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Porgy and Bess is probably the most famous and most successful American opera from the twentieth century and at times, it has been the most controversial. Based on DuBose Heyward’s novel, Porgy, and the play that was adapted from the novel, it has long been considered the crowning achievement in the stellar careers of all of the authors. To this day, the story of the crippled beggar transformed by his unexpected and improbable love for Bess is performed all over the world by theatre and opera companies. Porgy and Bess opened in New York at the Alvin Theatre on October 10, 1935. The landmark 1953 Broadway revival toured for years as a goodwill ambassador on behalf of the U.S. State Department and in 1959, the opera was finally filmed by Samuel Goldwyn. Michael Capasso is proud to present the 75th Anniversary Tour of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.
Crown enters with Bess. He's drunk, and when he loses, he starts a fight and kills Robbins with a cotton hook. Crown runs to hide, but tells Bess he'll be back. Sportin’ Life offers to take her to New York with him, but she refuses. Nobody else will give her shelter when the police arrive except Porgy.
Porgy and Bess are at Robbins' funeral, where Serena is leading the mourners. A policeman enters and arrests Peter as a "material witness." Serena is still mourning ("My man's gone now") as she convinces the undertaker to bury Robbins for less than his usual fee, but as the scene ends, Bess leads the mourners in a spiritual. ("Oh, the train is at the station").
A few weeks later, Jake and the Fishermen are working on their nets when Porgy leans out the window and compares his life to theirs. ("I got plenty o' nuttin'"). Maria, a shopkeeper, chases Sportin' Life away from her shop when he tries to sell his 'happy dust' near her store ("I hates yo' struttin' style").
All leave for the church picnic on Kittiwah Island, except Bess and Sporting Life, who asks her again to come to New York with him and tries to give her more dope, which she refuses. Porgy chases him away and he and Bess sing about their new happiness. ("Bess, you is my woman now"). All except Porgy leave for the church picnic.
At the picnic, Sportin’ Life sings about his own brand of religion ("It ain't necessarily so"). All are getting ready to leave when Crown, hidden out of sight, calls out to Bess. She tells him she's Porgy's woman now, but he won't let her go. ("What you want wid Bess?"). He pulls her away as the boat leaves without her.
Back on Catfish Row, the fishermen are getting ready to leave. Bess has returned raving, still delirious after Crown's attack. Peter wants to send her to the hospital, but Serena would rather pray over her. The street fills with vendors, and eventually Bess emerges, and explains to Porgy that she wants to stay with him but that when Crown comes she'll have to go. Porgy tells her that she doesn't have to go with him ("I loves you, Porgy"). A hurricane begins to rise, and Clara, frightened, runs out to her husband, Jake.
Everyone, gathered in Clara's room, prays for shelter from the storm. There is a knock at the door; Crown enters and tries to take Bess away; he laughs at the frightened townspeople and sings a bawdy song to counteract their prayers ("A red-headed woman"). Clara sees Jake's overturned boat and runs out to find him. Bess calls for a man to go after her; Crown goes, after taunting Porgy and asking him why he can’t go.
After the storm, the women are crying for their men; Sportin’ Life teases them and Bess. Crown enters; he and Porgy fight, and Porgy kills him.
The police and the coroner come to Catfish Row the next morning; they want to take Porgy down to identify Crown's body. Sportin' Life tells him that when he looks at him Crown’s wound will begin to bleed. Telling Bess that Porgy will be locked up for sure, Sportin' Life forces some dope on her, and leaves more outside her door as he leaves.
Porgy returns. While he tries to distribute the gifts he bought with the money he made playing craps in jail, he discovers Bess is gone ("Oh, Bess, oh where's my Bess"). He learns that she has gone off with Sportin' Life to New York. Porgy prepares to follow her as the curtain falls.