In This Episode


COMPOSER: George Gershwin

LYRICIST: Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward

BOOK: DuBose Heyward

SOURCE: Porgy by DuBose Heyward (1925) 

DIRECTOR: Rouben Mamoulian

PRINCIPLE CAST: Anne Brown (Bess), John W. Bubbles (Sportin’ Life), Todd Duncan (Porgy), 

OPENING DATE: October 10th, 1935

CLOSING DATE: January 25th, 1936


SYNOPSIS: When the murderous Crown abandons his lover Bess, a disabled beggar, Porgy, vows to protect her. When Crown vows to return and take Bess away, Porgy and Bess’s love for one another is thrown into peril. 

With a score and libretto by George and Ira Gershwin with DuBose Heyward respectively, Porgy and Bess tells the controversial love story of a disabled Black man named Porgy through the style of grand opera. The premiere production featured a troupe of classically trained Black singers and was significant for the way it fused American folk music with classical orchestrations. Key songs became standards in their day, and ‘Summertime’ maintains its popularity as a jazz cover. Davóne Tines explores the complexity of this piece, specifically how it relates to the black experience being created through a white lens. 

Davóne Tines- Heralded as a “singer of immense power and fervor” and “[one] of the most powerful voices of our time” (@latimes) “the immensely gifted American bass-baritone Davóne Tines has won acclaim, and advanced the field of classical music.” (@nytimes) this “next generation leader (Time Magazine) is a path-breaking artist at the intersection of many histories, cultures, and aesthetics, his work blends opera, spirituals, gospel, and anthems, as a means to tell a deeply personal story of perseverance and human connection.


Porgy and Bess Members of the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Decca (1940)

Porgy and Bess, starring Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier, directed by Otto Preminger. Columbia Pictures (1959)

The Strange Career of Porgy and Bess: Race, Culture, and America’s Most Famous Opera by Ellen Noonan, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press (2012)

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess: A 75th Anniversary Celebration by Robin Thompson, Amadeus (2010)

“On My Way”: The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and Porgy and Bess by Joseph Horowitz, W.W. Norton & Company (2013)

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