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JJ 'It Ain't Necessarily So' meaning (32) RE: 'It Ain't Necessarily So' meaning 11 Jul 07


After the success of his 1925 novel, Dubose Heyward (and his wife, Dorothy) turned PORGY into a successful play, first produced on 10 October 1927 at the Guild Theatre. Gershwin's idea for turning it into an opera, however, had come from his reading of the novel in 1926.

In 1932, the Theatre Guild approached Heyward with the idea of turning PORGY into the abovementioned blackface musical for Al Jolson, to be written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern. (Rodgers and Hammerstein would not team up for another decade.) But Heyward held out for Gershwin, and thank heavens he did.

I saw the Houston Grand Opera's production of PORGY AND BESS at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia in 1976, and it was very good indeed. I'll never forget Larry Marshall as Sportin' Life singing the last note of "There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York" while sliding down a long curved bannister on his seat -- no hands! -- and hitting the stage just in time to say, "C'mon, Bess." The place went nuts.

But allow me to put in a good word for the 1951 recording, conducted by Lehman Engel with Lawrence Winters and Camilla Williams. It is billed as the first "complete" recording, which it was, but of the standard performing version of the time. (The Houston version, 25 years later, was "more complete.") Many of us first learned the beauties of the entire opera, as opposed to its greatest hits, from these LPs.

The recording was reissued on CD, but seems to be out of print.

I've never seen the movie, and it's been held back from release on home video for some reason or another. Amazon is promising a DVD, but I'll believe it when I see it. Robert McFerrin (father of Bobby McFerrin) sings Porgy and Adele Addison sings Bess.

CARMEN JONES was a Broadway musical before it was a movie, opening on 2 December 1943 at the Broadway and running for 503 performances. It was a very satisfying hit for Oscar Hammerstein II, who adapted Bizet's opera as mentioned above, with Carmen becoming a worker in a parachute factory. In the 1954 film, Belafonte is dubbed by Le Vern Hutcherson (variously spelled) and Dorothy Dandridge by the 19-year-old unknown Marilyn Horne, who developed into one of the great singers of the late 20th century.

The film is readily available on DVD so that you might judge for yourself.


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