Mounting Porgy and Bess without our chorus – the true heart of the Catfish Row community.
Just weeks ago, the New Orleans Opera was thrilled to present a 90-minute abridged version of Porgy and Bess at the Newman Bandstand in Audubon Park as our 2020-21 season closer. This American classic by George and Ira Gershwin was the only scheduled work this year to enjoy a live performance with live orchestra in front of a live audience! And yet COVID-19 restrictions meant mounting the opera without our chorus – the true heart of the Catfish Row community.
We thought of our own New Orleans community so heavily impacted by COVID-19 and decided to lift these voices up in memory of those in our community that we lost.
Partnering with the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO), the opera company has found a way to offer a paid musical opportunity to 24 singers who would have been hired as the core ensemble for Porgy and Bess. They instead have joined their voices for the Lacrimosa movement from Mozart’s Requiem, accompanied by the LPO under the baton of Maestro Robert Lyall. The performance, recorded at the Esplanade Studios, will serve as the soundtrack for a filmed tribute by Crista Rock to New Orleanians lost to COVID-19.
The vocal ensemble, prepared by Chorus Master Carol Rausch, consists of current and former members of the New Orleans Opera Chorus, guest soloists, students and alumni of Loyola University, students and alumni of Xavier University, faculty members from these institutions and Nicholls State University, and members of OperaCréole. Founded by Givonna Joseph and Aria Mason after the 2010 production of Porgy and Bess and recognizing the need to spotlight the amazing pool of Black classical vocalists in the city, OperaCréole researches and performs lost or rarely performed works by composers of African descent.
New Orleans Opera
Carol Rausch, Chorus Master
Joel C. Dyson
Valerie Jones Francis
Vickie R. Thomas
Taylor J. White
Aria M. Mason
Shirley A. Stewart
Tyrone Chambers, II
Antonio Domino, Jr.
Kentro Mason, Jr.
LaRon Austin, Jr.
Ivan J. Griffin
Micah D. Turner
Dr. John E. Ware
Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra
Robert Lyall, Conductor
Carlos Miguel Prieto
Special thanks to the production teams!
Esplanade Studios: Misha Kachkachishvili, Jesse Snider, Daniel Perez, Varavara Degtiarenko, Jeromy Thomas.
Crista Rock Productions: Crista Rock and Angelo Imbraguglio.