The Kibbutz Orchestra
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, performed by the Kibbutz Orchestra in a truncated concert version, picked the raisins out of the cake.
It was a 45-minute selection of the work's hits, but very much out of context. The time thus gained was used, not very profitably, for a rather insignificant musical suite by MacDowell, an American epigone of the European Romantics, and also for some gospel songs. These were presented by the Rimon Music School's Vocal Jazz Ensemble, with voices totally distorted by a superfluous electronic amplification system. If this is the kind of voice culture that this school teaches its students, one may stop wondering about the mediocrity of some local choirs.
The evening's star was Leonard Rowes, in all the male roles. His somewhat high-pitched baritone was suitable for the role of Sporting Life more than that of Porgy and the (omitted) Crown, who require a lower, more dark-timbred voice. Alison Buchanan took care of all the female roles. Her bright soprano suffered from a too noticeable wobble, and there was not much of a difference between the various characters.
While the choir, now mercifully without electronics, sang well, the work's spirit was conveyed most convincingly by the orchestra, conducted by Yaron Gottfried. It played with commitment and vivacity, and a well-polished wind intrument section.