Created by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward and sung by
generations of black performers, Porgy and Bess
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
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