Chapter

The First Production of <i>Porgy and Bess</i>

Howard Pollack

in George Gershwin

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780520248649
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933149 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520248649.003.0032
The First Production of Porgy and Bess

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Porgy and Bess opened at the Alvin Theatre on October 10, 1935. The house erupted into thunderous applause at various times throughout the evening. By the end, many spectators were moved to tears, and the audience called back the cast, along with Gershwin and Smallens, for about seven curtain calls. The evening—the most glorious in Gershwin's career—ended with a reception for more than four hundred people at the penthouse apartment of publisher Conde Nast. The most contentious aspect of the work concerned the score's recitatives. Although most reviews opined that the folk opera enriched a widely admired play about a black southern community, few actually commented on its relation to African American life. Gershwin was awarded the David Bispham Memorial Medal for Porgy and Bess in 1937.

Keywords: folk opera; George Gershwin; Alvin Theatre; Conde Nast; black southern community; David Bispham; Memorial Medal; African American life

Chapter.  7550 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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