[slideshow-1]If there’s a signature performance that’s promised to elevate this year’s Spoleto Festival USA, it’s the Gershwin-Heyward opera Porgy and Bess. Not only is the story based in Charleston, it’s only one of a handful of times the sometimes-controversial work has been performed in the city.

Here’s how Chris Haire looked at the opera, adapted from a Dubose Heyward novel, in this week’s preview:

It’s not so much that the two works, plus a stage play of the same name, say something specifically about the Holy City, rather it’s the events surrounding Heyward and Gershwin’s works that speak to us about the issue of race in our fair hometown.

We got an early look at part of the production yesterday during the cast’s first dress rehearsal at the Gaillard Center, and we wanted to share a little of what we saw with you. If you’re one of the lucky few who got tickets, you’ll get to see the show soon enough, but the rest of us will have to make-do with one of the two public simulcasts next week in addition to these sneak peeks.