PORGY AND BESS Student Guide | Opera Company of Philadelphia

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PORGY AND BESS An American Musical Masterpiece

and The School District of Philadelphia

2006 October 27, 29m, November 1, 3, 5m & 11

2006 November 8, 10, 12m, 15, 17 & 19m

2007 February 9, 11m, 14, 16, 18m & 24

2007 May 2, 4, 6m, 9, 11 & 13m

Season Sponsor

The School District of Philadelphia School Reform Commission James E. Nevels, Chairman Martin G. Bednarek, Sandra Dungee Glenn, James P. Gallagher, Ph.D, Daniel J. Whelan,

Sounds of Learning™ was established by a generous grant from The Annenberg Foundation. Dedicated funding for the Sounds of Learning™ program has been provided by:

$50,000 and above

$5,000 to $9,999

U.S. Department of Education

Alpin J. & Alpin W. Cameron Memorial Trust

member member member member

$20,000 to $49,999

Paul Vallas Chief Executive Officer

Gregory Thornton Chief Academic Officer

Dennis W. Creedon, Ed.D. Administrator, Office of Creative and Performing Arts

Connelly Foundation Glenmede Lincoln Financial Group Foundation

Robert B. Driver General and Artistic Director

David B. Devan

Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Memorial Fund GlaxoSmithKline Hamilton Family Foundation

Managing Director

Michael Bolton Community Programs Manager

Hirsig Family Fund PNC Bank Presser Foundation

The Opera Company of Philadelphia is supported by major grants from The William Penn Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and The Lenfest Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Independence Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The Opera Company of Philadelphia receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

McLean Contributionship Morgan Stanley Foundation Samuel S. Fels Fund

Warwick Foundation

ARAMARK Charitable Fund

Corrado Rovaris Music Director

Barra Foundation

Sheila Fortune Foundation

$10,000 to $19,999 Opera Company of Philadelphia

Bank of America Foundation

Universal Health Services

$1,000 to $4,999 Louis N. Cassett Foundation


A Family Guide to

Pennsylvania’s standards in education call for students to show what they know and are able to do. As every parent knows, children need to share what they have discovered or learned. Thus, the title of our program is Sounds of Learning™. It reflects our belief that children must be actively engaged in sharing ideas, which reflects the collaborative learning that has been called for by the U.S. Department of Labor. For the future success of our research and development teams, today’s students must learn to work collaboratively using creative problem-solving techniques. This was further highlighted by Professor Richard Florida of Carnegie Mellon University. He noted that 30% of the U.S. work force is directly involved with some level of creative engagements in their work. His June 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, was published by Basic Books. His work supported the U.S. Governors report that was released in spring of 2002. This report called for arts education in all schools since it has been directly tied to the economic development of urban areas. With the Sounds of Learning™ program we strive to support the creative needs of our youth while we also support the core literacy goals of our community. This book will integrate with the local core curriculum in literacy in many ways. Just as opera is a uniquely integrated art, combining orchestra, voice, literature, drama, and dance, the Sounds of Learning™ program is an interdisciplinary and student-centered program. The goal of Active Learning is to have your children engaged in the process of self-teaching. They will be able to show how they have gained insights into their learning by drawing, writing, charting, and discussing the issues most relevant to them. In this way, students demonstrate what they can do with what they know. We believe the family is the most important foundation to learning. Let your kitchen table become a classroom where your children can build their knowledge of opera and the humanities. As you join in the teaching and learning process with your children, watch their eyes sparkle. Opera is a communal celebration, so too should be your children’s education. In reading the libretto, we suggest that your family members take turns reading particular roles. This adds a dimension of fun to the reading of this great literature. Recent research by Dr. Ellen Winner of Harvard’s Project Zero found that “drama helps to build verbal skills that transfer to new materials.” She found that acting out texts helps students in “reading readiness and achievement” and “oral and written language development.” (Journal of Aesthetic Education, v34, #3/4, Fall/Winter, 2000.) In preparing for the opera, we suggest you purchase one of EMI’s excellent recordings of this opera. We are grateful to EMI for offering us their libretti for use in our program. Together, we hope to build future audiences for, and performers of, the arts.

Best Practices in Arts Education is sponsored by Pennsylvania Alliance for Arts Education, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Table of Contents Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera 4 7 8 11 12 14 15

Angela Brown and Gregg Baker sing the title roles of Porgy and Bess in Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2007 production of Porgy and Bess.

A Brief History of Western Opera A Time of Revolution in the Arts: The Harlem Renaissance The Proud Legacy of African-American Opera Singers Game: Connect the Opera Terms Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Broad Street: Avenue of the Arts Opera Etiquette 101

Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection 16 18 19 20 21 22 24

George Gershwin: A Man of Jazz Gershwin Timeline Make Your Own Timeline Why I Like Opera by Jordan Palmer The History of Porgy Before Bess Jim Crow and Porgy and Bess Game: Porgy and Bess Crossword Puzzle

Porgy and Bess: Libretto and Production Information 26 27 28 29 30

Meet the Artists Introducing Karen Slack Porgy and Bess: Synopsis Acting the LIBRETTO Porgy and Bess LIBRETTO

60 62 64 65 66 67

So You Want to Sing Like an Opera Singer The Highs and Lows of the Operatic Voice Life in the Opera Chorus: Julie-Ann Green Life in the Pit: The Xylophone The Subtle Art of Costume Design Careers in the Arts

68 69 70 72 73 74 75

Conflicts and Loves in Porgy and Bess Etymology and Word Comparison in Other Languages Produce Your Own Opera! 2006-2007 Season Subscriptions Invest in Grand Opera! Game: Operatic Libs: The Picnic on Kittiwah Island Sounds of Learning™ on the Web

Behind the Scenes




State Standards


State Standards Met


A Brief History of


Western Opera Theatrical performances that use music, song and dance to tell a story can be found in many cultures. Opera is just one example of music drama. In its 400-year history opera has been shaped by the times in which it was created and tells us much about those who participated in the art form as writers, composers, performers, and audience members. The first works to be called “operas” were created in Italy at the end of the sixteenth century. They were inspired by a group of intellectuals known as the Camerata who admired the culture of the ancient Greeks. They proposed the invention of a new style of music theater that would imitate Greek drama’s use of music. The result was a series of operas based on Greek myths, starting with Dafne by Jacopo Peri in 1598. The most famous work of this early period is Claudio Monteverdi’s Orfeo (1607), based on the myth of Orpheus. These early operas had all the basic elements that we associate with opera today: songs, instrumental accompaniments, dance, costumes, and scenery. These early operas were performed in the courts of Italian noblemen, but soon opera became popular with the general public. Europe had a growing middle class with a taste for spectacular entertainment. During the Baroque period (1600 1750), the Italian style of opera was so popular that it became the preferred form even in foreign countries. George Frideric Handel was a Germanborn composer who lived and worked in England, but his operas such as Julius Caesar (1724) were in the Italian language and in the Italian style. The only nation to develop a national tradition to rival the Italian was France, where operas often included ballets. Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau are the most famous French Baroque opera composers. By the middle of the eighteenth century the European middle class was more influential than ever. People spoke of new forms of government and organization in society. Soon the American and French Revolutions (1776 and 1789) fought to establish the first modern democracies.

Music was changing, too. Composers abandoned the ornate Baroque style of music and began Claudio Monteverdi to write less complicated music 1567-1643 that expressed the character’s thoughts and feelings more believably. One of the first operas to use this new style was Cristoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice (1762). With the new democratic sentiments came interest in operas about common people in familiar settings, rather than stories from ancient mythology. A good example is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786), in which a servant outsmarts a count. Several of Mozart’s operas remain among the most popular today, including Figaro, Don Giovanni (1788), Così fan tutte (1790), and The Magic Flute (1791). In the nineteenth century operas continued to grow more diverse in their forms and national styles. The Italian tradition continued in the bel canto movement. Operas written in this style, which means “beautiful singing,” included arias with intricate ornamentation, or combinations of fast notes, in the melodies. The most famous composers of bel canto are Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and Gioacchino Rossini, whose The Barber of Seville (1816) is one of the most beloved comic operas.

Later in the century the Romantic Movement grew throughout Europe as operas celebrated national pride in a country’s people, history and folklore. Among the operas that showed the growth of patriotic traditions are Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz (Germany, 1821), Mikhail Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmilla (Russia, 1842) and Georges Bizet’s Carmen (France, 1875). In Italy Giuseppe Verdi composed in a bold, direct style. In Germany Richard Wagner took the Romantic style to the extreme in an ambitious series of four operas based on Norse mythology known collectively as The Ring of the Nibelungs (1876). In the twentieth century opera became more experimental. Some composers such as Giacomo Puccini (La bohème, 1896), Claude Debussy (Pélleas and Mélisande, 1902), Richard Strauss (Salome, 1905), and Benjamin Britten (Peter Grimes, 1945) continued their nationalistic styles. Others, horrified by the destructive effects of World War I (1914-1919) and modern life, created radically experimental and dissonant works that explored topics that were disturbing (Wozzeck by Alban Berg, 1925) or absurdist (The Rake’s Progress by Igor Stravinsky, 1951). American opera came into its own in this century, beginning with George Gershwin’s jazz-influenced opera Porgy and Bess (1935). In the latter part of the century a repetitive and hypnotic style known as minimalism was championed in Phillip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (1976). The late twentieth century even saw a return to some of the traits of Romantic opera in works such as John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles (1991). Today, opera is a living art form in which both new works and those by composers of the past continue to be performed. It remains to be seen what the future of opera will be, but if history is any indication, it will be shaped by the creativity of librettists, composers and other artists responding to the changing times in which they live.

