Porgy and Bess in Charleston

June 16, 2016

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The new production of Porgy and Bess, which recently closed at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, received widespread coverage from the national press.

Favorably reviewed in the New York Times, the production was also the subject of a June 9th story on the PBS NewsHour by correspondent Jeffrey Brown about the sometimes troubled relationship between the city of Charleston and the classic folk opera. Brown’s story coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Spoleto Festival and the first anniversary of the murders of nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Although the production has ended, Charleston is still celebrating its connection to Porgy and Bess. The city’s Gibbes Museum of Art is hosting Beyond Catfish Row: The Art of Porgy and Bess, an exhibition which runs through October 9, 2016, and Harlan Greene, the head of Special Collections at the Addlestone Library at the College of Charleston, has curated another exhibition, located on the third floor of the library, which runs through August 2016.

Greene has also edited Porgy & Bess: A Charleston Story (Home House Publishing), a book filled with insights into how the city inspired DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel, the subsequent Broadway play he wrote with his wife Dorothy, and the 1935 opera. Illustrated with rare photographs, the book is available from the publisher’s website.

— Michael Owen

Dorothy Heyward DuBose Heyward Porgy and Bess (opera)