Author’s Note: Porgy and Bess can staged as an opera or a musical theatre show. In staging the musical, the action may be slightly condensed, in accordance with Gershwin’s edited version of the show that was performed on Broadway, or other modern adaptations. For the purposes of this guide, Porgy and Bess will be summarized in full, as would be presented in an operatic staging.
It’s a hot summer night in Catfish Row, a small, waterfront tenement in Charleston, South Carolina. Catfish Row’s African-American residents form a tight-knit, hard-working community. Jasbo Brown plays the piano to entertain its’ denizens, who like to let loose after a long day of work. Clara sings a lullaby to her baby boy as they wait for his father to return home from work (“Summertime”).
The men return home from long days of hard work. All are accustomed to long days of hard labor ― most work on fishing boats or in the cotton fields. They gather together to play a game of craps, hoping to win a