Bass Kevin Glavin gets a close shave from baritone Roberto DeCandia in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville.


A tense scene from Act II of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. (l-r: bass Richard Bernstein, baritone Simone Alberghini and sopranos Christine Brandes and Mary Dunleavy.)

A Brief History of American Opera Perhaps when we think of opera, we often think of singers in exotic costumes singing in languages other than English. Although operas in English have been performed in our country since colonial times, they have mostly been overshadowed by the operas of such European composers as Verdi, Puccini, Gounod, and Wagner. American composers first imitated European styles of opera, then struggled to find their own American voice, and finally became trend setters by creating new operatic styles. The first operas performed in the colonies during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were ballad operas: light-hearted plays from Great Britain with songs in a popular style. They often poked fun at current events and authority figures. The earliest known ballad opera to be performed in the colonies was Colley Cibber’s Flora in 1737. In the nineteenth century, many of the most popular operas from Europe were performed in the United States, usually translated into English. Their popularity was partly a result of growing numbers of European immigrants, including those from Italy and Germany. Rossini’s Cinderella was perhaps the most popular opera in American. By this time, Americans had begun to write their own operas. One of the first examples is William Henry Fry’s Leonora (1845). George Frederick Bristow’s Rip Van Winkle (1855), is a rare example of an opera from this period with an American setting.


American opera finally developed its own identity in the twentieth century. Around the time of World War I (19141919), American composers began to create a recognizable American style in classical music. In the 1930’s, some important steps forward were taken. Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts (1934), with a libretto by the poet Gertrude Stein, successfully blended the style of American hymns and folk songs with the operatic form. This was followed in 1935 by George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess which brought a vital and distinctly American musical style to the opera, by using jazz and Broadway sounds as inspiration. American opera flourished after World War II (19391945). Several of the most-performed American operas are from this period and include Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors (1951, the first opera written for television), and Samuel Barber’s Vanessa (1958). Responding to the hypocrisy and blacklisting of the McCarthy era, composer Carlisle Floyd wrote his first opera, Susannah (1954). By using the Bible story of Susannah and the Elders, Floyd brilliantly criticized McCarthy’s corrupt anti-Communism policies in this tale of a young woman ostracized by her community in Appalachia.

Mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and baritone Gregg Baker in Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2006 production of Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner.

In the late twentieth century, the United States had become a center of innovation in music. American opera was often at the forefront of new trends. In 1976, Einstein on the Beach by Philip Glass shattered traditional opera conventions by setting nonsense syllables to music and dispensing with any kind of definite story. Contemporary and American themes are important in this and other recent operas, such as John Adams’ Nixon in China (1987). There has been a recent renaissance in American opera with such works as Andre Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire (1995), Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (2000) and The End of the Affair (2004), Richard Danielpour and Toni Morrison’s Margaret Garner (2005), John Adams’ Dr. Atomic (2005), and Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel (2006). These works have tended to rely on literary or theatrical sources for inspiration. Musically, most have moved away from the repetitious minimalist style into a more romantic and melodic style of writing. American opera includes both works that are highly experimental and those that combine modern techniques with a traditional emphasis on melody. This diversity contributes to the United States’ continuing influence on the international world of opera.

A Time of Revolution in the Arts:

The Harlem Renaissance In the early 1900s several generations of African-Americans had experienced life in freedom thanks to emancipation. In the early decades of that century, particularly in the period just after World War I (1918) and the beginning of the Great Depression (1929), African-Americans began to explore and celebrate their collective experience and heritage while challenging the political status quo through literature, art, music, dance, and social commentary during what was known as the Harlem Renaissance. Since the turn of the century there had been a great exodus of African-Americans from the South as thousands moved to Northern industrial areas like Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and New York City in search of a new life. Long denied their rights in the South, the former southerners now had access to better education and employment opportunities than they could have had in the South. Many of the travelers settled in New York City’s growing and successful Harlem neighborhood. The district soon became an intellectual center for a new awareness and pride in AfricanAmerican culture and expression. It reawakened cultural spirit that couldn’t be expressed during slavery. Artists, musicians, and especially writers responded to the charged atmosphere and created an overflowing collection of works celebrating the African-American experience. Suddenly AfricanAmericans had found their voice, and people were listening. These new works attracted the attention of the entire nation; never before had so many Americans read the thoughts of African-Americans in newspapers, journals, magazines, books, and poetry anthologies. They were struck by the authors’ profound writing and the beauty of their message. The movement had specific goals. Black authors cried out against injustice and racial discrimination, neighborhood racial segregation, and employment inequality. These protestations caused race riots to break out in many cities. The other major goal was even more important: to rebuild the esteem of blacks in postbellum America. A positive expression of pride in the African-American culture was promoted by activists, authors, and in AfricanAmerican newspapers as the movement tried to unify the community.

The Harlem Renaissance, also known as The Black Renaissance and The New Negro Movement, produced some of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, including Arna Bontemps, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, and Jean Toomer. Perhaps the most important of these writers was Langston Hughes, nicknamed the Poet Laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes’ poetry such as “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and “Mother to Son” beautifully detailed life in the African-American community. Not just a literary movement, the Harlem Renaissance produced famous visual artists like Aaron Douglas, Palmer Hayden, Malvin G. Johnson, William H. Johnson, Archibald J. Motley Jr., and Augusta Savage. Music played an important part in the renaissance as well. Jazz music flourished from New Orleans to New York City. Important musicians like Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Fletcher Henderson, and vaudeville blues singers Gertrude “Ma” Rainey and Bessie Smith rose to prominence at that time, performing for both black and white audiences. The Harlem Renaissance transformed AfricanAmerican culture, identity and history during a period of African-American migration from the South. The movement sought to revitalize black culture though pride. In political life, literature, music, visual art, and other cultural areas, AfricanAmericans in the 1920s collectively worked to instill that sense of dignity when mainstream American culture treated them as second-class citizens.

Active Learning 1. For more information on the Harlem Renaissance and Langston Hughes, visit our website at www.operaphilly.com/education/sol_porgy.shtml

2. Review some of Langston Hughes’ poems and discuss the impact of these poems with your class.


The Proud Legacy of


African-American Opera Singers Marian Anderson (February 27, 1897- April 8, 1993) was born in Philadelphia on Webster Street. She grew up on Colorado and Fitzwater Streets and attended South Philadelphia High School for Girls. She also attended the Union Baptist Church at 12th and Fitzwater Streets. Her father was a salesman at the Reading Terminal Market and her mother worked as a laundress. After Marian’s father passed away, her mother raised her and her two sisters on her own. Marian’s unique abilities were noted at an early age and she began her formal music studies at 15. She studied with Giuseppe Boghetti and Frank LaForge. In the winter of 1925, Marian entered the talent auditions for the Lewisohn Stadium Concerts of the City College of New York. These concerts were an integral part of New York City’s cultural life. She won first place over 360 other contestants with her rendition of “O mio Fernando” from Gaetano Donizetti’s La Favorita. On August 26, 1925, she sang with the New York Philharmonic. Marian brought the house down with her breath-taking trill at the end of the same aria.

Marian Anderson as Ulrica in Verdi’s A Masked Ball. Courtesy, Metropolitan Opera Archives.

Racism prevented Marian from advancing her career in America. As a result, she went to Europe where the walls of segregation were not as difficult to surmount. She made her London debut in 1930 and won accolades from the preeminent conductor Arturo Toscanini who said that a voice like yours “is heard once in a hundred years.” In 1935 Marian was back in the United States and made her Carnegie Hall debut at Town Hall. In 1939, Marian was scheduled to sing at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. The hall was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution and they did not permit African Americans to perform there. First Lady Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership with the organization as a result of this insult. Another concert was organized for Marian on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before a throng of 75,000. Marian sang a program of six selections including “America” and “O mio Fernando.” A mural of the event is on the walls of the Department of the Interior in Washington. At its dedication, Secretary Harold L. Ickes said, “Her voice and personality have come to be a symbol – a symbol of the willing acceptance of the immortal truth that ‘all men are created free and equal’.” Later that spring, President and Mrs. Roosevelt invited Marian to come to the While House and sing for King George VI and his wife, the parents of the current Queen Elizabeth II of England. Afterward, Marian and Mrs. Roosevelt became good friends. Sixteen years later, in 1955, a major wall of segregation fell in the operatic world. At the age of 58 Marian became the first African-American to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She sang the role of Ulrica in Verdi’s A Masked Ball. In 1958 she was officially designated a delegate to the United Nations as a “goodwill ambassador” of the United States. In 1972 she was awarded the United Nations’ Peace Prize. In her musical way, Marian embodied the words, “We Shall Overcome!” As a gift to all of us, she did.

