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UMS Concert Program, October 14, 1975: Michigan Opera Theatre -- David Di Chiera

UMS Concert Program, October 14, 1975: Michigan Opera Theatre -- David Di Chiera image UMS Concert Program, October 14, 1975: Michigan Opera Theatre -- David Di Chiera image UMS Concert Program, October 14, 1975: Michigan Opera Theatre -- David Di Chiera image UMS Concert Program, October 14, 1975: Michigan Opera Theatre -- David Di Chiera image
Day
14
Month
October
Year
1975
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Rights Held By
University Musical Society
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Concert: Special
Complete Series: 3955
Power Center For The Performing Arts, Ann Arbor, Michigan

The University Musical Society
of
The University of Michigan
Presents
Michigan Opera Theatre
David Di Chiera, General Director
Tuesday, October 14, 1975, at 8:00
Power Center for the Performing Arts
Ann Arbor, Michigan
PROGRAM
Porgy and Bess
A folk opera in two acts by
George Gershwin
After the play Porgy, by DuBose and Dorothy Heyward Libretto by DuBose Heyward Lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin
starring
IRENE OLIVER as Bess BENJAMIN MATTHEWS as Porgy
Time: The mid 1920s Place: Charleston, South Carolina
Act One
Scene 1. Catfish Row. A summer evening. Scene 2. Serena's Room. The following night. Scene 3. Catfish Row. A month after. Scene 4. Kittawah Island. Evening of the same day.
Act Two
Scene 1. Catfish Row. Before dawn, a week later. Scene 2. Serena's Room. Dawn of the following day. Scene 3. Catfish Row. The next night. Scene 4. Catfish Row. The following morning. Scene 5. Catfish Row Five days later, afternoon.
Ella Gerber, Director
Remi Ghilespi, Music DircctorConductorChorus Master
Costumes by Karen McKean, Opal Hairston, Bonnie Whalen
Sets by Paul A. Norrenbrock
Special Concert Complete Programs 3955
CAST (In order of appearance)
Sporting Life .............................................................. Robert Monroe
Lily ......................................................................... Gerri Adams
Annie .............................................................. Synthia Maddox Reese
Clara ................................................................ Bernadine L. Oakley
Lady with laundry bundle ............................................... Bertha Mae Adams
Man and wife ................................. George Franklin Williams, Dorothea A. Pullen
Mingo .....................................................................Dennis Rowland
Men in crap game............................. Chester Carter, Billy L. Mack, James E. Parks,
James G. St. Clair
Boy in crap game ......................................................... Robert Brantley
Fighting couple ....................................... Augustus Williamson, Amina Rahaman
Man on third floor..........................................................Ulysses L. Wolf
Serena ............................................................. Earnestine F. Nimmons
Jake ............................................................. Sherman Patrick Garner
Robbins ...................................................................... Ned Wright
Maria ........................................................... Marguerite Lenora Motley
Jim ....................................................................... Leroy Winston
Jim's wife ................................................................. Anna C. Aycox
Serena's children ....................................... LaMon Griffin, Tracy Monique Hines
Skip, Maria's helper ............................................... Herbert L. Rawlings, Jr.
Peter the Honeyman ..................................................... Melvyn Hardiman
Scipio ................................................................... Johnny Johnson
Porgy ................................................................. Benjamin Matthews
Young man on breezeway ................................................. Robert E. Helms
Crown .................................................................... Leonard Parker
Bess ......................................................................... Irene Oliver
Ruby ............................................................. Florence Pate Sampson
Ruby's husband................................................................. J. C. Blue
Policeman ............................................................... Roman Terleckyj
Burial Voices .................... Patricia J. Lewis, Douglas C. Rowland, Augustus Williamson,
Faye Blakcly Washington, Herbert L. Rawlings, Jr., Bill Broyles, Doris J. Berry, Sherman Patrick Garner, James E. Parks
Detective .................................................................. John 0. Peters
Undertaker ..................................................................... Van Fore
Frazier ................................................................... C. Cass Hudson
Neighbor lady and her cronies .................. Doris J. Berry, Edris L. Banks, Penelope Jones
Strawberry woman .................................................... Billie Joyce Bowden
Crabman ..................................................................... Marvinearl
Coroner ..................................................................... Fred J. Bush
Talkative couple ............................................ Carl M. Temple, Penelope Jones
Porgy's goat ................................................................... Arrowhead
Other residents of Catfish Row: Mattye Gaither Anderson, Veda M. Bryant, Perry L. Brown, Tilis Butler, Billie Carter, Christopher A. Hall, Abu Bakr Hamilton, Gracie Hanks, Alice Harris, Larry L. Johnson, Sandi Johnson, Lewis H. Martin, Gloria L. McKee, Art Robinson, Charletter Sanders, Myles G. Savage, Monique Shelton, James S. Simmons, Josephine M. Smith, Silas N. Waldon, Charmaine Bailey Whitehead, Carolyn Williams, Renee Williams, Myrna J. Wilson. Other children of the community: Darah Arrington, Yvonne L. Butler, Jerrilyn Mack
Porgy and Bess The Story
ACT I
A tranquil Saturday night in the lives of the hardworking residents of Catfish Row is interrupted by sudden violence, springing from a crap game squabble between the amiable Robbins and drunken Crown. Robbins is brutally killed within sight of his wife, Serena, and Crown escapes before the police arrive, leaving his woman Bess, behind. Porgy, a crippled beggar, sympathetically offers her refuge when the rest of the community refuses.
