I once got into an argument with a friend as to whether Porgy and Bess was an opera or not. My friend insisted that it was definitely not an opera because of the way it was written. He had never seen the score, never listened to any recording of it, even the partial recording then available from Columbia with Avon Long as Sportin' Life. I won the argument.
Then later I purchased the Loren Maazel recording and a copy of the piano score, and suddenly I began wondering if my friend hadn't been right after all. Porgy and Bess is more than just a run-of-the-mill opera. It's a musical drama on the scale of a Wagnerian epic, and yet it deals with the lives of common people. Gershwin had even gone to great lengths to give Dubose Heyward's very shallow book, Porgy, great depth. Heyward's two-dimensional, comic-strip Afro-Americans suddenly seemed to have souls, values, loves, needs, ambitions, all the things that make a people human and noble.
And then came the Houston Grand Opera production of which this is the recording. I actually saw the Houston Grand Opera perform this on stage in Boston, minus Clamma Dale as Bess. I am very grateful for the fact that this recording has chosen to include Ms. Dale, who is the best Bess I have ever heard singing this.
So is this an opera or something else? You'll just have to buy it and find out for yourself.