Paul Robeson was born in Princeton, New Jersey on April 9, 1898. His father, who had been a slave, was a minister and taught Paul perfect diction. Paul won a scholarship to Rutgers University and was a brilliant student. He was also chosen for the All-American football team twice. After college, Paul went to Columbia University where he earned a law Philadelphia singer and actor degree. While he was Paul Robeson. attending law school he began to act. Upon graduation from school, he found that the major law firms would not hire a black man. Paul turned to his second passion, acting, and was selected by Eugene O’Neill for his All God’s Chillun Got Wings and The Emperor Jones. In 1925, Paul began a second career as a singer. He gave many concerts in his rich bass-baritone voice. He sang many popular styles for his day: spirituals, work songs, and folk tunes. As his love of singing grew, Paul learned twenty languages. Even though he was recognized as a great singer and actor, Paul could not find work because of the racial discrimination that existed in the United States. As a result, he traveled to Europe where he worked from 1928 to 1939. In 1934, he visited the Soviet Union and was impressed by the anti-racist beliefs of the Communist Party. 1936 Paul went to Hollywood to play the role of Joe in the film version of the Jerome Kern Broadway musical Show Boat. Paul performed for the anti-fascist fighters in Spain between 1936 and 1937. In 1943, during World War II, Paul performed Shakespeare’s Othello in New York City and was very successful in Earl Robinson’s and John Latouche’s Ballad for Americans. However, after the war Paul’s visit to Russia came back to haunt him. His career was destroyed by the Cold War and his concerts were broken up by anti-Communists. In 1950, he lost his passport until the United States Supreme Court ordered it returned in 1958. He gave a farewell concert at Carnegie Hall and left for Europe. However, Paul’s health began to fail, and in 1963 he returned to live out his last days in Philadelphia. He died in our city on January 23, 1976 as a great artist who fought the good fight against racism and discrimination.

African-American Voices Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson were two pioneers in the journey of African-American singers’ struggle to have their voices acknowledged. Here is a brief list of noted African-American opera singers who came before and after them, all equally important to the heritage of African-American classical singers. They have brought their distinctive artistry to operatic stages throughout the world. For more information on some of these singers, log on to www.operaphilly.com/education/sol_porgy.shtml. Donnie Ray Albert, baritone Roberta Alexander, soprano Betty Allen, mezzo-soprano Marian Anderson, contralto Martina Arroyo, soprano Gregg Baker, baritone Carmen Balthrop, soprano Kathleen Battle, soprano Jules Bledsoe, baritone Edward Boatner, baritone Angela M. Brown, soprano Ann Brown, soprano Uzee Brown, Jr., baritone Lawrence Brownlee, tenor Grace Bumbry, soprano Harry T. Burleigh, baritone Vinson Cole, tenor Steven Cole, tenor Barbara Conrad, mezzo-soprano Terry Cook, bass Michelle Crider, soprano Clamma Dale, soprano Lisa Daltirus, soprano Kishna Davis, soprano Gloria Davy, soprano Mattiwilda Dobbs, soprano Mark S. Doss, bass Todd Duncan, baritone Ruby Elzy, soprano Simon Estes, baritone Maria Ewing, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano Eric Greene, baritone Reri Grist, soprano Gordon Hawkins, baritone

Roland Hayes, tenor Barbara Hendricks, soprano Bruce Hubbard, baritone Sissieretta Jones, soprano Isola Jones, mezzo-soprano Tracie Luck, mezzo-soprano Lester Lynch, baritone Marvis Martin, soprano Dorothy Maynor, soprano Robert McFerrin, baritone Leona Mitchell, soprano Latonia Moore, soprano Jessye Norman, soprano Eric Owens, bass Eugene Perry, baritone Herbert Perry, baritone Leontyne Price, soprano Florence Quivar, mezzo-soprano Derek Lee Ragin, countertenor Paul Robeson, baritone Faye Robinson, soprano Morris Robinson, bass Mark Rucker, baritone George Shirley, tenor Kevin Short, bass-baritone Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano Karen Slack, soprano Kenneth Tarver, tenor Tichina Vaughan, mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett, soprano William Warfield, baritone Felicia Weathers, soprano Lawrence Winters, baritone Arthur Woodley, bass


Profiles of Internationally-Renown African-American Singers Sissieretta Jones, soprano (born Matilda S. Joyner) 1869 Birthplace: Portsmouth, Virginia • Critically acclaimed for her voice called “ one in a million” • In 1894, first African-American to perform a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in NYC • Performed at the White House for three different U.S. Presidents, at Madison Square Garden (1892) and the Chicago World’s Fair (1893)

George Shirley, tenor

Courtesy University of Michigan

1934 Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana • First African-American tenor to sing at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC • Drafted into the US Army in 1955 he became the first African-American member of the U.S. Army Chorus • Has made numerous recordings, receiving a Grammy Award in 1968

Grace Bumbry, soprano Henry Burleigh, baritone 1866 Birthplace: Erie, Pennsylvania • Wrote between two hundred and three hundred songs • Worked to preserve and pass on slaves’ songs to the finest musicians • Encouraged the careers of Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson

1937 Birthplace: Saint Louis, Missouri • First African-American woman to sing at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany in 1961 • Sang at the White House for Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962 • Honored on the Saint Louis Walk of Fame

Simon Estes, bass-baritone Roland Hayes, tenor and composer

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-USZ62-54231

1887 Birthplace: Curryville, Georgia • Parents were ex-slaves • Gave command performance at Constitution Hall in 1931 and demanded the hall be desegregated before performance began. Because of this Constitution Hall decides to ban African Americans. • Extremely successful career as a concert performer with orchestras and in recital

Robert McFerrin, baritone

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-USZ62-114417

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-USZ62-114417

1921 Birthplace: Marianna, Arkansas • Performed extensively on opera and musical stages from 1949 to 1959 • In 1955 was the first African-American male to sing a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC • Father of Bobby McFerrin, Grammy Award-winning singer/composer

Leontyne Price, soprano 1927 Birthplace: Laurel, Mississippi • First African-American chosen to sing in a televised opera production in 1955 • First African-American to sing a major role at La Scala Opera House in Italy in 1960 • Received a forty-two minute ovation after her Metropolitan Opera début as Leonora in Il Trovatore in 1961 • Was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 Shirley Verrett, soprano 1933 Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana • Has sung regularly to raise funds for AIDS research • A life member of NAACP • Served on two White House commissions to preserve American Antiquity

Courtesy University of Michigan

1938 Birthplace: Centerville, Ohio • Has sung over one hundred leading operatic roles including Porgy in Porgy and Bess • In 1975 was the first African-American male to sing a leading role at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany • Has helped talented youth through his Simon Estes Foundation which provides scholarships

Jessye Norman, soprano 1945 Birthplace: Augusta, Georgia • At age sixteen won a full scholarship to Howard University • Awarded the Kennedy Center Honor in 1997 • Was the inspiration for the French film Diva • Has sung at two Presidential Inaugurations, 1996 Olympics, and before Queen Elizabeth II

Vinson Cole, tenor 1950 Birthplace: Kansas City,Missouri • Studied music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, PA • Won the Metropolitan Opera auditions in 1977 and went on to have a major career while still in his twenties • Recognized as one of the leading artists of his generation

Denyce Graves, mezzo-soprano 1963 Birthplace: Washington, DC • Grew up in the projects of Washington, DC • Invited by President Bush to perform at the Washington National Cathedral memorial service for the victims of 9/11 • Named by Ebony Magazine as one of the “50 Leaders of Tomorrow” • Appears regularly with Opera Company of Philadelphia.

Connect the

Opera Terms



Opera Seria


Dance spectacle set to music.




Highest pitched woman’s voice.




Dramatic text adapted for opera.




Low female voice.




Comic opera.





A drama or comedy in which music is the essential factor; very little is spoken.




Opera with dramatic and intense plots.




Music composed for a singing group.



A composition written for two performers.


A group of musicians who play together on various musical instruments.

12. Contralto


Highest pitched man’s voice.

13. Tenor


A musical style used in opera and oratorio, in which the text is declaimed in the rhythm of natural speech with slight melodic variation.

10. Chorus 11. Act

14. Opera Buffa 15. Recitative

M. Male voice between bass and tenor.

16. Bass


A piece of music originally designed to be played before an opera or musical play.


The term describing the realistic or naturalistic school of opera that flourished briefly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; libretti were chosen to depict a ‘slice of life’.


Deepest male voice.


Elaborate solo in an opera or oratorio.


Main division of a play or opera.



18. Verismo



Academy of Music

Few Philadelphians know that the great Academy of Music was dedicated to the memory of Mozart. As the guests enter the Opera House’s main hall, there above the proscenium arch, over the Academy stage, a bas-relief of Mozart looks down upon the audience. This place of prominence for Mozart indicates that the builders of the Academy expected to attract the finest performing arts known to the world. However, building this Opera House was not an easy task for the young country. Between 1837 and 1852 there were five attempts to raise the funds needed to build an Opera House within the city limits of Philadelphia. After Commissioners were appointed by an act of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Charles Henry Fisher began to sell stock in the Academy of Music on May 24, 1852. On October 13, 1854, the land on the southwest corner of Broad and Locust Streets was purchased. At that time, the area was undeveloped. (The Old State House, now known as Independence Hall, was the heart of the city at that time.)

