We began working on this week’s piece two weeks ago – before George Floyd was brutally murdered by a police officer in the US and, while we try to stay apolitical, these events can not and should not be ignored.
We believe that racism in any form is unacceptable and, although we will never really experience the systemic discrimination that minorities face every day, we can be thoughtful of how our actions contribute and try to make that contribution positive.
We thought hard about performing Gershwin’s Summertime – an opera about black men and women written by white people but decided to go ahead with the following caveat.
Porgy and Bess has been called the first great American opera, set in a black American community and performed by black artists. The themes expressed in the opera are human themes. Indeed Gershwin’s aim was to create a unique folk opera to be performed only by black actors and Ira Gershwin, George’s brother and collaborative lyricist, made it a stipulation of all productions around the world that the cast is always overwhelmingly black. In doing this, it allowed opera to move away from an art form overwhelmingly white.
Summertime, from the opera, is doubtless one of the one most popular songs in the Great American Songbook and, we hope you will enjoy it and understand that in our hearts it is our offering of a positive contribution.