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Georg Gershwin

Porgy and Bess

Grand Opera House
Warsaw, Poland

Ella Fitzgerald Ft. Louis Armstrong - Porgy and Bess
(Full Album)


1.     It Ain't Necessarily So
2.     Stompin' At the Savoy
3.     Summertime
4.     Cheek to Cheek
5.     I Got Plenty O Nuttin
6.     A Fine Romance
7.     I'll Wind
8.     Here Come De Honey Man Crab Man
9.     Under a Blanket of Blue
10.   Gee Baby Ain't I Good to You
11.   The Nearness of You
12.   Oh Bess Oh Wheres My Bess
13.   Makin' Whoopee
14.   They All Laughed
15.   Autumn in New York
16.   Let's Do It Let's Fall in Love
17.   Bess You Is My Woman Now
18.   They Can't Take That Away from Me
19.   The Buzzard Song
20.   Tenderly
21.   Don't Be That Way
22.   April in Paris
23.   Come's Love
24.   These Foolish Things
25.   Isn't This a Lovely Day
26.   Love Is Here to Stay
27.   A Foggy Day
28.   I Get a Kick Out of You
29.   Moonlight in Vermont
30.   Learnin' the Blues
31.   A Woman Is a Sometime Thing
32.   Oh Lawd I'm On My Way
33.   I Want's to Stay Here
34.   My Man's Gone Now
35.   Stars Fell On Alabama
36.   Let's Call the Whole Thing Off
37.   I Won't Dance
38.   Oh Doctor Jesus
39.   I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm
40.   What You Wan't Wid Bess
41.   There's a Boat Dats Leavinsoon for New York
42.   I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket
43.   Willow Weep for Me
44.   Can't We Be Friends


1935 - Porgy and Bess - Gershwin

Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera by the American composer George Gershwin (1898-1937), with a libretto written by author DuBose Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin. It was adapted from Dorothy Heyward and DuBose Heyward's play Porgy, itself an adaptation of DuBose Heyward's 1925 novel of the same name.

As a play, Porgy, by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, was a success. But when Mr. Heyward and Ira Gershwin made an opera libretto of it, with music by Ira's brother George, it was a smash hit. The general critical opinion was: “Here is the first completely successful and completely American opera.” That was in 1935. Since its first successful run—first in Boston and later on Broadway—it has been repeatedly revived, sometimes with spoken dialogue, sometimes with Gershwin's original recitatives. It reached Europe in 1945, when it was given in Switzerland and Denmark with largely European casts; but it did not become really popular on that continent till an all-Negro company toured there in 1952-53, when Germany and Austria could not seem to get enough of it, while London provided crowded houses for several months on end. No previous or subsequent American opera—not even Gian Carlo Menotti’s great successes—seems to have found so strong a place in the Western world's musical life. And even the East, at least as represented by Soviet Russia, has welcomed it enthusiastically.



Opera in three acts by George Gershwin with libretto in English by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin, based on the play Porgy by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward

Porgy, a cripple
Crown, a stevedore 
Bess, his girl 
a fisherman  
Clara, his wife  
an inhabitant of Catfish Row 
Serena, his wife  
Sporting Life,
a dope peddler  
the honeyman  

Time: the 1920’s  
Place: Charleston, South Carolina        
First performance at Boston, September 30, 1935        

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Summertime



Bass‐baritone. A crippled resident of Catfish Row. He gives a home to Bess when she is deserted by Crown and falls in love with her. When Crown tries to reclaim her, Porgy kills him. All the other residents refuse to give evidence against him and the police release him. By this time Bess has left for New York. He determines to find her. Arias: I got plenty o’ nuttin’; Bess, you is my woman now; Oh Lord, I'm on my way. Created (1935) by Todd Duncan.


Baritone. A stevedore, he kills a man during a crap game and has to flee, leaving his girlfriend, Bess, who falls in love with Porgy. When Crown tries to win her back, Porgy kills him. Created ( 1935 ) by Warren Coleman.


Soprano. Girlfriend of Crown, who deserts her. She is given a home by the crippled Porgy. She visits the widowed Serena, whose husband Crown has killed. Bess gradually falls in love with Porgy, but Crown tries to win her back. In a fight with Porgy he is killed. While Porgy is being questioned by police, Bess leaves for New York. Aria: I loves you, Porgy. Created (1935) by Anne Brown.


Baritone. A fisherman, married to Clara. He is lost at sea during a storm. Created (1935) by Edward (Eddie) Matthews.



Soprano. Wife of a fisherman, Jake—he dies at sea in a storm, leaving her with their young baby. Aria: Summertime. Created (1935) by Abbie Mitchell.



Soprano. Wife of Robbins who is killed by Crown. Aria: My man's gone now. Created (1935) by Ruby Elzy.

Sportin’ Life:

Tenor. A pedlar of dope (‘happy dust’). Gives some to Bess and, under its influence, she leaves for New York while Porgy is being questioned by the police. Created (1935) by John W. Bubbles.


