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The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: A Folk Opera on Broadway

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The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: A Folk Opera on Broadway

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, February 1, 2024 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2300
This online program is presented on Zoom.
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Porgy and Bess, original Theater Guild production, 1935

Porgy and Bess opened at the Alvin Theatre in New York City on October 10, 1935, running for 124 performances before the production ended in financial ruin. Billed as an “American folk opera,” George Gershwin, his brother Ira, and the author and co-librettist DuBose Heyward crafted an intense musical drama that ultimately spawned a furious debate about musical style and form, authenticity, race, discrimination, prejudice, and national identity. The music and lyrics, however, have survived the almost 90 years of controversy, assuming a stature unsurpassed in the American operatic repertoire.

Explore this pivotal work from its beginnings to its revivals in a lively evening led by Gershwin scholar and pianist Robert Wyatt. The program is highlighted by an examination of intimate correspondence between Gershwin and Heyward, archival recordings, the composer’s film footage of a rehearsal, newspaper reviews and photographs, and Wyatt’s 1989 interviews with the artists who first portrayed the title characters, Anne Brown and Todd Duncan, and songwriter Kay Swift, who was the nearest to being a true love in George Gershwin’s life.

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