The Commissioners held a competition to select the design of the Academy. Fifteen architects submitted designs between October 3 and December 15 of 1854. The winners were announced on February 12, 1855. Gustav Rungé and Napoleon le Brun won the $400 prize. It was their idea to dedicate the Academy to Mozart’s memory. Within four months the ground-breaking took place. This project was so important that President Franklin Pierce, along with Governor James Pollock and Mayor Robert T. Conrad, laid the cornerstone on July 26, 1855. On January 26, 1857, the Academy held the Grand Ball and Promenade Concert of its opening. The first opera presented in the brand new opera house was Verdi’s Il trovatore on February 25, 1857. Gounod’s opera Faust had its American premiere here on November 18, 1863. On February 14, 1907, Madama Butterfly premiered to “emphatic success” with its composer, Giacomo Puccini, in attendance. On May 14, 1897, John Philip Sousa’s composition “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was premiered on the Academy stage. On March 29 and April 5, 1900, Fritz Scheel conducted two serious concerts of professional musicians. These two concerts are considered the genesis of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Today the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Ballet call the Academy home. Numerous presidents have visited the Academy, including Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon. The Academy has had many world-famous performers on its stage: Peter Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Richard Strauss, Igor Stravinsky, Anna Pavlova, George Gershwin, Arturo Toscanini, Marian Anderson, Maria Callas, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, and thousands more

Historic images of the Academy courtesy of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

The Academy was made a Registered National Historic Landmark in 1963. Since then, a few changes have been made to the structure. In 1996 the “Twenty-First Century Project” began, which allowed for a new rigging system, replacement of the stage floor, and cleaning and restoration of the historic ceiling. With Mozart’s image looking down on the Academy’s audiences from his position above the stage for over one hundred years, let the joy of opera and dance continue forever.


Academy Facts 2 Built in 1857, The Academy of Music is the oldest grand opera house in the United States used for its initial purpose. 2 In 1963, The Academy was honored as a National Historic Landmark. As a National Historic Landmark, live flame can never be produced on the stage. 2 The auditorium seats 2,897; 14 columns support the Academy’s tiers; and the auditorium is encased within a three foot-thick solid brick wall. 2 The Academy of Music chandelier is 50 feet in circumference, 16 feet in diameter, and 5,000 pounds in weight. It is lowered once a year for cleaning. It used to take four hours and 12 men to hand lower the chandelier. Now it takes five minutes, thanks to an electric-powered winch. 2 The red and gold pattern on the Academy’s stage curtain simulates that of a pineapple, a Victorian-era symbol for “welcome.” 2 The Academy of Music has an expandable orchestra pit to accommodate works with larger orchestral requirements. The first two rows of seats on the Parquet level are on a platform which can be removed to enlarge the pit. The decorative brass and wooden orchestra pit railing can also be moved to ornament the expanded pit as well.

2 In the 1800’s, an artificial floor was placed over the Parquet level seats for balls, political conventions, gymnastic and ice skating expositions, carnivals, parades, and other events. You’ll see a wooden guide along the edge of the Parquet wall that helped support the floor. 2 The first-ever indoor football game was held on the Academy’s Parquet level on March 7, 1889 between University of Pennsylvania and Riverton Club of Princeton. At halftime, tug-of-war matches were held as entertainment. A motion picture was first screened at the Academy on February 5, 1870. The silent movie consisted of an oratory, an acrobatic performance by a popular Japanese gymnast, and a waltz danced by the presenter, Henry H. Heyl and his sister. 1,600 people attended.


2 There were talks underway to turn the Academy of Music into a movie theater in 1920. 2 Starting in 1884, electricity was used to light the large chandelier (originally lit by 240 gas burners), the auditorium, and stage lights. New regenerative gas lights were placed along the exterior walls on both Broad and Locust streets. 2

Incandescent electric lighting was introduced to the foyer and balcony in 1892.


Air conditioning was installed in the theatre 1959.

2 There was no elevator for the general public in the Academy until 1990! For more information on the Academy of Music, go to the library and take out Within These Walls, by John Francis Marion or go online to www.academyofmusic.org.

Broad Street:


Avenue of the Arts Here is part of a map of Center City. This area, which includes Broad Street south of City Hall, is the home of many famous theaters, museums, hotels, restaurants and cultural centers. Here are some descriptions of the attractions around the Academy of Music. See if you can match them to the lettered flags on the map.

_____ The Kimmel Center Dance, orchestra, chamber and folk music

_____ Prince Music Theater Contemporary music, musicals and blues

_____ Merriam Theater Theater and broadway musicals

_____ University of the Arts Art and Design School

_____ Wilma Theater Modern theater and musicals

_____ Ritz Carlton Hotel World famous 5-star hotel and restaurant


The Academy of Music is marked on this map with a picture. What is its address? _______________________________________


How many blocks is it from City Hall to the Academy?



All but one of the East to West streets on this map have names that have something in common? What is it? _______________________________________

For more information about this exciting part of the city, visit: www.avenueofthearts.org/visit.htm.

4. You and your friends are planning a night on the town. You will hear a lecture about famous artists, see the Broadway musical The Lion King and scout celebrities at a fancy restaurant. Where do you go? _______________________________________ _______________________________________ _______________________________________

Opera Etiquette101


Attending the Opera There’s nothing quite as exciting as attending the opera in a beautiful theater like the Academy of Music! If this is your first time at the opera there are a few things for which you should prepare: You will be attending the final dress rehearsal for this opera. This is the last opportunity that the artists will have to rehearse the entire opera before opening night just a few nights away. The goal is to treat this rehearsal exactly like a performance and perform the entire opera straight through without a pause. You may notice in the center of the Parquet level, the floor level of the Academy, several computer monitors and a large table spread out over the seats. Seated in this area is the production team: Director, Assistant Director, Costume Designer, Lighting Designer, Set Designer, and other members of the production team. They’ll be taking notes and communicating via headset with the myriad people backstage who help make all of the operatic magic happen: Stage Manager, Master Carpenter, lighting technicians, Supertitle Operator, Stagehands and more. They’ll be able to give notes so changes can be instantly made. Should things go awry, they may stop and repeat a section to make sure that it is perfect.

Opera Etiquette Because this is a working rehearsal, we ask that you please refrain from talking. The production team needs to concentrate on fine-tuning the production. You can show them how much you appreciate their work and the opportunity to come to the rehearsal at no charge by being as quiet as possible. Have you ever tried to study for a test and there’s just too much noise at home or outside? It’s almost impossible to concentrate! So, please refrain from talking out of respect for the cast, musicians, and the entire production team.

The Holland Homeschool is prepared for the Sounds of Learning™ Dress Rehearsal of La bohème.

Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts so that everyone in the theater can enjoy the opera:

Please Do... Applaud after the arias; you can shout “Bravo!” for the men and “Brava!” for the women. Enter and exit the theater in an orderly fashion. Please use the bathrooms before the rehearsal begins or at intermission. Be careful in the auditorium! Because the theatre is 150 years old, it’s not necessarily designed for modern conveniences. Turn off your cell phones and all electronic devices. Enjoy the rehearsal. You’ve worked too hard learning this not to!

Don’t Forget... Food and beverages are not allowed inside the Academy of Music. Photographs may not be taken during the performance. Please no talking during the performances.

George Gershwin:


A Man of Jazz September 26, 1898. The doctor misspelled Morris’ new last name on his son’s birth certificate. It was now spelled Gershwine. When George became a man he dropped the last “e” on his name so that it read Gershwin. George grew up in a lively atmosphere. His father moved the family often as he tried his hand at many kinds of businesses. His mother Rose was always able to entertain family and friends from Eastern Europe. George and Ira’s home was filled with vaudeville-like Yiddish theatre performers. This background did well to fill the minds of the children with a foundation for future success as Broadway songwriters. When George was twelve years old, his parents bought a used piano for his older brother Ira. George promptly sat right down and played a tune on the battered instrument. His parents almost immediately consented to George getting lessons, too.

Like George Gershwin’s family, the ancestors of many great American composers fled pogroms against Jews in Eastern Europe. These include Irving Berlin, Aaron Copland, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein. It was this fear of continued violence against the Jewish people and Morris Gershovitz’s love for a young lady that led Morris to emigrate to the United States. He came in search of safety and love. Morris had fallen in love with Rose when they both lived in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her father had taken her and the rest of his family to America. Now Morris was in America looking for his sweetheart. Having found her in Brooklyn, he and Rose were married in 1895. Soon, they set themselves to become as American as they could while retaining their Jewish heritage. Morris changed his last name to Gershvin. And his first son was named Israel but called Ira by the family. Their second son was named Jacob but was called George. He was born on

George grew up on New York’s Lower East Side, with a lively interest in the music of Tin Pan Alley. He worked as a song-plugger (demonstrator) in sheet music stores in his neighborhood. He rounded out his early musical education by taking lessons in composition. He might have gone on to a conservatory for intense “classical” training, but he had in mind a direction in which jazz was the key. He regarded jazz as America’s folk music and believed it could be the basis of “serious” symphonic works. He once said he wanted to “make a lady out of jazz.” While teenagers, Gershwin and struggling dancer Fred Astaire fantasized that one day the dancer would star in a Gershwin musical. When Gershwin’s Lady Be Good opened on Broadway, Astaire and his sister Adele were the leads. His first published song (1916) was “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em,” for which he earned five dollars. The first collaboration with brother Ira was “The Real American Folk Song is a Rag.” In 1919 he wrote his first musical comedy score, La La Lucille, and his first hit, “Swanee,” became Al Jolson’s signature song. In the 1920’s, he wrote many of the songs which have come to be identified with him: “Somebody Loves Me,” “Oh, Lady Be Good,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “ ‘S Wonderful,” and “The Man I Love.”

