Music: It Ain't Necessarily So

A new Porgy and Bess stages Gershwin as grand opera

George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess has had a curious history. At its premiere in 1935, it received mixed notices and was thought by many to be a failure; yet now it is considered by some to be the great American opera. Blacks were initially offended by its implicit Uncle Tomism; Duke Ellington declared, "The times are here to debunk Gershwin's lampblack Negroisms." Yet black singers have sprung to prominence in its roles, among them Todd Duncan (the first Porgy), Leontyne Price and William Warfield...

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