27 December 2018
KEY WEST, Florida Keys — An American operatic classic and fine orchestral musicianship are to combine for Florida Keys audiences in the South Florida Symphony’s staging of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.”
The masterful offering is to open at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Key West’s Tennessee Williams Theatre, 5901 College Road on the campus of Florida Keys Community College.
An anticipated highlight of the symphony’s 2019 season, the production is to feature a cast of leading African-American vocalists including Neil Nelson as Porgy and Brandie Sutton as Bess.
Nationally recognized conductor Sebrina Maria Alfonso leads the 70-piece symphony, which is composed of eminent professional musicians from around the United States. Now in its 21st season, the symphony presents enriching musical experiences to audiences throughout South Florida.
Widely considered the 20th century’s most significant American opera, “Porgy and Bess” was written by composer George Gershwin, with a libretto by author DuBose Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin, and debuted in 1935. The production with the symphony is guided by veteran Broadway producer/director Richard Jay-Alexander, with sets created by international scenic designer Paul Tate dePoo.
The gritty and emotional story of Porgy, Bess and the inhabitants of Catfish Row is acclaimed as a one-of-a-kind cultural work that offers lasting insight into the human condition. The drama is enhanced by songs including “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”

Following “Porgy and Bess,” the symphony’s 2019 offerings in Key West include concerts Wednesday, Feb. 20, featuring pianist Natasha Paremski; Sunday, March 10, with pianist Svetlana Smolina; and Saturday, April 13, spotlighting the talents of cellist Julian Schwarz. All three are set for 7:30 p.m. at the Tennessee Williams Theatre.
Tickets for “Porgy and Bess,” as well as the symphony’s other performances, can be purchased online at southfloridasymphony.org.
Event information: southfloridasymphony.org or 954-522-8445
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
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