Robbins' funeral expenses are raised by the community during a wake. The proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of a detective, who takes the aging Peter off to jail as a material witness to the killing, and by the undertaker who promises to give Robbins a decent burial.
A month later, Crown has still not returned for Bess, who is living happily with Porgy. Frazier, a mocklawyer, takes advantage of Porgy, selling him a "divorce" which Porgy believes will legally free Bess from Crown. The community, including Bess (still considered an outsider unacceptable to the selfrighteous ladies of Catfish Row), leaves for the annual church picnic on Kittiwah Island. Porgy is left behind, unable to make the trip, but happy for Bess and blissfully content with the security of their love.
The festivities of the picnic, led by the worldly Sporting Life, are ended by the sound of a horn from the boat that will take them all back to the mainland, but Crown suddenly appears and detains Bess. Her initial resistance to his advances is weakened by his sexual dominance, and he carries her off into the thicket, his hiding place.
ACT II
At dawn a week later, Jake and the fisherman depart for the blackfish banks, although his wife, Clara, fears bad weather. Bess is heard from within Porgy's room, deliriously moaning with a fever contracted on the island. Serena leads a prayer in Bess' behalf, more confident of her own spiritual powers than trusting in the treatment Bess would receive in the white man's hospital. After a buzzard (considered an evil omen) has been sighted and driven off, Bess' delirium ceases just as Serena predicted. Porgy reconfirms his love for her, although he is fully aware of her rendezvous with Crown, and he promises to protect her from him when Crown comes for her. Suddenly, the hurricane bell is rung, a storm warning that causes the residents to take shelter.
They huddie in Serena's room during the storm. Crown bursts in, intending to take Bess with him, but is interrupted by the sighting of Jake's boat, upsidedown in the river. Clara runs out into the storm to find him, and Crown follows, being the only ablebodied man brave enough to rescue her. He promises once again to return for Bess.
The following night, a spiritual is sung in behalf of Clara, Jake, and Crown, all presumed lost in the storm. Crown unexpectedly returns, intent on stealing Bess and killing Porgy, but Porgy surprises him with a knife, and succeeds in killing him.
A detective and coroner arrive the next day to investigate Crown's death. Porgy is taken off to jail to identify the body, superstitiously fearful of the thought of looking on the face of the man he killed. Sporting Life convinces Bess that Porgy will be convicted and subsequently jailed for a long time, and succeeds in luring her away from Catfish Row. They leave together, seeking a new, extravagant, amoral life in New York.
Porgy returns from jail a week later, only to discover that Bess has left him. Heartbroken, yet firmly resolved, he leaves on his goat cart, intending to travel alone, all the way to New York, to find her.
The History
The history of Porgy and Bess began in 1925 with a bestselling novel called Porgy, written by DuBose Heyward. The Catfish Row of Heyward's story had a reallife counterpart: Cabbage Row, a neighborhood of dilapidated buildings and a rundown mansion surrounding a courtyard. Heyward modeled his Porgy on an actual Charleston character, a local beggar named Goat Sammy, who made his way about the community in a little box on wheels drawn by a goat. What emerged from Heyward's transformation of Goat Sammy was the successful novel, followed two years later by the triumphant Broadway play, also called Porgy, which ran for 367 performances.
George Gershwin read Heyward's novel a year after it was published and was profoundly affected by it. Here was a warm yet powerful basic human story told with feeling and compassion by someone obviously familiar with the locale and the people he described. He immediately wrote to Heyward and proposed a collaboration on a musical version of the tale. Heyward was most interested and responded affirmatively. What resulted was eight years of negotiating and cor?respondence before Gershwin was able to interrupt his busy schedule and devote himself to creating the music. During this period Heyward reached an agreement with Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, who had aligned themselves with Al Jolson to set Porgy to music. The parties were unable to consummate the arrangement and the deal fell through.
Gershwin and Heyward were an unlikely alliance. Gershwin was the bumptious, quickmoving, quicktalking New Yorker of new immigrant background; Heyward was a Southern aristocrat of plantationowner stock who could trace his lineage to Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Yet, together they achieved a consistency of style that defies discernment of where the New Yorker begins and the Southerner leaves off. Much of this artistic partnership is attri?butable to Ira Gershwin, George's brother, who served as a creative middleman, offering refinements and original ideas in text, music, and lyrics.
Gershwin actually composed Porgy and Bess during a fourmonth hiatus at Folly Beach, a small island ten miles from Charleston. His residents of Catfish Row are based on the Gullahs who inhabited adjacent St. James Island. Physically and emotionally removed from the mainstream of American life, they had retained more of their African heritage in thpir customs and language than any black groups in America.
Ironically, Porgy and Bess was not an immediate success. It opened in New York in 193S to mixed reviews and was a boxoffice flop, quietly closing after only 124 performances. Gershwin was never to see another production of his creation after the original closed.
A streamlined, fastermoving version of Porgy and Bess was revived on Broadway in 1942 and was a smash success, both critically and financially. The rest is history. Porgy and Bess has become a worldwide favorite, playing to millions. Ironically, Gershwin did not live to witness any of this belated success. He died in 1937 at the age of 38 of a brain tumor.
The University Musical Society is pleased to present these performances in recognition of our nation's Bicentennial Celebration.
UNIVERSITY MUSICAL SOCIETY
Burton Memorial Tower, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 Phones: 6653717, 7642538

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