Overture Magazine - 2015-2016 Season March-April 2016 - Page 11

to have the orchestra be in a starring role with the piece and the performers is inspiring. Porgy is a uniquely American story. How to you relate to it as a non-American? One of the very interesting things about being European is that one grew up being almost bombarded — bombarded is too strong a word — by American culture. Certainly, the African-American experience aligned with the black British story, the Caribbean story, the African story. We saw ourselves more through the lens of the American experience than we did with any other. I don’t feel like a foreigner at all as I delve into Porgy’s themes. It feels very specific to a culture I’ve been reared in all of my life. It would be different for me if I were, say, working in China. I have not been reared on the cultural product of China. Many of us feel that we are an extended member of the family, if not one that sits around the immediate dinner table. Porgy and Bess has not always been praised as a flattering depiction of African-Americans. How do you feel about that? That’s a very good question. In the world we live in now, there is such diversity of storytelling from the African-American perspective — from Barack Obama to Scandal on television to plays by Dominique Morisseau and Katori Hall. Today, Porgy doesn’t live as the only depiction of the African-American community. Therein lies its freedom and its truth. An interpreter can see the truth when Porgy says, “Bess, you is my woman now.” One can access the story of deep love and of societal manipulation. It’s a historical document as well as an investigation into love. It sounds like you might not be behind taking down statues of Confederate war heroes and renami