Generations of music fans know the seductive clarinet call and infectious piano rhythms of ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, the folk and spiritual vibes of immortal tunes like ‘Summertime’ from Porgy and Bess, and the neoclassical yet still jazzy feel of ‘An American in Paris’. The magic of George Gershwin’s varied musical legacy is so intense, it can almost be touched. The spectacle Strictly Gershwin showcases how the composer’s beloved catalogue can come alive on stage in the best traditions of Broadway. Teatro dell’Opera di Roma’s orchestra and corps de ballet stage the unique show, conceived by choreographer Derek Deane. An unforgettable performance awaits you at the majestic venue of the Baths of Caracalla.
In the span of his unfortunately short life, Gershwin made an indelible mark in music history and popular culture. His melodies were often rooted in traditional spirituals and experimental jazz, yet they always carried his signature sensibility and unwound according to rules strictly his own. The way he orchestrated his ensemble compositions borrowed heavily from classical music but, again, always carried his special touch. Listening to a Gershwin piece, one can always recognise the intricate syncopation that makes the feet tap and gets the hips swaying. The special choreography of Strictly Gershwin resurrects Hollywood’s golden age of beautiful contrasts. The jazz-like looseness is merely an impression; underneath it, a tight and calculated rhythm holds everything together.
Derek Deane captured the special quality of Gershwin’s music and put it into a variety of dance numbers that span the range between ballet and tap dance and include almost everything in between. The Rome Opera House’s ballet troupe makes the great American artist’s famous compositions corporeal and tangible. When the dancers take a beat, short theatre sequences and purely musical numbers keep the Gershwin magic going. The vitality and joy the corps de ballet exudes confirms once more that, even though he left us way too early, the great George Gershwin lives on through his music that continues to inspire new artists to present it and new audiences – to hear it, see it and experience it again and again.