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Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess

Story & Setting:

DuBose Heyward wrote the bestselling novel Porgy in 1925, and later adapted it for the stage with the help of his wife Dorothy in 1927. The play gained the attention of the Gershwin brothers, who were already a staple in American songwriting. With the help of Heyward, the trio worked to adapt what they called a “folk opera.” James Robinson’s production, originally staged for English National Opera in London, brings us to Catfish Row in Charleston, where Gullah residents, including the title pair, cope with storms, strife, and unexpected love.

Opera Notes:

Porgy & Bess’ standing as a favorite American opera is no surprise, as the Gershwins’ vibrant score and vivid storytelling make this an emotional journey for any audience member. However, at the time of the opera’s composition, George Gershwin’s desire to stage it with an all-black cast (and not in the blackface tradition of the time) limited the venue for a premiere performance. It premiered at the Colonial Theatre in Boston in 1935, and subsequently moved to Broadway, but was not produced by an American opera company until 1976. The piece mixes musical styles, including blues, jazz, and opera, to produce classics such as “Summertime” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” and has been performed by opera legends Leontyne Price, Grace Bumbry, and Simon Estes.

Sung in

English

Length: 

3 hours & 15 minutes

George Gershwin (1898-1937)

Watch/Listen


"Bess, you is my woman now" (Eric Owens & Angel Blue)

Met Opera (current production)


"Summertime" (Golda Schultz)

Met Opera (current production)