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Laura Lucas 
Marketing Manager


The Gershwins' 20th Century Masterpiece Features Staples of the Great American Songbook

ATLANTA – February 12, 2020 – The Atlanta Opera continues its 2019-20 Mainstage season with Porgy and Bess, the Gershwins’ Depression-era masterpiece that is often considered one of the most important operas of the 20th century. 

Based upon DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel and play Porgy, the opera follows the residents of Catfish Row through their lives of love and loss. Featuring iconic songs like “Summertime,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin,” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So” – all staples of the Great American Songbook – this tragic story centers on the disabled beggar Porgy and his efforts to save the troubled Bess from a life of addiction and ruin. 

The Atlanta Opera presents Porgy and Bess on March 7, 8, 10, 13 and 15 at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Tickets start at $45 and can be purchased at or by calling 404-881-8885. The opera will be performed in English with English supertitles. 

Porgy and Bess is a vital American work of art,” said Tomer Zvulun, Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General and Artistic Director at The Atlanta Opera. “Drawing on jazz, blues, folk and classical, George Gershwin delivered an opera that shares the passion and joy, the heartbreak and loss – in short, the humanity – of life in a tightly woven community.” 

Porgy and Bess will be presented under the baton of conductor David Charles Abell. Born in North Carolina, Abell studied with Leonard Bernstein and Nadia Boulanger, gaining degrees from Yale University and the Juilliard School. Intensive study of viola, piano and composition gave way to a concentration on conducting from the age of fourteen. David’s recent projects have included West Side Story at The Glimmerglass Festival, Rigoletto and Carmen for Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Porgy and Bess and Die Fledermaus at Cincinnati Opera. 

Originally directed by Francesca Zambello, this acclaimed revival of Porgy and Bess will be staged in Atlanta by director Garnett Bruce. Ms. Zambello has been the General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival since 2010, and the Artistic Director of Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center since 2012. In her current roles at the Kennedy Center and The Glimmerglass Festival she is responsible for producing 12 productions annually.

Atlanta native Morris Robinson will sing the role of Porgy on March 7, 8 and 10, a role he debuted at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala in 2016. Hailed for his “firm, opulent tone,” (The Classical Review) Morris Robinson is considered one the most interesting and sought-after basses performing today. He was last seen at The Atlanta Opera in Rigoletto in 2015.

South African bass-baritone Musa Ngqungwana will sing the role of Porgy on March 13 and 15. He has been praised by the New York Times for his “rich, glowing voice and elegant legato.” A veteran of Zambello’s production of Porgy and Bess, he first performed the role at Glimmerglass in 2017. This is his Atlanta Opera debut. 

Soprano Kristin Lewis will sing Bess. Along with Robinson, she made her role debut as Bess at La Scala in Milan in 2016 and will reprise the role this May for Washington National Opera. Lewis, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas and a world-famous interpreter of Verdi’s Aida, made her Metropolitan Opera debut earlier this year in that role. This is her Atlanta Opera debut. 

Tenor Jermaine Smith, a St. Louis native is closely associated with the role of Sportin’ Life. His portrayal of Sportin’ Life has graced opera stages in ten different countries, including Paris’s Opéra-Comique, the Théâtre de Caen, the Granada Festival, the Opera de Luxembourg, and the Santa Fe Symphony. This is his Atlanta Opera debut. 

Soprano Indra Thomas, another Atlanta native, will sing Serena, a role she performed at the Spoleto Festival in 2016 and reprised in Cincinnati this summer. She was last seen on the mainstage at The Atlanta Opera in Aida in 2010, flying in from New York only hours before the opening night performance after a last-minute cancellation to triumph in the title role.

This production of Porgy and Bess is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Atlanta Opera is one of 23 Georgia arts organizations recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts through the agency’s Art Works Program. The grant will also support community engagement events related to the production. For more information on projects included in the Arts Endowment grant announcement, visit    

Running time is approximately three hours, with one intermission.

Porgy and Bess

By George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, and Ira Gershwin 

Creative Team

Conductor David Charles Abell
Original Production Director Francesca Zambello
Stage Director Garnett Bruce
Scenic Designer Peter Davison
Lighting Designer Mark McCullough
Costume Designer Paul Tazewell
Original Production Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel
Associate Choreographer Eboni Adams
Fight Director Michelle Ladd Williams


Porgy  Morris Robinson (Mar 7, 8, and 10)    
Porgy Musa Ngqungwana* (Mar 13 and 15) 
Bess Kristin Lewis*
Sportin' Life Jermaine Smith*
Crown Donovan Singletary*
Jake Reginald Smith, Jr.*
Clara Jacqueline Echols*
Serena Indra Thomas
Maria La'Shelle Allen*
Robbins Larry Hylton*       

*Atlanta Opera Debut

About The Atlanta Opera

The Atlanta Opera’s mission is to build the major international opera company Atlanta deserves, with a vision to reimagine opera.

Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Opera celebrates its 40th anniversary in the 2019-20 season. The Opera works with world-renowned singers, conductors, directors, and designers who seek to enhance the art form.

Under the leadership of internationally recognized stage director and Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. General & Artistic Director Tomer Zvulun, The Atlanta Opera expanded from three to four mainstage productions at Cobb Energy Centre and launched the acclaimed Discoveries series. In recent years, the company was recognized by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as part of its “Best of 2015” awards; it was nominated for an International Opera Award in 2016; and it won ArtsATL’s 2019 Luminary Award for Community Engagement, recognizing its successful Veterans Program in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation.

In addition, The Opera was featured in a 2018 Harvard Business School case study about successful organizational growth, and Zvulun presented a TEDx Talk at Emory University entitled “The Ambidextrous Opera Company, or Opera in the Age of iPhones.”

For more information, visit

Administrative Office
The Atlanta Opera
1575 Northside Dr NW
Suite 350
Atlanta, Georgia 30318

Ticket Office
M - F 9am to 5pm 

ticket office: 404-881-8885