Porgy and Bess: The Inception of Worldwide Famous Play
or select a category:
All posts

Porgy and Bess: The Inception of Worldwide Famous Play

Porgy and Bess metropolitan opera was written by US composer George Gershwin. Today, the Porgy and Bess story is one of the most frequently performed operas and one of the most common topics for academic essays.

If you are assigned to write an essay on this play, you can always find a reliable helper like a professional write my essay service. Or, to get some ideas and information to write it yourself, read on and we will tell you everything you need to know!

The Porgy and Bess plot tells a story of a disabled black street beggar named Porgy and Bess, a girl he’s trying to rescue from her drug dealer and violent lover. The play takes its origin from another famous play, Porgy, created on the basis of the same-named novel written by DuBose Heyward in 1925.

In 1926, George Gershwin read Heyward’s novel and proposed to collaborate on a new version for the opera. The work on the project began only in 1934 and was first performed already on September 30, 1935.

Today, the Porgy and Bess New York play is performed on Broadway along with other famous plays.

What Is Porgy and Bess Opera About?

If you’re studying this play at college or writing a paper on it, one of the core questions you are probably facing is what is Porgy and Bess about? To reduce the stress and ensure a high grade, you can use professional rewrite my essay services. But, in any case, it won’t hurt to learn what the opera is about, so let us share a brief Porgy and Bess synopsis with you.

The opera’s main character, a street beggar Porgy, meets a woman named Bess when she comes together with her lover Crown to play craps. Porgy recognizes that Bess is trapped in an uneasy life situation with her abusive lover and a cunning drug dealer both trying to lure her. Porgy offers her protection and help and falls in love, trying to save her.

The first version of the play took four hours. At first, the play (or its concert version, to be more specific) was performed privately in Carnegie Hall, New York. But, although the full version was initially written for Broadway, the first-ever public performance of the opera - Porgy and Bess 1935 took place on September 30 in Boston. But since the try-out for the new play went well, the opera was soon performed at the Alvin Theatre, New York, on October 10, 1935.

Eventually, after the Porgy and Bess author, George Gershwin, made the needed refinements and cuts to his original version, the play landed a Broadway run that counted 124 performances. By this time, the Porgy and Bess Broadway show is being performed for over 80 years already. It has been numerously revived and had many adaptations. But, it’s still one of the most performed Broadway operas.

Keen Writer
4.8 (104 reviews)
Total orders:
Ready to elevate your essay game? Let our experts do the heavy lifting!
Get expert help now

Porgy and Bess Original Cast

Whether you order essay or write it yourself, one more thing you need to learn is the original Porgy and Bess cast.

The role of Porgy in the premiere production was given to Todd Duncan. The secondary roles were created by John W. Bubbles and Ruby Elzy.

The leading Porgy and Bess actress in the original cast was Anne Brown. Anne was only 20 years old and was studying at Juilliard. She was also the first African-American vocalist accepted to this institution. Anne wrote to Gershwin, wondering if she could sing to him, and George was so impressed with her singing that she landed the role. In fact, it was because of Anne that the part of Bess was extended, and the name of the play was changed to Porgy and Bess instead of just Porgy.

The two other famous actresses from different casts of Porgy and Bess were Maya Angelou and Audra McDonald.

Maya Angelou Porgy and Bess was selected for the role of Ruby for the 1952 touring production. Maya was also a young actress by the time she got the role. But, just like Anne Brown, she also impressed the public with her play.

Audra McDonald Porgy and Bess performed the role of Bess in the 2011 Broadway adaptation and also impressed the public.

Get Help with Your Essay, Spend Your Time Wisely.
Get help!
Place My Order

Porgy and Bess Movie Version

Whether you decide to buy essay or write it, you should know that the Porgy and Bess Broadway show had such a success that many saw it to have a good potential as a film. 

Several producers fought to secure the rights for the film. However, the opposition was tough. Only after over 20 years of resistance, Ira Gershin, George’s brother, sold the rights to Samuel Goldwyn on May 8, 1957. That’s when the production of the Porgy and Bess movie 1959 began.

There was one accident that happened during the shooting when on July 3, 1958, all costumes and sets were destroyed by a fire, which resulted in a loss of $2 million.

The musical film based on the opera was released on June 24, 1959. It was directed by Otto Preminger and starred Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in the main roles.

After its release, the movie won multiple awards, including Grammy, Golden Globe Award, and Academy Award in various nominations. 

To see the movie, you can type the request “Porgy and Bess YouTube” in the search line and find a full version. And, the opera itself is also available in Porgy and Bess DVD and VHS formats.

Musical Accompaniment and Porgy and Bess Songs

You can always turn to a professional essay writing service for help. But, for your classes, it would still be great to know who composed Porgy and Bess.

In this block of our article, we are going to focus on the musical component of this piece.


As you already know, the main Porgy and Bess composer is George Gershwin. He was the one to make the biggest contribution to this opera.

Of course, the libretto for Porgy and Bess Gershwin couldn’t handle all by himself. He worked together with the novel’s author DuBose Heyward and his brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin.

George Gershwin Porgy and Bess music was inspired by New York jazz roots, as well as different folk songs inherent in southern black culture, such as blues, work songs, praying songs, etc.


Porgy and Bess contains lots of songs, many of which became standards in blues and jazz. If you look it up on the Internet, you should be able to find a complete Porgy and Bess song list. But, if we had to name several most famous songs from this opera, here they are:

  • “Summertime”
  • “My Man’s Gone Now”
  • “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin”
  • “Bess, O Where’s My Bess”
  • “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York”
  • “It Ain’t Necessarily So”

Porgy and Bess Summertime and It Ain’t Necessarily So are the two most famous songs of all. These songs were so famous that they were numerously recorded by well-known artists. To name a few, you can find Porgy and Bess Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald Porgy and Bess recordings.

The Bottom Line

We hope that reading this article was not only informative but also fun. Now, you should have a better understanding of the Porgy & Bess opera, its history, musical accompaniment, and other interesting facts.

As was mentioned earlier, due to the large popularity of this opera, students often face the task of writing an essay about Porgy and Bess. If you were assigned to write such a paper too, in the conclusion, we’d like to share a few Porgy and Bess essay prompts you can use for it:

  • Symbolism in Porgy and Bess Opera
  • African Musical Traditions Shared Through Porgy and Bess Music
  • Main Problems Disclosed in Porgy and Bess
  • The Controversy of Topics in Porgy and Bess
  • George Gershwin’s and Porgy and Bess Opera’s Contribution to American Theater History

Apart from this, you can also choose to write a classic what is Porgy and Bess about essay. Whatever you decide, we hope that this article helped you gain inspiration and learn more about this opera!

Frequently asked questions

View Our Writer’s Sample Before Crafting Your Own!
Why Have There Been No Great Female Artists?
Place My Order
What was changed:
Back to blog

New Posts to Your Inbox!

Stay in touch

Never Spam
Unsubscribe anytime
Thank you!
Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Save your time by delegating work to our experts!
Plagiarism Report
Negotiable Price
Unlimited Revisions
Write My Paper