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George Gershwin - Porgy & Bess / Trevor Nunn · Sir Simon Rattle · W. White · C. Haymon · Glyndebourne Opera (1993)

Willard White , Cynthia Haymon , Trevor Nunn  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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George Gershwin - Porgy & Bess / Trevor Nunn · Sir Simon Rattle · W. White · C. Haymon · Glyndebourne Opera + Porgy and Bess (New Broadway Cast)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Willard White, Cynthia Haymon, Gregg Baker, Cynthia Clarey, Marietta Simpson
  • Directors: Trevor Nunn
  • Writers: Trevor Nunn, Dorothy Heyward, DuBose Heyward, Yves Baignères
  • Producers: Dennis Marks, Greg Smith, Jac Venza
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: German, French, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Classics
  • DVD Release Date: July 3, 2001
  • Run Time: 184 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005LIN0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,715 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "George Gershwin - Porgy & Bess / Trevor Nunn · Sir Simon Rattle · W. White · C. Haymon · Glyndebourne Opera" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Text version of the story in English, French, German, and Italian

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

This powerful production originated on the stage of the Glyndebourne Festival. It was restaged and filmed on location for the BBC telecast preserved in this video recording. Director Trevor Nunn takes full advantage of the realism, fluidity of movement, and precision of small details that are difficult to achieve when televising a staged performance but easy and natural in a movie treatment.

Nunn's vision, conveyed by an unusually talented cast, is constantly touching and rises to overwhelming intensity at climactic points. For example: the crap game and fight that end in Robbins's death, the hurricane scene, Crown's capture and abuse of Bess on Kittiwah Island, Porgy's fight with Crown, the comically sinister antics of Sportin' Life, the double-edged pathos and absurdity of the scene in which Bess gets "divorced," and the electrifying conclusion, when Porgy throws away his crutches and sets out, naively, to find Bess in New York.

Musically, Simon Rattle and all the performers find the exact style for Gershwin's marvelous score--not only such big numbers as "Summertime," "Bess, You Is My Woman Now," "I Loves You, Porgy," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Hates Your Struttin' Style," and "O Lawd, I'm on My Way," but such smaller items as the exquisite cries of the street vendors of honey, strawberries, and crabs. There are no weaknesses in the cast. Willard White and Cynthia Haymon are ideal in the title roles, Gregg Baker is a terrifying, larger-than-life Crown, and Damon Evans is a properly slimy Sportin' Life. The white police officers are splendidly repulsive. --Joe McLellan

Product Description

The Gershwins' musical masterpiece Porgy and Bess is one of America's greatest works. This production was adapted for the screen by Trevor Nunn and Yves Baigneres. It was directed by Trevor Nunn and is based on the highly successful staging of the original Glyndebourne Festival Opera production in 1986-87, which was remounted at Covent Garden in the autumn of 1992 with most of the original cast. Immediately after that performance the production was moved to the giant stage at Shepperton Studios, with much expanded sets and lighting. It was then recorded using EMI's original award-winning soundtrack.

First performed in 1935 and based on the play Porgy by DuBose and Dorothy K. Heyward, Porgy and Bess has achieved worldwide renown through such memorable songs as "Summertime," "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'," "Oh Lawd, I'm on My Way," and many more, set to Gershwin's moving symphonic score. 184 minutes.

Porgy: Willard White
Bess: Cynthia Haymon
Crown: Gregg Baker
Serena: Cynthia Clarey
Maria: Mariette Simpson
Sporting Life: Damon Evans
Clara: Paula Ingram (sung by Harolyn Blackwell)
Jake: Gordon Hawkins (sung by Bruce Hubbard)
Mingo: Barrington Coleman
Robbins: D. Alonzo Washington (sung by Johnny Worthy)


