Dutch National Opera presents

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess George Gershwin, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin

This show was to been seen in January 2019

Please note: the show ends at 23:30 or 17:30

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

Duration 3:30

Breaks 1

By George Gershwin, Dubose and Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin

Language English

Surtitles Dutch and English

Everyone knows the hits from the opera and 1959 film Porgy and Bess, which include ‘Summertime’, ‘I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’’, ‘Bess, You Is My Woman Now’ and ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’. 

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess is a unique opera and a popular favourite in which George Gershwin mixed jazz with the western opera tradition and Afro-American and Russian Jewish music.

Special discounts are availalable for those of 16 and younger!

Social drama

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess stirred widespread controversy when it was first staged in 1935, playing into negative clichés surrounding poor black people living on the fringes of society. In fact, The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, even though the story is set among Afro-Americans, is mainly a social drama.

Gershwin’s infectious music in Porgy and Bess makes it equally beloved by younger audiences. Kids aged 16 and under receive a discount on tickets to this production.

George Gershwin

George Gershwin’s oeuvre bridges the gap between jazz and classical music. It was DuBose Heyward’s novel Porgy that inspired him to compose the full-length opera in 1926, with his brother Ira Gershwin writing the libretto. In 1934 George spent the summer composing in South Carolina to immerse himself in the southern atmosphere. In his own words, he wanted this opera to combine ‘the drama and romance of Carmen and the beauty of Meistersinger’.


Director James Robinson and conductor James Gaffigan both make their Dutch National Opera debut.

Vibrant recreation

Michael Yeargan’s set for The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess vibrantly recreates the sights and sounds of the poor harbour-side neighbourhood of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina, whose inhabitants are all trying to survive – by whatever means they can.



Along with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has been the regular orchestra partner of Dutch National Opera since 1985, and is internationally regarded as one of the best opera orchestras. Each season, the two orchestras perform the majority of the opera productions in Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra gives a varied programme of concerts in the Concertgebouw and also performs at other major concert halls and festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Marc Albrecht is the principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and of Dutch National Opera. In recent seasons, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has had great success with audiences and international press alike, with productions including Gurre-Lieder, Lohengrin, Der Rosenkavalier, Il Trovatore and Hänsel und Gretel. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht, received an Edison for their recording of the DNO production Der Schatzgräber, in December 2014.

Team, Cast and Chorus

James Gaffigan
Stage Director
James Robinson
Set Designer
Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer
Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer
Donald Holder
Video Designer
Luke Halls
Dianne McIntyre
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Porgy and Bess Ensemble
Dutch National opera Chorus
Chorus Master
Aldert Vermeulen
Eric Owens
Adina Aaron
Mark S. Doss
Sportin’ Life
Frederick Ballentine
Chaz’men Williams-Ali
Latonia Moore
Donovan Singletary
Janai Brugger
Tichina Vaughn
Rheinaldt Tshepo Moagi
Ronald Samm
Pumza Mxinwa
Byron Jackson
Sarah-Jane Lewis
Strawberry woman
Sarah-Jane Lewis
Njabulo Madlala
Whitaker Mills
Thando Mjandana
Crab man
Chaz’men Williams-Ali
Dyshairo Dania & Miquel Dankfort
Stephen Pallister
Christian Hurst
Neil Kelly
    Wed 14 Feb Bachtrack over Eric Owens als Porgy, 2014

    ‘About those individual voices: they all converge on Eric Owens, who sings Porgy with a fathomless voice of reinforced steel.’

Co-production with English National Opera, London and Metropolitan Opera, New York


The Gershwins’ PORGY AND BESS by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin. The worldwide copyrights in the works of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin for this presentation are licensed by the Gershwin Family.

GERSHWIN is a registered trademark of Gershwin Enterprises. Porgy and Bess is a registered trademark of Porgy and Bess Enterprises.