In these show tunes we encounter the distinctive profile of a Gershwin song: fresh, easy lyrics (written by his brother Ira), rhythms which parallel the lyrics, distinctive harmony, and sudden changes in tempo where least expected. He sought at all times to transcend the limitations of the stereotyped and established commercial forms. Ira’s unconventional word patterns, together with George’s music, created a sophisticated type of popular song previously unheard. This new song style caught the pulse of life in the 1920’s. A distinctive characteristic of the Gershwin songs is that they celebrate love — lost, found, longed for, and even disposed. Gershwin slowly began experimenting with orchestral music. His first major effort was Rhapsody in Blue introduced by bandleader Paul Whiteman on February 12, 1924. Whiteman, like Gershwin, was a pioneer in the movement which sought to make jazz respectable and a part of the musical mainstream. The success of Rhapsody was followed by Piano Concerto in F, which premiered at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1925. These two works brought Gershwin international fame. The European premiere of the Concerto took place in 1928 at the Paris Opera; it was a resounding success. The year 1928 also saw the premiere of his great symphonic poem, An American in Paris. In this piece, he sought to portray the impressions of an American visitor as he strolls through the city. He described the music as more suited to ballet than symphony and admitted that it was the most modern music he had ever attempted. It is animated, lively, and restless, with elements of jazz, blues, and the famous French dance known as the can-can. Gershwin’s 1931 political satire musical, Of Thee I Sing, was one of only four Depression-era musicals to pass the 400 performance mark on Broadway. It won the Pulitzer Prize as best play of the year and is still regarded as the first significant musical comedy produced in the United States. The show’s hit songs included “Love is Sweeping the Country.” In March 1933 Gershwin visited Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and delighted a capacity audience by playing his Piano Concerto in F, plus several of his hit tunes as part of an evening of symphonic music. His playing of the Rhapsody in Blue received the most sustained ovation of the evening.

George’s biggest success was his opera Porgy and Bess, which opened in 1935, first in Boston and then in New York. He moved to Hollywood in 1937 where he was offered contracts to write the scores of several movies. George was not happy on the west coast. In New York City he was a famous composer, but in Hollywood he was seen as just another songsmith. He and Ira went to work writing the music to the film, A Damsel in Distress. It had some of the finest songs they ever wrote. It included: “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” “Lady Be Good,” and “A Foggy Day.” It was during this time that he met the actress Paulette Goddard and fell in love with her. But she was married to one of the most important stars of Hollywood, Charlie Chaplin. While they spent much time together, she would not leave her husband. As Gershwin realized that he was not going to have the hand of the one woman he had asked to marry him, he began to become irritable. He told Ira that once their contracts in Hollywood were finished, he was moving back to New York. But this was not to happen. Gershwin was suffering from severe headaches and dizzy spells and often complained that he could smell burning rubber. After many doctor visits, there was still no clear reason for his headaches. Only after he collapsed did they rush him to a hospital. In surgery, it was discovered that he had a severe brain tumor. He died that day, Sunday, July 11, 1937. The simplicity and grace of his music live on, his genius seldom matched and hardly surpassed. He and his brother Ira have become inseparable, their music and lyrics intertwined in America’s musical legacy.

Active Learning 1. What were the progroms and why were they historically important?

2. Listen to Gershwin’s American in Paris. How does his music reflect an American visitor strolling the streets of Paris?


Gershwin Timeline


1898 1910 1914 1916 1919

Born September 26 in Brooklyn, New York. Begins piano lessons. Leaves high school to work as a song plugger on Tin Pan Alley.

Timeline Below you will find a number of important dates about people and events that happened during Gershwin’s lifetime. Compare the events below with the events in Gershwin’s life to get a comprehensive picture of whatlife was like at that time.

First published song, “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em.”

This information was taken from Timelines of History at http://timelines.ws. For a more complete list of events, log onto our website at www.operaphilly.com/education/sol_porgy.shtml.

First hit song, “Swanee,” lyrics by Irving Caesar. First Broadway musical comedy score, La La Lucille. String quartet piece, “Lullaby,” first work for instrument other than piano.


January 1 June 26

The First Annual Mummers parade was held in Philadelphia. Philadelphia City Hall construction completed.

1904 1906 1912 1913 1916 1917

April 30

The St. Louis World’s Fair introduced iced tea, the hot dog and the ice cream cone.

April 11

Einstein introduced his Theory of Relativity.

April 15

The British ocean liner Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg.

March 1

United States instituted the Federal Income Tax.

October 27

The first published reference to “jazz” appeared in Variety magazine.

November 5

Kentucky law struck down by Supreme Court requiring blacks and whites to live in separate areas.

1919 1920

June 14

The US Congress passed the 19th amendment granting suffrage to American women.

January 16 November 25

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is passed, prohibiting alcoholic beverages. The first Thanksgiving Parade was held in Philadelphia.

1922 1926 1927 1932 1933 1935 1936

November 5

King Tut’s tomb was discovered.

February 7

Negro History Week, originated by Carter G. Woodson, was observed for the first time.

March 7

Texas law banning Negroes from voting was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

January 12

Mrs. Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

December 5

Prohibition was repealed.

October 25

The first full-length play by a black writer, Langston Hughes’ Mulatto, opened on Broadway.

December 8

NAACP filed suit to equalize the salaries of black and white teachers.

1922 1924

As part of George White’s Scandals of 1922, composes Blue Monday, a twenty-minute African-American opera.

1924-30 1925 1926 1928 1929

Hit show after hit show: Lady Be Good!, Oh Kay!, Funny Face, Girl Crazy.


Make Your Own

Rhapsody in Blue premieres in New York. Introduced as an experiment in modern music, it brought jazz into the classical concert hall.

Piano Concerto in F premieres at New York’s Carnegie Hall. “Preludes for Piano” introduced in December. Symphonic jazz poem, An American in Paris, premieres. Makes debut as symphony conductor, Lewisohn Stadium, New York. Signs contract to compose a “Jewish opera” for the Metropolitan Opera, but the project is never completed. In Hollywood, he does his first film score, for the movie Delicious. Political satire show, Of Thee I Sing, opens in New York December 26.

1932 1933

Wins Pulitzer Prize for Of Thee I Sing. Signs contract with Theater Guild organization to write Porgy and Bess. Visites Academy of Music in Philadelphia.

1934 1935 1937

During the summer, travels through South Carolina to absorb local and regional atmosphere and folklore. Porgy and Bess opens in Boston, September 30. New York premiere October 10 at the Alvin Theater. Runs for 124 performances. Moves to Hollywood, California. Shall We Dance, RKO Motion picture hit songs, “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck,” “Lets Call the Whole Thing Off,” “They Can’t Take that Away from Me.” A Damsel in Distress, RKO Motion Picture starring Fred Astaire. Many hit songs including: “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” “A Foggy Day in London Town.” Elected to the Royal Academy of anta Cecilia in Rome. Highest honor given to a foreign composer by Italy. Dies Sunday, July 11 in Hollywood following failed operation to remove brain tumor.


Goldwyn Follies, A Samuel Goldwyn Motion Picture. Hit songs include, “Love Is Here to Stay,” and “Love Walked In.”

Active Learning Take out one of these books from your local library and do some additional reading on Gershwin’s life and times:

1. Alpert, Hollis, (1990). The Life and Times of Porgy and Bess: The Story of an American Classic, NY: Random House. 2. Greenberg, Rodney, (1998). George Gershwin, London: Phaidon Press Limited. 3. Wood, Ean, (1996). George Gershwin: His Life and Music, London: Sanctuary Publishing Limited.

Active Learning Cut apart three supermarket paper bags. Cut them open down one of the side seams and cut off the bottom so that when laid flat, you have a rectangular piece of paper. Tape the bags together at the shorter ends, creating a long rectangular piece of paper. From the longer side of the bag near the top, measure in 10" and place a dot. Do the same near the bottom. Draw a straight line from the top to the bottom of the bag through both dots. From the information on this page, select the most important incidents for your timeline. With these facts, include some of the important dates in history listed above. You may also illustrate your timeline.

1. Which Presidents were in office from 1898-1938 when George Gershwin was alive? 2. The tape recorder, airplane, and television were all invented in this time period. When were they invented? Place them on your timeline.

3. Add the following events to your timeline: Spanish-American War, World War I, U.S. Stock Market crash. 4. Three Philadelphia landmarks opened to the public during this time: the Ben Franklin Bridge, the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, and the Franklin Institute. Place these events on your timeline.



