Act 1[ edit ] Scene 1: Catfish Row, a summer evening The opera begins with a short introduction which segues into an evening in Catfish Row. Jasbo Brown entertains the community with his piano playing. Clara, a young mother, sings a lullaby to her baby " Summertime " as the working men prepare for a game of craps "Roll them Bones". Little by little, other characters in the opera enter Catfish Row, among them Mingo, another fisherman, and Jim, a cotton-hauling stevedore who, tired of his job, decides to give it up and join Jake and the other fishermen.
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Act 1[ edit ] Scene 1: Catfish Row, a summer evening The opera begins with a short introduction which segues into an evening in Catfish Row. Jasbo Brown entertains the community with his piano playing. Clara, a young mother, sings a lullaby to her baby " Summertime " as the working men prepare for a game of craps "Roll them Bones".
Little by little, other characters in the opera enter Catfish Row, among them Mingo, another fisherman, and Jim, a cotton-hauling stevedore who, tired of his job, decides to give it up and join Jake and the other fishermen. Porgy, a disabled beggar, enters on his goat cart to organize the game.
Bess is shunned by the women of the community, especially the pious Serena and the matriarchal cookshop owner Maria, but Porgy softly defends her.
The game begins. One by one, the players get crapped out, leaving only Robbins and Crown, who has become extremely drunk. When Robbins wins, Crown attempts to prevent him from taking his winnings.
Crown runs, telling Bess to fend for herself but that he will be back for her when the heat dies down. He flees, and Bess begins to pound on doors, but is rejected by all of the residents of Catfish Row, with the exception of Porgy, who lets her in.
Bess enters with Porgy and attempts to donate to the burial fund, but Serena rejects her money until Bess explains that she is now living with Porgy. A white detective enters and coldly tells Serena that she must bury her husband the next day, or his body will be given to medical students for dissection. Peter denies his guilt and says Crown was the murderer.
The Detective orders Peter to be arrested as a material witness , whom he will force to testify against Crown. The undertaker enters. The saucer holds only fifteen dollars of the needed twenty-five, but he agrees to bury Robbins as long as Serena promises to pay him back. Bess, who has been sitting in silence slightly apart from the rest of those gathered, suddenly begins to sing a gospel song and the chorus joyfully join in, welcoming her into the community.
Clara asks Jake not to go because it is time for the annual storms, but he tells her that they desperately need the money. This causes Porgy to sing from his window about his new, happy-go-lucky outlook on life. A fraudulent lawyer, Frazier, arrives and farcically divorces Bess from Crown. When he discovers Bess and Crown were not married, he raises his price from a dollar to a dollar and a half. Archdale, a white lawyer, enters and informs Porgy that Peter will soon be released.
The bad omen of a buzzard flies over Catfish Row and Porgy demands that it leave now that he finally has found happiness.
Bess is invited to the picnic by Maria, but she demurs as Porgy cannot come due to his disability, he cannot get on the boat , but Maria insists. Bess leaves Porgy behind as they go off to the picnic. Everyone gets ready to leave. As Bess, who has lagged behind, tries to follow them, Crown emerges from the bushes. He reminds her that Porgy is "temporary" and laughs off her claims that she has been living decently now.
Bess wants to leave Crown forever and attempts to make him forget about her "Oh, what you want wid Bess? He grabs her and will not let her go to the boat, which leaves without her, and then forcefully kisses her. He laughs at his conquest as her resistance begins to fail, and commands her to get into the woods, where his intentions are only too clear.
Scene 3: Catfish Row, a week later, just before dawn A week later, Jake leaves to go fishing with his crew, one of whom observes that it looks as if a storm is coming in. Peter, still unsure of his crime, returns from prison. As the clock chimes five, Bess recovers from her fever. Porgy tells Bess that he knows she has been with Crown, and she admits that Crown has promised to return for her.
Porgy asks her what would happen if there was no Crown, and Bess tells Porgy she loves him and begs him to protect her. Porgy promises that she will never have to be afraid again " I Loves You, Porgy ". Clara watches the water, fearful for Jake. Maria tries to allay her fears, but suddenly the hurricane bell begins to ring.
Clara desperately sings her lullaby "Summertime" [reprise]. Crown enters dramatically, having swum from Kittiwah Island, seeking Bess. He shows no fear of God, claiming that after the long struggle from Kittiwah, God and he are friends. The chorus tries to drown out his blaspheming with more prayer, and he taunts them by singing a vulgar song. Bess asks that one of the men go out with her, and Crown taunts Porgy, who cannot go. Crown goes himself, yelling out as he leaves "Alright, Big Friend!
