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Created by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward and sung by generations of black performers, Porgy and Bess has been both embraced and reviled since its debut in 1935. In this comprehensive account, Ellen Noonan examines the opera's long history of invention and reinvention as a barometer of twentieth-century American expectations about race, culture, and the struggle for equality. In its surprising endurance lies a myriad of local, national, and international stories.
For black performers and commentators, Porgy and Bess was a nexus for debates about cultural representation and racial uplift. White producers, critics, and even audiences spun revealing racial narratives around the show, initially in an attempt to demonstrate its authenticity and later to keep it from becoming discredited or irrelevant. Expertly weaving together the wide-ranging debates over the original novel, Porgy, and its adaptations on stage and film with a history of its intimate ties to Charleston, The Strange Career of "Porgy and Bess" uncovers the complexities behind one of our nation's most long-lived cultural touchstones.
|Publisher:||The University of North Carolina Press|
|Sold by:||Barnes & Noble|
|File size:||5 MB|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Romance of Negro Life: Porgy, 1925 13
Interlude. Charleston, 1680-1900 53
Chapter 2 A Chocolate-Covered Lithograph Strip: Porgy, 1927 73
Interlude. Charleston, 1920-1940 125
Chapter 3 Gershwin's Idea of What a Negro Opera Should Be: Porgy and Bess, 1935 143
Chapter 4 Neither the Measure of America nor That of the Negro: Porgy and Bess, 1952-1956 185
Interlude. Charleston, 1940-1969 235
Chapter 5 Forget Any Version You May Have Seen Before: Porgy and Bess, 1959-2012 259
Epilogue. Charleston, 1970-2005 305
What People are Saying About This
Ellen Noonan digs deep into the production and reception history of what has been called 'the most contradictory cultural symbol ever created in the Western world.' In this richly detailed book, Porgy and Bess becomes a prism refracting myriad triumphs and tragedies, collusions and fissures, in the American history of race, region, and culture. It is about white fantasy and black jobs, the slippery intersection of cultural and political representation, the problems of canonization, and, ultimately, the distorted feedback loop between the imaginary Catfish Row and the realities of everyday life for African Americans in Charleston. I was on the edge of my seat until the curtain call.Karl Hagstrom Miller, University of Texas