Why I Like Opera By Jordan Palmer, 16 Creative and Performing Arts High School I used to think that opera was about a big fat lady in a Viking helmet and armor singing a bunch of high notes, or it was like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd singing “kill the wabbit” in the famous cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” I’m probably not the only one who thought that the first time they heard the word “opera.” There are a lot of reasons why I like opera. One of them is the story or drama. Some of my favorites are Turandot, Tosca, Salome, Medea, Norma. When I start getting to know an opera I always read the libretto first so I know what’s going on. Sometimes when I finish reading the libretto, my mouth is on the floor in amazement because the story is so wonderful and dramatic. Sometimes I laugh out loud on the bus if it’s a comic opera. Then I move on to the music. I love Rossini. Somehow, you can always whistle a tune from his operas, or find yourself dancing at the end of his overtures! Music is a big part of the opera because it sets the mood for what is happening. I love when there is a love scene and the music is so beautiful that it can bring tears to my eyes. When you get to know an opera well, you know what’s going to happen, but you still have that feeling that you are hearing the music for the first time. I also love when an opera’s setting is updated. For example, Bizet’s Carmen is constantly being given new settings. I was lucky enough to be in the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s production of Carmen as a member of the children’s chorus, and the setting was different. I thought it was a good production because it gave another point of view of the opera instead of the traditional setting in Spain in the 1800’s. Lots of people make opera happen. You have to give credit to the director, conductor, and all the people who work backstage. But opera wouldn’t be opera without the singers. The singers make the opera world happen. They make opera come alive. Some make the characters their own, like the late grand diva, American soprano Maria Callas, who is

famous for the roles of Tosca and Norma, or Dame Joan Sutherland as Lucia di Lammermoor. When I go to see an opera, my first words at intermission are, “weren’t those singers good” or “he or she really played his or her part well.” My favorite types of singers are what I call the “daring warriors,” the singers who really put emotion in their singing and are not fearful of anything. Well, I think I have said what I wanted to say, and I hope that more kids my age will like opera and will let opera continue forever.

The History of

Porgy Before Bess The world first learned of Porgy in September of 1925. It was in that year that DuBose Heyward’s book was published. The critics praised the book Porgy and it sold well. The idea for the story came from the community that lived near his home. He renamed a tenement housing unit called Cabbage Row into Catfish Row. It was located on 89-91 Church Street, Charleston, South Carolina. This little courtyard community serviced the vegetable stalls in the front of it. It was located near the waterfront and it was a quiet area except for the weekends. The idea for the lead character came one day when Heyward was reading the newspaper. A man by the name of Sammy Smalls was arrested after a physical altercation involving a woman. Smalls was unable to walk and had to depend on a goat and a cart to get around the town. When arrested, his goat and cart were also taken into custody. Since the judge did not know what to do with Smalls’ goat, he set Sammy free. DuBose admired this man’s strength of character. While being physically challenged, he did not give in to his troubles. The name that he gave his lead character was taken from the name his mother Jane had for a Gullah doll she used in her historic lectures about the Gullah people of South Carolina. (The Gullah people live in this state and Georgia. They were taken from Angola and Sierra Leone in West Africa and their dialect is still spoken on the islands off the coast of South Carolina.) Jane Heyward had received the doll from her nurse Chloë, who was forced into bondage as a slave when she was just a child. Chloë had brought the doll with her from her home in Africa and she had named it Porgo. In 1926, one of the people who purchased the novel was George Gershwin. He had intended to read it off and on as part of the process he used for going to bed. However, once he started reading the story of Porgy, he could not put the book down. At four in the morning he closed the book having finished it in one sitting. One of the things that George loved about the book was the way that Heyward introduced the music of his characters to the reader. As the music framed the chapters of the story, George began to visualize the novel as a grand opera. He quickly wrote Heyward a letter and they agreed to meet the next time the Heywards were in the north.

Porgy and Bess They met in Atlantic librettist, City and took long walks Dubose Heyward. on the boardwalk together. Heyward told Gershwin that his wife had already written a play based on the book. DuBose feared that this would lead Gershwin to reconsider the project. Gershwin was fine with the idea. He felt that the success of the play would cause more interest in how he would recreate it as an opera.

It took Gershwin years before he could focus his energy on the opera. DuBose wrote Gershwin in 1933 to check that he was indeed dedicated to the project. He informed Gershwin that Al Jolson was trying to get the right to have it produced so that he could sing the lead of Porgy. Due to the Depression, Heyward’s family was having a hard time financially. Jolson’s agents were offering large incentives to close a deal. Yet this was not the way he wanted his Porgy to be presented to the world. If Jolson got the rights to the play, he intended to sing the role of Porgy in blackface makeup. This would have turned the play into a minstrel show with racist overtones. When he was assured that the opera was to be written, he refused all offers from Jolson. This ensured that the opera we have come to love is the one that Heyward knew in his heart that only George Gershwin could compose. Once the opera was finished, Gershwin informed Heyward that the producers were concerned that there could be confusion over the title of the opera and that of his wife Dorothy’s play. Heyward had an idea. In opera there was already a “Pelléas and Melisande, Samson and Delilah, Tristan and Isolde. And, so why not Porgy AND Bess?” The opera’s name stuck and in America it is as famous as Romeo and Juliet.

Active Learning Go to the library and take out a CD of this opera.


Jim Crow and


Porgy and Bess

Porgy and Bess is considered by many to be the great American opera. Like the United States itself, it is fraught with issues regarding the subject of race. Porgy and Bess is set in Charleston, South Carolina around 1930, a time and place in which Jim Crow laws were the rule. These laws had their origins in the aftermath of the Civil War (1861-64) and the Reconstruction period (1865-76), during which the federal government guaranteed protection of civil rights for African-Americans who had been slaves. After Reconstruction, as ex-Confederates took control of state legislatures in the South, they passed Jim Crow laws to once again restrict the rights of African-Americans. Under these laws, most blacks were prevented from voting because of requirements that they pass literacy tests or pay toll taxes they could not afford. White people whose ancestors could vote before the Civil War did not have to pass these tests. Jim Crow laws and custom also required that blacks and whites be segregated in public life. Blacks and whites were required to attend separate schools and use separate water fountains, restaurants, libraries, buses, and railway cars. The Supreme Court decision Plessy vs. Ferguson upheld that these laws were constitutional as long as facilities were “separate but equal.” In reality, the facilities for African Americans were almost always inferior to those for whites. The Jim Crow era lasted for almost a hundred years and did not come to a complete end until President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although Jim Crow laws were enforced most aggressively in the South, many of the same policies of racial segregation were practiced in other parts of the country as well. Partly as a result of these laws and social attitudes about race and class, many African-Americans lived in poverty.

Into this environment entered three white men. One was DuBose Heyward, a respected author known for having a depth of understanding and sympathy for African Americans. Another was George Gershwin, the composer, who had always been drawn to African-American music. The third was Ira Gershwin, his brother and lyricist. For several weeks they visited and studied an African-American community near Heyward’s home in Charleston. They observed their customs, and George Gershwin participated in their music-making. After this period of research, the three men collaborated to create Porgy and Bess, which they believed to be a sympathetic portrayal of African-American life in the South. When the opera was completed and began to be performed around the country, it was received positively by many people who saw Porgy and Bess as a new and important kind of American opera. Others, however, expressed concern about the depiction of African-Americans in the opera. While there is no doubt that the Gershwins and Heyward intended their opera as a critique of the Jim Crow era, it also contained what many saw as damaging stereotypes about black people. Characters in the opera are desperate in their poverty, addicted to drugs, superstitious, violent, and generally portrayed as exotic and primitive-minded. Some African-American singers, uncomfortable with these stereotypes, turned down opportunities to star in productions of the opera. In some places, performances were cancelled because of objections by black performers or members of the local community. On the other hand, Porgy and Bess has had positive effects for African-American singers and audiences. Ira Gershwin insisted that only AfricanAmericans could play the lead roles. As a result, many black opera singers’ careers, such as the legendary soprano Leontyne Price, were started or helped by Porgy and Bess. Sometimes, during the Jim Crow era, the opera was even able to defeat the forces of segregation. In most theaters of the time blacks and whites sat in separate sections. During a run of the original production at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., the all-black cast found power in numbers and refused to perform unless the theater desegregated the audience. The management had to give in to their demand, and as a result the theater’s audience was integrated for the first time.

All works of art are products of their time, and despite continuing concern about racial stereotypes, Porgy and Bess remains popular with opera lovers and theater goers, including many in the AfricanAmerican community. Different people may have different reactions to Porgy and Bess as the discussion continues about the opera’s artistic and social merits.

Who Was Jim Crow? Jim Crow was a character that originated in


Rome, Georgia, September 1943. A sign at the Greyhound bus station. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USZ62-75338

American minstrel shows around the 1830s. Caucasian actor Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice created this character by blackening his face with burnt cork or charcoal (known as blackface) while wearing shabby clothes and a silly toothy grin. Rice supposedly based this character on a crippled slave he saw that was owned by one Mr. Crow in Louisville, Kentucky. The term “Jim Crow” became part of national slang to belittle African-Americans. The character became a stereotypical image particularly in the south of the inferiority of AfricanAmericans. By the 1890s, the term defined racial segregation and the laws that restricted the rights of African-Americans. The blackface tradition, which goes back to the 1780s, continued through the 1940s with such popular performers as Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor. Performers later used theatrical makeup called greasepaint or shoe polish to create the effect while wearing wigs, gloves, and tattered clothes.

Discussion Questions 1. What possible instances of racial stereotyping do you see in the libretto? Do you think the depictions of AfricanAmericans in Porgy and Bess are harmful? If so, are they balanced by the positive aspects of the opera in advancing the careers of African-American musicians?

2. African-American populations today are often still economically disadvantaged. Do you see examples of this in your own community?

3. George and Ira Gershwin were Jewish. Like AfricanAmericans, Jews have suffered from discrimination through much of history. Does this have any effect on your view of whether the Gershwins were qualified to portray African-American life?

Baltimore, Maryland, 1943 . A drinking fountain at the BethlehemFairfield shipyards, for whites only. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, LC-USF34-9058-C

Porgy and Bess

Crossword Puzzle






First name of the composer of Porgy and Bess.