Prensa Teatro Colón - Arnaldo Colombaroli - Máximo Parpagnoli



Scene 1 is a square in Catfish Row, Charleston, South Carolina. Here aristocrats once lived, but now Negro workers are crowded into it. The atmosphere of a hot, southern, summer night is set at once by the lovely lullaby Summertime, sung by the contented young wife and mother, Clara. Her husband, Jake, expresses the local male attitude toward the opposite sex in the jolly tune A Woman Is a Sometime Thing. Porgy, a cripple well liked in Catfish Row, comes in on his goat cart. The crap game, begun casually enough, develops in earnest, and becomes even more exciting when Crown takes part, for Crown is the local bully. A fight springs up like a flash fire, and Crown kills one of the men. Immediately he has to run off, leaving his girl Bess there. One of the flashier fellows, Sporting Life, tries—and fails—to get Bess to go with him to New York, and the women all shut their doors on her.

This is Porgy’s chance. He had always loved Bess, but from a distance because he was a cripple. Now she has no other place to turn, and as the scene ends, she enters Porgy’s home.

Scene 2 takes place in the room that used to be occupied by Serena and Robbins; but it is Robbins who has been murdered by Crown, and Serena’s neighbors are now gathered to sing over the body and to collect money for the funeral. Porgy, accompanied by Bess, comes in and contributes money and, a natural-bom leader, he takes the principal part in the prayers and encouragement. Serena herself sings a deeply moving dirge (My Man’s Gone Now). A pair of white detectives breaks in on the sorrowing group to warn Serena that the body must be buried the next day. Before they leave, they drag off with them old Peter, a perfectly innocent suspect.

A rather sympathetic undertaker—also white—now comes in; and although not enough money for a funeral has been collected, he accepts Serena’s promise to pay up later. The mourners approve of this, and the act ends as Bess leads them in a rousing song beginning: “Oh, the train is at the station.”


Scene 1 It is now a month later in Catfish Row, and even though the September storms are due, the fisherman Jake is getting ready to sail for the blackfish banks. As for Porgy—he is living with Bess and is completely happy. He sings about it in fetching syncopation: I Got Plenty o’ Nutting -  and “nuttin’s” plenty for him. He even buys a fake divorce for Bess—a divorce from Crown, to whom she never was married—and he gets good news about his friend, old Peter, who is to be let out of jail. This is the occasion for another happy song—the Buzzard Song, originally cut out of the score by Gershwin in order to make the opera shorter. Sporting Life now makes one more attempt to get Bess to leave with him, but Porgy, a powerful man even though a cripple, scares the little nuisance almost to death. Left alone at last, Porgy and Bess sing the love duet, Bess, You Is My Woman Now.

A military band comes on now, followed by the crowd getting ready for a community picnic to Kittiwah Island. At first Bess wants to stay with Porgy, but when Porgy urges her to have fun, she goes along.

Scene 2 is at the picnic on Kittiwah Island. Sporting Life sings his worldly-wise ditty, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and this is followed by a brief, dramatic scene between Crown and Bess. Crown—still hiding from the police—emerges from a thicket. He manages to get Bess alone, and she finds it impossible—in spite of her love for Porgy—to resist him.

Scene 3 begins at dawn one week later. There are threats of a storm, as Jake the fisherman prepares to leave Catfish Row. As for Bess, she has been unconscious for a week after her encounter with Crown on Kittiwah Island. Her neighbor Serena, Porgy, and others pray over her, and finally “Dr. Jesus” makes her well. Somehow Porgy knows she has been with Crown, and he tells her so. But he forgives her, and she admits she has promised to return to Crown. She wants to stay with Porgy but fears her own weakness should Crown return. Porgy promises to defend her against him.

Scene 4 takes place in Serena's room. The terrible storm is now at its height, and all the superstitious neighbors are praying, for some of them really believe that Judgment Day is at hand. Suddenly Crown forces his way in. He taunts the crippled Porgy and shocks everyone by claiming God as his friend. But when Clara sees—through the window—that her husband Jake’s boat is overturned, it is only Crown who is ready to help. Leaving the baby with Bess, Clara follows Crown out into the raging storm.


Scene 1 All three short scenes in this act take place in Catfish Row. The first opens with the women mourning the loss of Jake, Clara, and Crown in the storm. But Sporting Life wanders in and hints that Crown has survived somehow. Offstage, when the square is deserted, one hears Bess singing Clara’s lullaby to the little orphan.

Then Crown appears, crawling toward Porgy's door, from which he can hear Bess’s voice. As he passes the window, the powerful hands of Porgy shoot out, seize Crown by the throat, and quietly choke him to death. “Bess, you got a man now,” he remarks. “You got Porgy.”

Scene 2 A few hours later a detective comes to find Crown's murderer, and after some questioning he drags off Porgy to identify the body. This is Sporting Life's chance. Thinking himself rid of both his rivals, he again starts to woo Bess, promising to take her to a great life in There’s a Boat That’s Leavin’ Soon for New York, a jazzy description of the joys of Harlem. He also tempts the girl with drugs—“happy dust,” he calls it; and Bess, though she talks harshly to her tempter, is obviously weakening.

Scene 3 One week later Porgy returns, for the police have not been able to charge him with the murder. He looks everywhere for his Bess. Finally he learns that she has gone to New York with Sporting Life. He knows nothing about New York —only that it is far north, way “past the custom house.” Crippled as he is, he calls for his goat and cart. As the opera ends, he is being sped on his way by all his neighbors, and he leads them in a chorus like a spiritual (Oh, Lawd, I’m on My Way).

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