This essay Porgy and Bess has a total of 1961 words and 8 pages.
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess symbolizes the end of the black musical tradition that flourished in the early part of this century. The play showed the height of white appropriation of what had previously been a black cultural form. All the creative talent backstage was white. This development had been occurring slowly, throughout the 1920ís, but black artists had often worked in a variety of creative capacities.
"Porgy and Bess" became a "black musical" in its most minimal sense, only as a definition of the color of the cast members. Neither the plot nor the music was of black origin.
Musical comedies seemed to be out of fashion in the 20ís due to the dismal revivals of "Shuffle Along" and "Blackbirds". Black dramas with music, and particularly spirituals, remained in fashion. "The Green Pastures" is the best known example of this trend. As dramas about black life took on greater importance in the 1930ís, they often borrowed from the musical comedy traditions of the 1920ís. Serious drama, about black life in the rural south or in northern cities, managed to blend music into its structure. In the 20ís many of the dramas that had to do with black life, music became a necessity. In the 30ís this trend prevailed, musical elements of Afro-American culture were showcased primarily in dramas rather than in musicals.
In Hall Johnsonís "Run, Little Chillun!", a folk drama about the conflict between the Christian and African religious heritage in black life, critics praised the marvelous choral music. While Johnson called his work a drama, Time suggested that he had written an opera, something rarely achieved or even considered by black artists working on Broadway.
Although the thought of an opera with a black cast and created by black talent was a rarity, it was not unprecedented. Bob Cole had spoken about an opera based on Uncle Tomís Cabi, but the work remained uncompleted at his death. Scott Joplin had written an opera, "A guest of Honor", while living in St. Louis in 1903. The opera had several performances in Missouri, but did go beyond the stateís borders.
Joplinís second opera, "Treemonisha", composed between 1905 and 1907, seemed more promising, Joplin died never seeing the play develop more then several auditions.
The first black performed opera on Broadway was Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Steinís "Four Saints in Three Acts" which opened on Feb.20th, 1934. The production ran for 48 performances.
The 1935 production of Porgy differed from earlier black musicals in several ways. Porgy and Bess had virtually no blacks involved in either its production or the creation of the muscial. The show was also a prestige item, produced by the theater guild; earlier musicals were often mounted on a shoestring budget. This version was billed as an "opera", or "folk opera". At one point it seemed the Metropolitan Opera would present the show. It seems that Porgy and Bess had no direct creative links with its black musical predecessors. Nevertheless, without their presence the show might never have existed. The origin of the show was the Heywards hit play, "Porgy" (1927) it was clear that the origins of the project returned back to an earlier date.
George Gershwin had been interested in the rhythms of black music throughout the prewar years, and he attended many gatherings of black musicians, poets, and authors during the Harlem renaissance. He first attempted to create a jazz opera about black life in the early 1920ís. Entitled "Blue Monday Blues", prepared by Gershwin and lyricist Buddy Desylva. Unlike "Shuffle Along" this play had white performers in blackface, which was the norm on Broadway at the time. The play was yanked after opening night after terrible reviews. Charles Darnton of the Evening World found the Gershwins piece "the most dismal, stupid, and incredible blackface sketch that has ever been perpetrated." Critics ignored Gershwinís operatic endeavors but the play and its revival "135th St." showed that Gershwin had been interested in the creation of a black-themed opera some thirteen years before Porgy and Bess.
In the mid 20ís, Gershwin expressed interest in a new novel about black life called Porgy, written by Dubose and Dorothy Heyward in 1924. When Gershwin suggested to Heyward that they write a musical version, Heyward objected, since he and his
Topics Related to Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess, Broadway musicals, Operas, Charleston Renaissance, African-American music, DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, George Gershwin, Porgy, Blue Monday, Rouben Mamoulian, Georgette Harvey
Essays Related to Porgy and Bess
Porgy and BessPorgy and BessPorgy and Bess symbolizes the end of the black musical tradition that flourished in the early part of this century. The play showed the height of white appropriation of what had previously been a black cultural form. All the creative talent backstage was white. This development had been occurring slowly, throughout the 1920ís, but black artists had often worked in a variety of creative capacities. Porgy and Bess became a black musical in its most minimal sense, only as a defin
Gather Togeher in Maya's NameGather Togeher in Maya\'s Name A baby\'s love for his mother is probably the sweetest emotion we can savor. (Angelou) By consistently weaving the theme of motherhood into her literature, Maya Angelou creates both personal narratives and poems that the reader can relate to. Her exploration of this universal theme lends itself to a very large and diverse audience. Throughout Angelou\'s works, she allows her followers to witness her metamorphosis through different aspects of motherhood. Well-work
Grunge LiteratureGrunge Literature Grunge Literature Sources: The River Ophelia - Justine Ettler Marilyn\'s Almost Terminal New York Adventure - Justine Ettler Less Than Zero - Brett Easton Ellis American Psycho - Brett Easton Ellis What quality in a novel is it which prompts it to be labelled as grunge literature? And why do so many authors of books which fall into this genre object so strenuously to the label? Grunge is the literature and fiction of young people living in inner cities around the world, it is
Pearl BaileyPearl Bailey 3-1-04 English Research Paper Pearl Bailey was born in March Twenty-ninth Nineteen Eighteen in Newport News, Virginia to the minister of a church known as the ďHoly Roller.Ē Pearl Bailey never had the professional training to be a singer or any other necessary classes or teachers to become professional, yet against all odds Pearl Bailey still became famous during the Harlem Renaissance. Pearl Bailey received most of her singing education due to the fact that her father was the minis
Miles Dewey Davis IIIMiles Dewey Davis III Often referred to as The Prince of Darkness or The Picasso of Invisible Art, Miles Dewey Davis III, was born May 26,1926 in Alton, Illonois . Soon after his birth, the Davis family moved to East Saint Louis, Missouri. Miles\' father, a dentist and substancial landowner, gave Miles a trumpet on his thirteenth birthday. By the age of fifteen, Miles was playing trumpet in Eddie Randall\'s band Blue Devils. An early influence in Miles\' life was Clark Terry who became fri
Maya AngelouMaya Angelou Dr. Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Baily Johnson, was a doorman, and, later a dietician for the navy. Her mother, Vivian Johnson, was a registered nurse. When Angelou was three years old, her parents were divorced. They sent her and her four-year-old brother, Baily, Jr., to live with their paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson, in Stamps, Arkansas. Henderson ran a small general store and managed to scrape by. She contin
Maya AngelouMaya Angelou Her life was never easy. From the time she was born, Maya Angelou was subjected to racism, rape, grief and dehumanization. She beared enough emotional stress in a time frame that most people don\'t experience in a lifetime. Yet she prevailed. She forced herself to become stronger. And in doing so, she produced writings, which in turn, helped others to become strong. Her experiences and the lessons learned gave her confidence to be a teacher, a preacher, and an inspiration to million
GershwinGershwin Who was George Gershwin? Today, most people would answer that question by saying that he was the composer of the song thatís in the airline commercial. Although that is true, he was much more than that. Gershwin was the most celebrated and wealthiest American composer who expressed the dreams of every American citizen of the 1920\'s. He achieved this by mixing different styles of music like Jewish, black, jazz, classical, blues and put them into one genre and created absolute music. Geo