Last name of the brothers who collaborated on Porgy and Bess.

This character doesn't sing any solos, but he opens the opera at the piano.


Term describing the season that occurs between June and September.

This character sings the most famous aria in the opera, Summertime.


City in which Porgy and Bess takes place.

This cast member saw the OCP production of Carmen as a student in the Sounds of Learning™ program.


Abandoned by Crown, this character moves in with Porgy.


Item used to play craps in the opening scene of the opera.


Author of book on which the opera is based.



This character sings about Jonah who lived in the whale.

This character is crippled and uses a cart for transportation.


Open disrespect for court.


This soprano sings the role of Bess in this production.


The residents of Catfish Row prepare for this natural disaster.


Pertaining to an evil omen.



Porgy has a cart that is drawn by this animal.

The action of this opera takes place in this state.



To scatter.

To cause by magic.



This baritone sings the role of Porgy in this production.

Residents of Catfish Row prepare for a picnic at this location.


Those suffering mentally or physically.


Neighborhood where Porgy and Bess takes place.


This opera was first presented in New York City on this famous theater-lined street.


First name of man who wrote the lyrics to the big musical numbers in Porgy and Bess.


A type of vessel that could have been used by Bess to return from Kittiwah Island.


At the end of the opera, Bess flees to this city with Sporting Life.

5 8









Jasbo Brown






Sporting Life









New York




Gregg Baker



To make very angry, irritated, or frustrated.

Catfish Row





Crown is described as this: a person employed in the loading and unloading of ships.

Meet the

26 Porgy Gregg Baker, baritone Tennessee Margaret Garner, Robert Garner (2006) A Masked Ball, Renato (2005) Aida, Amonasro (2005) Il Trovatore, Di Luna (2003) Macbeth, Macbeth (2003)




Angela Brown, soprano Indiana Margaret Garner, Cilla (2006) A Masked Ball, Amelia (2005) Aida, Aida (2005) Don Carlo, Elisabetta (2004) Il Trovatore, Leonora (2003) Porgy and Bess, Serena (2001)


Lester Lynch, baritone Ohio

Lisa Daltirus, soprano Pennsylvania

Opera Company Debut

Aida, Aida (2005)

Sporting Life Steven Cole, tenor Maryland Falstaff, Bardolfo (1981)

Jake Eric Greene, baritone Maryland Opera Company Debut

Clara Karen Slack, soprano Pennsylvania Ariadne Auf Naxos, Echo (2003) La Perichole, Guadalena (2002) Porgy and Bess, Lily (2001)

Conductor Stefan Lano Switzerland Margaret Garner (2006)

Director Dr. Walter Dallas Pennsylvania You may have seen these artists in some of our recent productions. To learn more about them, visit www.operaphilly.com.

Opera Company Debut


Karen Slack After Jasbo Brown’s piano solo and the jazzy “daa-doo-daa’s” from the chorus conclude Porgy’s opening prelude, the first solo voice we hear sings the most famous aria from the opera:“Summertime.” Its lustrous melody is both a beautiful, soothing lullaby and the perfect musical depiction of a lazy, hot summer’s afternoon in the South. This signature moment will be sung by Philadelphia native, soprano Karen Slack, who is now making quite a name for herself as the up-and-coming soprano to watch. In November 1992, 16-year-old Karen was a sophomore at Philadelphia’s High School for the Performing Arts. Sitting in the Academy of Music, the lights went down as she attended her first opera through the Sounds of Learning™ program, just like you will be. The dress rehearsal that day was Bizet’s Carmen, one of the most popular operas ever written. Carmen is a fiery, charismatic gypsy: men fall in love with her; women want to be her. Starring in the title role was rising mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, who was becoming quickly known for her portrayal of the exotic Spanish gypsy. Karen was mesmerized. “Growing up I had wanted to be a veterinarian, but around that time I decided that singing was what gave me the most joy. When I saw Carmen, I knew that I had made the right choice. Seeing Denyce up there made me proud. She was a beautiful black woman with an incredible voice – she gave me courage to truly believe I could do it.” Today, this Philadelphia native is an accomplished soprano. To get to this level, Karen has studied rigorously. As a student at The Curtis Institute of Music, she won countless awards and a coveted position in the Young Artist studio at the internationally-renowned Santa Fe Opera then followed that with her recently completed studies as part of San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship Program. She made her professional debut with the Opera Company of Philadelphia in April 2001 as Lily in Porgy and Bess and returned for the role of Guadalena in La Perichole (2002), starring Denyce Graves. When she was offered the role of Guadalena, Karen said, “I was in shock! I thought back to ten years ago when I was a student and now I would be singing with the woman who encouraged me to do what I do today! This was so exciting for me – hopefully, I can set the same example Denyce set for me as another young person.”


Karen’s career has continued to grow since her performances here in La Perichole. She’s won several more awards for young singers including the Rosa Ponselle International Competition, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Award, the Leontyne Price Award, the Liederkranz Award, the George London Award, and was a finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions. In March 2006 Karen debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in the difficult title role of Verdi’s Luisa Miller. Karen was there as an understudy, but when the originally cast soprano became ill, Karen went on to perform the role three times. In fact she made her debut at the Met on a Saturday afternoon when the performance was broadcast internationally across the world! Karen’s solid training and the support of the Met staff helped her through the nerve-wracking afternoon. She received glowing reviews for her performance and will return to the Met to sing the role of the slave girl Liu in Puccini’s Chinese-themed fantasy, Turandot. Karen is also an advocate for keeping opera in the schools and programs like Sounds of Learning™. “Because I had supportive parents and because I had singing, I was able to focus on positive things and never get caught up in the wrong crowd,” she said. “I’ve been to many Sounds of Learning™ rehearsals over the years and the students are always completely into it. Opera lets children’s imaginations run wild.” We’re thrilled that Karen has joined us for these performances of Porgy and Bess. Maybe one of the students in the audience will be the next Karen Slack!

Philadelphia native Karen Slack as Guadalena in La Perichole.

Porgy and Bess:




Porgy heads to New York to find Bess.

join the mourners at Robbins’ wake. Police enter, seeking the killer’s name, and take Peter the Honeyman into custody. The mourners bewail the sad developments, then sing of a train which will carry them to the Promised Land.

Scene Four (Serena’s room) A hurricane arrives, and the terror-stricken residents pray for divine help. The fury is personified as Crown emerges from the gale, grabs Bess, and insults Porgy. Laughing at the frightened crowd, Crown roars his defiance of God. When Jake’s boat overturns in the river, Clara runs out in the storm to save him. Crown follows after her,.



Scene Two (Serena’s room) Porgy and Bess

Scene One (Catfish Row, a few weeks later) A jovial Porgy says how happy he is now that Bess is with him. Sporting Life tries to sell some dope and is strongly rebuffed by Maria. A lawyer enters and sells Porgy a paper which “divorces” Bess and Crown (even though they were never married). Porgy warns Sporting Life to stay away from Bess. Porgy and Bess declare their love as their neighbors prepare for a big picnic on nearby Kittiwah Island. Porgy urges Bess to go and have fun.

Scene Two (Kittiwah Island) At the picnic, Sporting Life offers a cynical view of famous Bible stories. The religious Serena is appalled at the display and says it’s time to return to the mainland. Bess finds Crown hiding in the bushes. When he tells her he’s coming for her soon, she tells him she’s Porgy’s woman now. Crown kisses her passionately and orders her into the bushes. She does as he says.

Scene Three (A week later, back on Catfish Row) A group of fishermen notes the approach of a storm. Bess, ill from being in the jungle for two days, is cared for by Porgy. Serena leads a prayer for Bess’ recovery. She revives and tells Porgy she wants to remain with him.

Libretto Playing the roles of the characters adds fun to the reading of the libretto. This allows you to take ownership of the opera in your own classroom. But do you know how to act?

Catfish Row, on the Charleston waterfront, South Carolina, USA, early twentieth century.

Scene One (Catfish Row) On a summer night, residents of Catfish Row dance to blues rhythms, as a mother sings a lullaby to her baby, and a dice game is in progress. Serena tries to persuade her husband Robbins not to join the game. Porgy, a cripple, is teased over his feelings for Bess, the stevedore Crown’s girlfriend. Crown joins the game and, high on alcohol and “happy dust,” starts a fight with Robbins, kills him, and escapes. The dope dealer Sporting Life tries to tempt Bess to go with him to New York, but she refuses. Bess looks for shelter and Porgy opens his door to her.

Acting the

Scene One (Catfish Row) The residents mourn those lost in the storm. When the square is deserted, Crown approaches Porgy’s door. Porgy stabs him in the back, then strangles his weakened rival to death. Scene Two (Catfish Row) The following afternoon, a coroner and a detective come to investigate. Porgy is ordered to come to the morgue to identify Crown’s body. Sporting Life renews his attempts to entice Bess to run away with him to New York. Scene Three (Catfish Row) A week later, neighbors welcome Porgy home after he is released from jail because he would not identify Crown’s body. Distributing gifts he bought for his neighbors, Porgy describes his dice-fed good fortune in the jail. He asks for Bess, but is told that she has run off to New York with Sporting Life. He asks for his cart and his goat and sets off in pursuit.