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
219 of 221 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Movie of Gershwin's Opera June 29, 2003
You must disregard many of the earlier customer reviews of this DVD; apparently a lot of people thought they were going to be seeing a straight movie, or a Hollywoodization of the opera made in the 1950s. This, kind readers, is the REAL opera as its creators [George Gershwin and his brother, Ira] intended it and the Glyndebourne Opera production is beautifully opened up, as they say, for the movie camera by the eminent British director, Trevor Nunn. It's all under the direction of that nonpareil British conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, who has since moved on to the plum job of the conductorial world as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic.
The cast is superb. Willard White owns the role of Porgy and his acting is superb as the cripple whose heart is broken. Cynthia Haymon sounds wonderful and looks terrific as Bess. Gregg Baker not only has the huge, sonorous bass that Crown requires, but he looks the part better than anyone I've ever seen in this opera-- and I've seen at least five productions, going back to Leontyne Price and William Warfield at the old New York City Opera. Damon Evans is a suitably oily Sportin' Life. Marietta Simpson, the eminent Mahlerian contralto, sings an absolutely riveting (and hilarious) Maria. Serena, Jake's widow, is ably taken by Cynthia Carey. Some of the 'minor' roles are portrayed by an actor while the singing is done by a trained singer; there is absolutely no problem with the lip-synching--indeed I didn't know until I saw the credits. Clara, the character who sings 'Summertime,' is acted by a beautiful young woman named Paula Ingram, and sung by the delectable Harolyn Blackwell. The ill-fated Jake is acted by Gordon Hawkins, and sung by the talented Bruce Hubbard.
Visually the production is as detailed and realistic as any I've seen.
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55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE FINEST February 17, 2002
George and Ira Gershwin wrote, in my opinion, the finest American opera of the last century. It is supremely melodic, intensely dramatic, provides at least eight first-rate roles for performers and (having seen the opera at least four other times in other productions) experiencing it, in this gorgeous Trevor Nunn production, is a treat I did not ever expect to see.
First, the cast: Every single person in the huge company can sing and act. But special mention must go to Willard White (Porgy)-- a proud, strong, handsome man who projects his love and spirituality and his life as an outsider in his actions and wonderful baritone voice. Cynthia Haymon, is a gorgeous Bess. Her first scenes as Crown's drunk, addicted, whore/lover are performed beautifully--then her 'redemption' as Porgy's lover is wonderful to see and hear. Her lovely, strong soprano voice, her movements, her acting all change before our eyes. Gregg Baker is the perfect Crown. Not only is he a commanding singer, he is a commanding presence: big, powerfully built and extremely handsome. It is quite obvious how he could be both sexually exciting and absolutely frightening to Bess and all the other characters. Damon Evans is superb as Sporting Life the one character who depends more on acting than classical singing. This is not to say that Evans cannot sing. He does wonderfully with his two numbers which are, granted, more musical comedy-inspired than opera-inspired. And his acting could not possibly be bettered.
The production by theatre-director Trevor Nunn ("Les Miserables," among countless others) is thoughtful and true to the creators' intentions. With his designers he has built a "Catfish Row" that is filled with heat, intensity, comedy, drama and, ultimately, tragedy.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is madness. July 14, 2001
By act3
Verified Purchase
Porgy and Bess is an American Treasue. An opera written by George Gershwin, a brilliant composer of Popular Music in the 1930's. A landmark piece, much like his Rhapsody in Blue. There is an amazing book detailing the 1950's tour of the opera through Russia by Truman Capote. The movie that everybody seems to be so keen on is merely one, not-so-popular interpretation of this opera. Of course it would be nice to have that available as well, but the Preminger movie is not the ultimate interpretation of this work! His Carmen Jones may be the only version we will have in America in our lifetime since the brilliant British production didn't make it to our shores - but Porgy and Bess is being produced more and more, and I say, God Bless It! P&B is moving into the same arena where Tosca lives, and La Boheme and La Traviata. It is not a movie. What we have here is a fairly dazzling production of a classic work by some extremely talented artists who are giving us yet another intepretation of a brilliant American work of art. Porgy and Bess will go on for centuries, outliving not only all of us, but the Preminger movie as well. The work is a living and breathing work of art. It, like Hamlet, should be re-interpreted for every generation, not frozen in time like the 1950s movie. Get over it! Watch this production. Watch the next production. Grow with the new interpretations of this classic. And remember, Porgy and Bess existed and was a classic long before the movie was ever thought of.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning -- times 3, musically, visually, dramatically August 14, 2004
This is an exceptionally powerful opera presentation. Visually and dramatically it is riveting. Musically it is mesmerizing. I can't say enough about it and unfortunately my words fail me, but I was so moved I had to put something down here to alert potential buyers to please do buy it and treasure it.

The human truths told in this story are deep wide (not for the squeamish) and clearly relevant and recognizable for our world today. Musically it is irresistable with its rich and lilting melodies and "fascinatin' rhythms".

The cast is excellent in every way. Their voices are powerful and beautiful and they project their characters with honesty and craft. The direction and photography puts you in the story powerfully and unforgetably. This is a WOW performance of a constantly delicious score.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
It's ok
Published 14 days ago by carla gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great
Published 1 month ago by George King
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor sound quality.
Very poor sound quality. Too bad because this is a wonderful production. Too bad this is not on blu ray with surround sound.
Published 1 month ago by J. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
GREAT
Published 1 month ago by D. S. Poteet
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie and experienc
Seller got the product here in 4 days and the disc was in perfect condition, although loose in the case. 1 sheet of toilet paper seems to stop disc from coming off cradle better. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kim J. Love
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I had hoped for
The sound quality on this DVD is not really up to par. I had hoped for better. I think I'll try a different version. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Warren F. Kitzmiller
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb in Every Way
This production would be hard to surpass in excellence. The singing is heavenly. Rattle does great credit to Gershwin's immortal music. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Peter Prothero
5.0 out of 5 stars IT IS NECESSARILY SO
I have heard it so many times and play it on the piano."Bess,you is my woman" eludes me.Not recognized as a masterpiece in 1935!
Published 6 months ago by rh
2.0 out of 5 stars Live stage show that missed
I was so excited about this DVD when I ordered it. It fit in my collection of live on-stage productions. But when I got it, I was bored. In fact, I never even finished it. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Jon McCauley Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent quality for the money
Great music, and the first time we had seen the complete story. We bought it for our granddaughter, who loves musicals, but we sneaked a peak beforehand. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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