Opera In Porgy And Bess

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Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess, America’s first opera opened on the 10th of October in 1936. Porgy and Bess chronicles the unlikely romance between Porgy and Bess and takes place in the fictitious town of “Catfish Row” in Charleston South Carolina. The opera is based on “Porgy”, a novel written by Dubose Heyward and the play also written by Heyward and his wife Dorothy Heyward.
The story begins in “Catfish Row” a small coastal town based on the real town of Cabbage Row in Charleston, South Carolina during the 1920’s. The main protagonist of the story and leading man is Porgy, a disabled beggar man who is known for riding his goat cart around Charleston. Bess is the leading lady of the opera and is in an unhealthy relationship with Crown, a powerful, violent, alcoholic, short-tempered stevedore (dockworker). Act I starts with a lullaby being sang to a small baby by a young mother named Clara, as she sings the men of Catfish Row prepare for a crap game, prior to the game, Crown purchases whisky and Cocaine from the Sportin’ Life, the local drug dealer of the town, during the crap game, Crown who is very drunk kills a local man named Robbins, Crown flees Catfish Row and leaves Bess to fend for herself. Sportin’ Life who is attracted to Bess, he gives her cocaine and asks her to join him in New York, Bess refuses and is now alone, she has no where to go, she is rejected by all of the Catfish Row resident, all except for Porgy who takes her in. A funeral takes place for Robbins, Serena, Robbins’ wife acts very coldly towards Bess when she offers her donation to help pay for Robbins’s funeral cost until Bess explains that she is no longer with Crown, and now lives with Porgy. Soon after, a detective enters and tells Serena that if...

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...icial production of Porgy and Bess began in 1933 when Heyward and Gershwin signed a contract with The Theatre Guild. Gershwin worked on the opera in both New York and South Carolina, where he went to get a feel for the music there. George Gershwin wrote the music, Dubose Heyward wrote the libretto and also wrote the lyrics with the help of Ira Gershwin. The original production of Porgy and Bess opened on Broadway in the fall of 1935 and ran for 124 performances. Porgy and Bess was not considered a true opera until 1976, there have been several productions since it opened. The most recent Broadway production of Porgy and Bess opened on January 12th, 2012, it starred Audra McDonald as “Bess” and Norm Lewis as “Jake”. It received positive to mixed reviews, Audra was praised for her portrayal of “Bess” and even won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

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