Diane Paulus, Suzan Lori-Parks, and some other folks are on a mission to adapt George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess for commercial audiences on Broadway. They are adding dialogue to the opera and a more "upbeat" ending.

His lordship Stephen Sondheim is not amused:

What Ms. Paulus wants, and has ordered, are back stories for the characters. For example she (or, rather, Ms. Parks) is supplying Porgy with dialogue that will explain how he became crippled. She fails to recognize that Porgy, Bess, Crown, Sportin’ Life and the rest are archetypes and intended to be larger than life and that filling in “realistic” details is likely to reduce them to line drawings...

Then there is Ms. Paulus’s condescension toward the audience. She says, “I’m sorry, but to ask an audience these days to invest three hours in a show requires your heroine be an understandable and fully rounded character.” I don’t know what she’s sorry about, but I’m glad she can speak for all of us restless theatergoers. If she doesn’t understand Bess and feels she has to “excavate” the show, she clearly thinks it’s a ruin, so why is she doing it? I’m sorry, but could the problem be her lack of understanding, not [lyricist DuBose] Heyward’s?

It's fun to watch Sondheim sink his teeth into some fellow artists, and I agree that the idea of "updating" and "improving" Porgy and Bess sounds arrogant and foolish—but theater people are allowed to be (encouraged to be!) arrogant and foolish. If you can't be arrogant and foolish in theater, where can you be arrogant and foolish? Politics will be the only place left.

The rewrite will succeed or fail on its own merits. Either way, it can't hurt Gershwin's opera.

More importantly: if you haven't read Charles Mudede's insightful and surprisingly personal review of Porgy and Bess now playing at Seattle Opera, you should. The final two paragraphs are some of the best criticism I've read all year.