Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess
An American jazz opera written by George Gershwin

George Gershwin was born on September, 26 in 1898 in New York. He soon began to play the piano and became a professional piano player and composer in his late teens. His most famous compositions are "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Concerto in F".
Gershwin hit on the idea of writing "Porgy and Bess" after reading the novel "Porgy" by DuBose Hewyard. In the summer of 1935 Gershwin, his brother Ira, DuBose Hewyard and his wife wrote that three - act opera. During Gershwin’s lifetime it was not very successful. It was performed more frequently in Europe, where people appreciated how Gershwin had connected certain elements of European music with the American jazz of the 1920’s and 30’s.

"Porgy and Bess" deals with the poor blacks in the ghettos and their daily lives and loves. Gershwin used a very colloquial language ("Bess, you is my woman", "Porgy, I loves you"). The opera takes place in Catfish Row, a small, poor village in the south.

The rude sailor Crown kills the dockworker Robbins, because he loses very often in a game of dice. Crown flees from the police, his girlfriend Bess hides at Porgy’s place. Porgy is a maimed beggar, who has to walk around in a goat - drawn cart and he is secretly in love with Bess.
The most famous piece, "Summertime", a lullaby, is sung in this act. It also contains some nice spirituals sung for the dead Robbins.

Act two takes place one month later. Porgy and Bess are very happy together; she promises that she will never leave him. The whole village except Porgy is going to a picnic on a small island nearby.
When the picnic is in full swing, they hear the ship that will bring them back home As they leave leisurely Crown appears and tells Bess that he will come back to her soon. Although she explains that she would rather stay with Porgy, he kisses her. Bess tries to run away, but he follows her into the woods.
Two days later Bess returns and is very ill. The religious Maria cures her by her prayers. Bess tells Porgy that she’d like to stay with him, but that she won’t be able to resist if Crown comes to take her away.

Finally Crown comes to take Bess, but Porgy stabs and strangles him. Then he exclaims, "Bess, you got a man now".
Everybody at Catfish Row denies that he has seen anything, nevertheless Porgy is taken away by the police. While he is in prison, Sportin’ Life, a drug dealer and a friend of Crown, tries to persuade Bess to come to New York with him. He gives her some cocaine.
A week later Porgy returns from jail and asks for Bess. When he hears that she has gone to New York with Sportin’ Life he follows her in his cart.

goat - drawn cart: Wagen, gezogen von einer Ziege
dockworker: Hafenarbeiter
lullaby: Wiegenliedto
strangle: erw├╝rgen

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