Willard White, Cynthia Haymon etc; Glyndebourne Chorus, LPO/Simon Rattle (1988) EMI 234 4302
Glyndebourne’s production of Porgy and Bess in 1986 confirmed the work’s status not merely as Gershwin’s masterpiece, but as one of the great operas. Two years later, EMI revived the production, turning Abbey Road into Catfish Row.
The resulting discs recreate the heady, hard-hitting atmosphere, with not a weak moment of playing or singing thanks to an ideal blend of careful preparation and spontaneity.
Simon Rattle paces events perfectly, and every character is entirely convincing vocally and dramatically – and don’t even try to resist the tears as Willard White’s ever-hopeful Porgy heads on his way at the end.