Photo by The Pirates of Penzance, 2017. Photo by Cory Weaver.

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

The song says the livin’ is easy. It ain’t necessarily so.


November 7, 2020 | 7:30 PM
November 11, 2020 | 7:30 PM
November 13, 2020 | 7:30 PM
November 15, 2020 | 2:00 PM

At the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

Tickets on sale July 13, 2020. Season tickets available now.


Approximate running time is 3 hours with one intermission.

The Story

Hailed as the first American opera, Porgy and Bess has courted critical acclaim and cultural controversy (both deserved) since its premiere. In this tragic love story featuring some of the most beautiful and beloved songs ever written, a wealth of musical purity pours out of a community plagued by poverty and addiction. For Porgy, a man with “plenty o’ nuttin’,” protecting the woman he loves is everything. But can he truly be her knight in shining armor? Or will they be swallowed by storms both literal and figurative, so that their story ends with each back where they started? With echoes of our past as culturally contentious as its songs are universally cherished, Porgy and Bess continues to spark discussions that are as passionate and relevant today as they have ever been.

Understand Every Word

 Porgy and Bess will be sung in English, with English subtitles.

Pre-Opera Talk

Arrive early to enjoy a FREE Pre-Opera Talk before each Lyric Opera performance at the Kauffman Center, sponsored by the Lyric Opera Guild.

Pre-opera talks start one hour before curtain and last about 30 minutes.


Photos of the show

  • Porgy and Bess. Photo by Karli Cadel for The Glimmerglass Festival
    Porgy and Bess. Photo by Karli Cadel for The Glimmerglass Festival

Principal Cast

Eric Greene HeadshotPorgy – Eric Greene *
Greene’s current and future engagements include Escamillo in Carmen at Liceu Barcelona, Richard Nixon in Nixon in China at Scottish Opera, Jack Rance in La fanciulla del West with Opera North, Porgy in Porgy and Bess at Theater an der Wien and English National Opera; he debuts as Bank-Account Billy in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 2021. Other engagements include Oberon in Der Park at Malmö Opera, Trinity Moses in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at Salzburger Landestheater, Henry Davis in Street Scene at Teatro Real and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Bess – Talise Trevigne *Talise Trevigne Headshot
Talise Trevigne began the 2019-20 season in a return appearance with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for A Child of our Time in performances in the U.K. and Germany. Returning to the U.S., she makes her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut as Kitty Hart in Dead Man Walking before traveling to Albany Symphony to sing Knoxville: Summer of 1915. She has joined The Metropolitan Opera cast of Porgy and Bess, and later in the season returns to the role of Mimì in La Boheme at Fort Worth Opera.

Crown – Donovan Singletary * Donovan Singletary Headshot
Donovan Singletary returns to The Metropolitan Opera in 2019-20 as Jake in Porgy and Bess. Additional engagements include Crown in Atlanta Opera’s Porgy and Bess and Colline in Fort Worth Opera’s La bohème. Highlights of Singletary’s career to date include a debut with Teatro alla Scala as Jake in Porgy and Bess, the title role of Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro with Minnesota Opera, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera, Achilla in Giulio Cesare with Fort Worth Opera and Zuniga in Carmen with Seattle Opera. Singletary is the youngest male competitor to win the Metropolitan Opera National Council Grand Finals.

Sporting Life – Jermaine Smith *Jermaine Smith Headshot
Smith has performed the role of Sportin’ Life around the world, including appearances at Sydney Opera House, Glimmerglass Festival, Opera-Comique Paris, Los Angeles Opera, Teatro San Carlo, Seattle Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cape Town Opera, Washington National Opera, and Tanglewood Music Festival, among many others. His engagements also include the title role in Joshua’s Boots at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Henry Davis in Street Scene and Zodzetrick in Treemonisha, also with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has made numerous appearances with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Smith is an alumnus of the New England Conservatory of Music and University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Serena – Indra Thomas *Indra Thomas Headshot
In the summer of 2019, Ms. Thomas sang Serena in Porgy and Bess with Cincinnati Opera, a role she reprises with Atlanta Opera in Spring 2020 and has sung at Spoleto Festival USA. Previous seasons include performances as Liù in Turandot at The Metropolitan Opera, Leonora in Il trovatore with Arizona Opera, Elisabeth in Don Carlos with Minnesota Opera, and Amelia in Un ballo in maschera with Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She sang Bess in the Porgy and Bess Suite with New York Philharmonic, which was televised on Live from Lincoln Center and nominated for an Emmy Award.

* Lyric Opera Debut
+ LOKC Resident Artist
~ LOKC Apprentice Artist
@ Former LOKC Resident Artist

Creative Team

Conductor David Charles Abell
Director Francesca Zambello
Associate Director Garnett Bruce
Assistant Director Joshua Horowitz
Set Designer Peter J. Davison
Costume Designer Paul Tazewell
Lighting Designer Mark McCullough
Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel
Chorus Master
 Piotr Wisniewski

* Lyric Opera Debut

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