Chapter

Porgy and Bess: Broadway Opera

Geoffrey Block

in Enchanted Evenings

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195167306
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849840 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167306.003.0004
Porgy and Bess: Broadway Opera

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Porgy and Bess, described by its composer George Gershwin (1898–1937) as “a serious attempt to put in operatic form a purely American theme” and “a new form, which combines opera with theatre,” began its public life in 1935 before a Broadway audience. After a disappointing initial Broadway run of 124 performances, Porgy and Bess achieved a wider audience seven years later in the most successful Broadway revival up to that time. But in contrast to the 1935 operatic form, the 1942 revival presented a Broadway opera shorn of its operatic accoutrements, i.e., without recitatives (sung dialogue). Although some spoken dialogue replaced Gershwin's recitative, in the 1950s Porgy and Bess regained more of its operatic form as it toured opera houses all over the world.

Keywords: George Gershwin; Broadway; opera; musical theater; operatic form

Chapter.  9732 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music

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