Alicia and Everett McCorvey at a May event preceeding UK Opera Theatre's Grand Night for Singing. Alicia had just finished singing Can't Help Lovin' that Man from Porgy & Bess, which the UK Opera will present during the World Equestrian Games in September 2010. Copyrighted photo by Tom Eblen | LexGo.
"We will have all of these people coming over from Europe who hear European opera all the time," said Everett McCorvey, director of the UK Opera. "I was trying to think of a quintessential American Opera, and Porgy & Bess popped into my mind."
That shouldn't be surprising, as McCorvey has sung in more than 600 performances of Porgy & Bess and met his wife, Alicia Helm McCorvey, working on the Metropolitan Opera's production of Porgy in 1984. It's an opera that McCorvey has long wanted to present in Lexington, and the coming of the Equestrian Games in September 2010 provided the perfect catalyst.
This is the first performing arts event that has been announced for the games, though numerous groups are planning to present events during the Equestrian Games. LexArts has already announced a second edition of HorseMania that will be on exhibit during the games.
This Porgy will involve numerous other organizations. It will be a co-production with the American Spiritual Ensemble, which McCorvey directs. The group will also be performing in Lexington during the games. Porgy will utilize the chorus from Kentucky State University, the UK Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Nardolillo, and be presented elsewhere in the state before and after the games, including performances in Madisonville, Elizabethtown and Owensboro at RiverPark Center.
One or all of those centers may be involved in building the sets for the new production of the 1935 opera, which tells the story of a crippled man trying to save a woman from the clutches of her pimp and drug dealer in a Charleston, S.C., slum.
Other opera news: The UK Opera Theatre's March event, originally announced as a gala to honor retired UK voice professor and former Metropolitan Opera star Gail Robinson, has been expanded into a full-scale production to honor her: Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor March 6, 7, 13 and 14, 2009. Lucia was one of Robinson's signature roles.