A fight ensues that ends when Porgy kills Crown. Porgy refuses to identify the body, but is dragged off anyway. He tells her that Porgy will be locked up for a long time, and points out that he is the only one still here. He offers her happy dust, and though she refuses, he forces it on her.
She regains her strength and rushes inside, slamming the door on his face, but he leaves a packet of happy dust on her doorstep, and settles down to wait. He returns to Catfish Row much richer after playing craps with his cellmates. He gives gifts to the residents, and pulls out a beautiful red dress for Bess. He does not understand why everyone seems so uneasy at his return. He asks where Bess is. Porgy calls for his goat cart, and resolves to leave Catfish Row to find her. He prays for strength, and begins his journey.
Virgil Thomson , a white American composer, stated that "Folklore subjects recounted by an outsider are only valid as long as the folk in question is unable to speak for itself, which is certainly not true of the American Negro in Ellington publicly repudiated the article shortly after its publication.
His telegram to the producer read: "Your Porgy and Bess the superbest, singing the gonest, acting the craziest, Gershwin the greatest. A planned production by the Negro Repertory Company of Seattle in the late s, part of the Federal Theatre Project , was cancelled because actors were displeased with what they viewed as a racist portrayal of aspects of African-American life.
The director initially envisioned that they would perform the play in a " Negro dialect. Florence James attempted a compromise of dropping the use of dialect but the production was canceled. According to Barbara Cyrus, one of the few black students then at the university, members of the local African-American community saw the play as "detrimental to the race" and as a vehicle that promoted racist stereotypes.
The play was cancelled due to pressure from the African-American community, which saw their success as proof of the increasing political power of blacks in Minneapolis—Saint Paul. As these movements advanced, Porgy and Bess was seen as more and more out of date. When the play was revived in the s, social critic and African-American educator Harold Cruse called it, "The most incongruous, contradictory cultural symbol ever created in the Western World.
Goldman, a white Texas native and a graduate of Yale and Oxford Universities, recalled, "I was auditioning singers all around the country, I guess thirty cities in all, from theater groups to church choirs, but was having a hard time finding directors Harry Belafonte declined to play Porgy in the late s film version, so the role went to Sidney Poitier. Betty Allen, president of The Harlem School of the Arts , admittedly loathed the piece, and Grace Bumbry , who excelled in the Metropolitan Opera production as Bess, made the often cited statement: I thought it beneath me, I felt I had worked far too hard, that we had come far too far to have to retrogress to My way of dealing with it was to see that it was really a piece of Americana , of American history, whether we liked it or not.
Whether I sing it or not, it was still going to be there. Maurice Peress stated in that "Porgy and Bess belongs as much to the black singer-actors who bring it to life as it does to the Heywards and the Gershwins. That Gershwin sought to write a true jazz opera, and that he believed that Metropolitan Opera staff singers could never master the jazz idiom, which could instead only be sung by a black cast, seems to indicate he did not intend the work to belittle African-Americans.
Gershwin wrote Porgy through an idiom of jazz that was influenced by Western European opera traditions, African-American music, and Russian-Jewish music. Ira Gershwin , as heir to his brother, consistently refused to permit these productions to be staged. Most of the cast were black South Africans; American singers involved in the production have found the "passionate identification with the opera" by the South African singers "a wake-up call". While the opera was presented in the context of the Syrian migrant crisis moved from Catfish Row to an airport , the controversy of recasting continued.
While the Hungarian State Opera, in discussions with the Tams-Witmark Music Library originally agreed to the casting requirements, it ultimately declined to do so when the wording was not included in the written contract. This production galvanized conservative commentators who lauded it as a success over "political correctness". Ultimately, Tams-Witmark required the Hungarian State Opera to include in its printed material that this production "is contrary to the requirements for the presentation of this work".
He drew inspiration from the James Island Gullah community, which he felt had preserved some African musical traditions. This research added to the authenticity of his work.
Gershwin modeled the pieces after each type of folk song which the composer knew about; jubilees, blues , praying songs, street cries, work songs, and spirituals are blended with traditional arias and recitatives.
Other motifs represent objects such as the sleazy chromatic "Happy Dust" motif or places, notably Catfish Row. Many of the through-composed passages of the score combine or develop these leitmotifs in order to reflect the on-stage action. The opera also frequently reprises its set numbers these might be considered extended Leitsektionen. The song " Summertime " is stated four times alone. The duration of the work is about minutes.
GERSHWIN HEIFETZ PORGY AND BESS PDF
The set of numbers after the dash represent the Brass. The first number stands for Violinthe second for Violathe third for Celloand the fourth for Double Bass. James MacMillan discusses his new oratorio. Explore your love for music with this essential guide to educational courses throughout the UK Following many of the titles in our Brass Ensemble catalog, you will see a set of five numbers enclosed in square brackets, as in this example:.
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