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George GershwinHis Life and Work$
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Howard Pollack

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248649

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248649.001.0001

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The First Production of Porgy and Bess

The First Production of Porgy and Bess

(p.592) Chapter Thirty-Two The First Production of Porgy and Bess
George Gershwin

Howard Pollack

University of California Press

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

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