambitious effort by Morgan's Fine and Performing Arts Department. This Thursday, March 29, 2012 will be the first show at 9:00 AM. The opera is given at this unusual time to allow Baltimore city and county students to experience this popular opera. As tickets range from $65 to $25 for all other performances, every seat will only be $15 for this special Thursday performance. This is an attractive option for many. I hope to see you at the Carl Murphy Fine Arts Center support our production. I have once again included a flyer for quick reference.

5:13 PM EDT, March 23, 2012
It's a kind of a musical homecoming. 'Porgy and Bess,' the first and, many would say, greatest American opera, returns to Baltimore after a long absence with a large-scale production this week at Morgan State University, featuring several well-established singers who have come back to their alma mater for the occasion.

In a way, the character of Bess is coming home, too. The creator of that role, Baltimore-born soprano Anne Brown, studied at what was then Morgan College before moving to New York and sharing the spotlight at the 1935 premiere of 'Porgy and Bess.' 'This opera belongs right here on the stage at Morgan State,' says alumna Kishna Davis, who will sing the role of the sensual, easily-led-astray Bess. 'I get tears just thinking about it.'”

The Morgan venture, ambitious for any university, caps a 10th-anniversary celebration of the Murphy Fine Arts Center on campus. Performances will feature the school's famed choir, a substantial set purchased from the Opera Company of Philadelphia and 50 musicians of the Mid-Atlantic Symphony conducted by Julien Benichou.”

Bass-baritone Kevin Short, a 1984 Morgan grad, will sing the role of the crippled beggar Porgy, who falls hard for Bess. Short recently sang the hefty title role in Wagner's 'The Flying Dutchman' at the Bern Theatre in Switzerland. 'Porgy is harder,' he says. The singer credits Gershwin's work with setting him on his career path. 'This was my introduction to opera in 1983, when the Baltimore Opera Company did it for the first time, with Donnie Ray Albert as Porgy,' Short says. 'Wow. My whole life changed. I told my teacher this is what I want to do. I remember going around on my knees like Porgy for days after.'

Davis found herself similarly drawn to Bess. 'She's literally five personalities in one,' the soprano says. 'And she's dealing with so many things — the drugs, the pain, the anguish. It feels like my life sometimes,' Davis adds with a laugh.”

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