100 Years of Cole Porter at Yale

Jan 18, 2013

Yale University kicks off a yearlong celebration of the work of composer and lyricist Cole Porter this weekend.  Porter aficionados will be able to hear one of his most popular musicals in its original orchestration.

Kiss Me Kate is probably Cole Porter’s best known musical,  and his  most successful.

"Its so witty and sharp and fun and  kind of naughty."  Amber Edwards is producing Saturday’s concert version of the show at Yale, with a cast of students and professional alumni.

"We have as the gangsters Christopher Durang,  the playwright. And Bobby Lopez,  who is one of the co-creators of Avenue Q and Book of Mormon."

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the legendary songwriter’s graduation from Yale. 

During his prolific career, Porter wrote dozens of classics.  Kiss Me Kate features songs like Too Darn Hot and So In Love.

The singers will work with a full orchestra led by conductor David Charles Abell.  "When I conduct a Beethoven symphony or a Mozart opera, I always use an authentic score that scholars have investigated and tried to write down exactly what those composers intended.  For our American musicals, that really doesn’t exist."

So Abell searched out and eventually found the original score and parts sitting in an office and basement.  This weekend, musicians will perform from a restored version of the original orchestration,  which will also be published next year.

Abell lives and works in England. He says America’s contribution to the art of musical drama is the musical comedy  "..and I’m glad we can now afford the respect due to our art form by publishing them in authoritative editions."

Still to come in the yearlong Cole Porter celebration – a film series and gala concert. 

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.