George Gershwin 's Opera Porgy And Bess

1417 Words Apr 1st, 2016 6 Pages
George Gershwin‘s opera Porgy and Bess is said to have been racist and outdated even in the time that it was written in 1935. There are many aspects of this work that are incorrect and prolong stereotypes about African Americans by depicting them as violent and religious. Gershwin classified this opera as a folk opera, a term which was offensive to African Americans. George Gershwin, arguably a great composer, composed an opera that is considered to be controversial due to its negative representation of African Americans. Porgy and Bess is a cultural artifact and when discussing it we bring up complex issues of race from the time it was written and even to this day in the United States.
Gershwin based Porgy and Bess off of DuBose Heyward‘s novel Porgy written in 1925. Gershwin had been waiting to write an opera that could meld classical and jazz techniques and in 1926 he believed he had found the story that would allow for that. Gershwin was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera in 1930 to compose a great, uniquely American opera. However, in order for his opera to be performed in conjunction with the novel it had been based on, it needed an all Negro cast. At that time the Metropolitan Opera didn’t allow for Negro performers. All of the black roles usually at that time were done in blackface and that was not what Gershwin wanted. So Gershwin looked elsewhere and he and Heyward later found that it could be produced by Theatre Guild with an all Negro cast.
At this time…
Open Document