Encore Gershwin: Porgy and Bess
Howard Pollack, the John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston and author of George Gershwin: His Life and Work (2006) will continue his survey of Gershwin’s life and work, begun last semester, with three lectures devoted to the composer’s masterpiece, Porgy and Bess. The most popular of all American operas, Porgy and Bess—composed for a nearly all-black cast—is set in Charleston, South Carolina, and tells the bittersweet story of a crippled beggar, Porgy, and his love, Bess. The opera contains such popular songs as “Summertime” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”
January 28: “FROM PORGY TO PORGY AND BESS”
Professor Pollack will cover the development of the drama from the novel written by the white Charlestonian DuBose Heyward, to the play by Heyward and his wife, to the opera composed by the Heywards and Gershwin, with help from George’s brother Ira.
February 4: “WORDS AND MUSIC”
The second lecture will focus on the opera itself, with Pollack at the piano exploring its words and music, including the cuts commonly taken since the work’s premiere.
February 11: “EXCERPTS AND HISTORY”
Acclaimed singers Timothy Jones, bassbaritone, and Melissa Givens, soprano, will perform excerpts from the opera. Professor Pollack will consider the work’s production history, including its European premiere in Nazi-occupied Denmark, its celebrated Breen-Davis revival starring William Warfield and Leontyne Price, and the film starring Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
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