Recorded in 1940 & ’42.
Anne Brown/Decca Symphony Orchestra 1:10
2 A Woman Is a Sometime Thing
Todd Duncan 3:42
3 My Man's Gone Now
Anne Brown/Eva Jessye Choir/Decca Symphony Orchestra 6:30
4 It Takes a Long Pull to Get There
Edward Matthews/Decca Symphony Orchestra 10:37
5 I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
Eva Jessye Choir/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 12:47
6 The Buzzard Song
Eva Jessye Choir/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 15:32
7 Bess, You Is My Woman Now
Anne Brown/Eva Jessye Choir/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 19:20
8 It Ain't Necessarily So
Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 24:02
9 What You Want Wid Bess?
Anne Brown/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 26:45
10 Strawberry Woman's Call/Crab Man's Call
Helen Dowdy/Gladys Goode/Georgette Harvey/Decca Symphony Orchestra/William Woolfolk 29:49
11 I Loves You, Porgy
Anne Brown/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 32:57
12 The Requiem
Eva Jessye Choir/Decca Symphony Orchestra 36:23
13 There's a Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon for New York
Anne Brown/Avon Long/Decca Symphony Orchestra 40:24
14 Porgy's Lament and Finale
Eva Jessye Choir/Todd Duncan/Decca Symphony Orchestra 43:29
In 1926 George Gershwin read Porgy by DuBose Heyward, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, and immediately wrote to the author suggesting that they collaborate on a folk opera based on the novel. In the fall of 1933 Gershwin and Heyward signed a contract with the Theatre Guild to write the opera. In the summer of 1934 Gershwin and Heyward went to Folly Beach, South Carolina, (a small island near Charleston) where Gershwin got a feel for the locale and its music. He worked on the opera there and in New York. Ira Gershwin, in New York, wrote lyrics to some of the opera's classic songs, most notably "It Ain't Necessarily So". Most of the lyrics, including "Summertime", were written by Heyward, who also wrote the libretto
1935 Original Broadway production
Gershwin's first version of the opera, running four hours (counting the two intermissions), was performed privately in a concert version in Carnegie Hall, in the fall of 1935. He chose as his choral director Eva Jessye, who also directed her own renowned choir. The world premiere performance took place at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on September 30, 1935—the try-out for a work intended initially for Broadway where the opening took place at the Alvin Theatre in New York City on October 10, 1935. During rehearsals and in Boston, Gershwin made many cuts and refinements to shorten the running time and tighten the dramatic action. The leading roles were played by Todd Duncan and Anne Brown.
In 1936 during a run in Washington, the cast—as led by Todd Duncan—protested segregation at the National Theatre. Eventually management gave in to the demands, resulting in the first integrated audience for a performance of any show at that venue.