One of the greatest teachers of acting was a man named Constantin Stanislavski. He lived in Russia and he taught his students to become one with the characters in the play. Prior to his day, actors often looked stiff or wooden. The actors would often hold poses as they declaimed their lines. If you have ever seen a silent movie where the actors over-acted to help the audience understand the text of the movie, this was also true of how many actors performed in theaters. Stanislavski developed the idea that actors should not just tell a story. He felt that they should help the audience believe that the actors were in reality the characters they were playing. He called this idea realistic acting. Stanislavski said that “the actor must first of all believe in everything that takes place onstage, and most of all, he must believe what he himself is doing. And one can only believe in the truth.” In learning to act, Stanislavski’s performers had to master the following techniques. The goal is not to memorize his techniques but to know them so well that once on stage, the actor becomes the character under study.


Here are the goals of his system of techniques:

1. To make the performer’s outward activities natural and convincing.

2. To have the actor or actress convey the inner truth of their part. 3. To make the life of the character onstage dynamic and continuous. 4. To develop a strong sense of the ensemble. His techniques for realistic acting are as follows: (Remember, in Acting, the whole is greater than the sum of these parts.)

1. The actor must be relaxed in his or her role. All action should appear as natural.

2. The actor must have strong concentration. Know your lines and stay in character. 3. The actor must know the importance of specifics. Every little thing counts. All gestures, tones of voice, facial expressions reflect the inner truth of the character. 4. The actor must capture the inner truth of the character being performed. How does this character feel at this very moment in this play? 5. The actor must have the emotional recall that reflects the inner truth of the character. 6. The actor must know the: Why? What? How? of the action onstage as it reflects to the whole of the piece. 7. The actor must become one with the others in the

Constantin Stanislavski 1863-1938

performance so that they show the audience ensemble playing. Ensemble Playing is when the actors are one with their roles and share a common understanding of the director’s vision. A direct correlation has been found between acting out a play in class and improved reading.


So you want to sing like an

Opera Singer

Singing on the opera stage is a lot of hard work. Singers are like athletes in that they are constantly training to perfect their voices. They ask their voices and bodies to do things that most of us without training can’t do; specifically, to sing incredibly intricate and difficult music and project their voice over a sixty piece (or more) orchestra and still be heard. Singing begins with the human voice. The voice is a very versatile instrument. It can produce sounds that present a wide range of frequencies that we call pitches. Pitches can be high or low. Women can sing in the highest pitches and men in the lowest ones.

Lyric Soprano Sari Gruber as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale.

Our voices are also able to change in volume. Sometimes we speak softly as when we are telling a secret. Other times we yell as if we were at a football game. These are some of the ways we can look at the human voice. But we can go deeper and see it as a

gift of human biology. Voices are powered by the air that is exhaled out of the lungs. The diaphragm, a muscle that separates the chest cavity from the abdomen, is used to control that flow of air. The abdomen is right behind the stomach muscles and contains the intestines, spleen, and other organs. It’s always important to breathe from the diaphragm. Inhaling deeply causes the diaphragm to lower while the ribs and stomach expand. The shoulders should not rise. The diaphragm forces the air out when it contracts. When it does this, it causes the vocal chords to vibrate. The vocal chords are actually folds of fibrous bands that are stretched along the two sides of the larynx. The larynx is the body’s sound instrument. It is just below the ‘Adam’s apple.’ When we hum, talk, or sing, air passes through the larynx and it vibrates. As the air vibrates it creates a sound that is then shaped by the other parts of our bodies. This includes the mouth, tongue, teeth and lastly the lips. Babies experiment with singing, laughing, screaming, and babbling. This is done to exercise the vocal chords and learn how to control them. The pitch of the voice (how high or how low we speak) is created by them. Singers must masterfully control the flow of air through the vocal chords in the larynx. Each sung note is determined by how the chords are controlled. This is why singers have vocal exercises. It is so that they can quickly adjust to the demands of the music without thinking about it.

Singers must learn how to shape their mouths to control the sound that comes out of it. Specific sounds are controlled by the size and shape of the mouth. Think of the mouth and entire head as being like a megaphone. Singers use all open spaces in their mouths, sinuses, and skull like a megaphone to help project their voices. Singers raise the soft palate, located on the roof of your mouth towards the back, to help create the megaphone effect. An indicator that enough space has been created is that your uvula, or the little fleshy piece that hangs down in the back, is raised and it doesn’t dangle. In opera, singers sing in many languages. So that singers are able to effectively communicate |their lines, they often work with language coaches. Different languages demand various ways of expressing text. Each language has its own unique way of being enunciated. Once a singer knows the science of singing, the singer must be careful to understand the music and the text of the song. Certain emotions can also demand certain ways of enunciating the text. In this way, the singer combines vocal techniques with the emotional context of the music to enhance the words. This process creates the passionate music we know as opera.

Sound and Active Learning The vocal chords vibrate and create sounds that our mouth then forms so that we can talk or sing. Without our mouth we would only be able to express a sound similar to a hum. It is the mouth that is the sound shaper that produces our words and songs. Our wind pipe is a tube though which the air is passed over the larynx. After the air picks up a vibrating sound from our vocal chords, the mouth enunciates the sound into words and projects the new text-added sound into the world. We can understand both of these as a human instrument. We can make a model of our human instrument. Our model will not be able to shape the sounds into words, but it will express the various humming pitches necessary for words to be created. The place of the vocal chords will be taken by a rubber band. The place of the mouth will be taken by various size paper or plastic cups.

Experiment 1. Place a hole in the bottom of the cups. 2. Cut rubber bands so that they become long stretches of rubber.

3. Pull on the rubber band so that it vibrates. How does pitch change? Record your findings. 4. Tie the rubber band to a small object that is larger than the hole in the cup. (Paper clip) This object will act as a plug to the hole. Be sure to make a square knot on the object so that the pressure in the next step does not cause the knot to slip out and the object to be ejected from the cup. 5. Slide the rubber band through the small hole in the cup and pull it through until the object catches on the inside bottom of the cup. 6. Pull on the rubber band again so that it vibrates a second time. Record your findings. 7. In comparing the two sounds, what did you observe happen after the cup was added to the activity?

8. Place different sized cups into your experiment and record your findings. 9. Cover the cup opening with your hand. Pull on the rubber band. Record your findings. 10. See if you can get your cup to make sounds like a baby.


The Highs and Lows of the 62

Opera Voice

Did you ever wonder what the difference is between a soprano and a mezzo-soprano or what voice type can sing the highest note and the lowest? Most opera singers fall into a voice type that reflects the singer’s vocal range as well as the dramatic requirements of singing a particular role. Above all the voice is an instrument - a human one. Opera singers spend much time learning correct singing techniques that allow them to sing without amplification. There is no grabbing a microphone and belting out arias in opera. All the sound that an opera singer produces is done through the sheer power of the human voice. So how does one become a soprano, mezzosoprano, tenor, baritone, or bass, the five most common types of voices? Some of it has to do with the size of the vocal chords and the speed at which they vibrate. It also has to do with vocal range, which can be defined as the span from the lowest note to the highest note that a particular singer can produce. Vocal range is very important in opera singing. Two other things which are taken into consideration when determining a singer’s voice type are the consistency of timbre (sound quality or color of the voice) and the ability to project the voice over a full orchestra. Remember, there are no microphones in opera, and there are small, medium, large and extra large voices. Soprano Barbara Hendricks compares the differences in vocal types to the differences between a Mack truck and a Maserati. She says “...one can haul a load, but the other can take the curves.”

Some terms that are used to describe operatic voices are:

Coloratura: typically a voice with a very high range with the ability to sing complicated passages with great agility.

The contralto or alto is the lowest female voice and the darkest in timbre. This voice type is usually reserved for specialty roles like the earth goddess Erda in Richard Wagner’s Nordic fantasy-epic The Ring of the Nibelungen. Since this is such a rare voice type, dramatic mezzos often sing roles in this range. Marian Anderson, a Philadelphia native, was one of the world’s most famous contraltos ever. (See the story on Miss Anderson on page 8)

Dramatic: a heavy, powerful voice with a steely timbre. Lyric: an average size voice, but capable of singing long beautiful phrases.

Lyric spinto: a somewhat more powerful voice than that of a true lyric. Helden: a German term referring to a powerful voice capable of singing very demanding roles.

Falsetto: the upper part of a voice, more often used in reference to male voices. Let’s define a few of the voice types that audiences generally hear in opera: For females, the highest voice type is the soprano. In operatic drama, the soprano is almost always the heroine because she projects innocence and youth. Within this category, there are other sub-divisions such as, coloratura soprano, lyric soprano, and dramatic soprano. Each of these voices has particular lighter or darker voice qualities as well as differences in range. Some of the roles sung by these voice types include: the Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute (coloratura), Mimi in La bohème (lyric) and Ariadne in Ariadne auf Naxos (dramatic). The mezzo-soprano has a lower range than the soprano. Many mezzo-sopranos sing the so-called “trouser” roles, portraying young boys or men, or they may be the villainesses or perhaps motherly types. This category is also sub-divided into coloratura mezzo, who can sing complicated fast music through a large range. The comedic heroines of Gioachino Rossini’s operas, such as Cinderella, The Barber of Seville, and The Italian Girl in Algiers, are well-suited for this voice type. The dramatic mezzo is most often found singing the operas of Giuseppe Verdi in roles such as Amneris in Aida, or Princess Eboli in Don Carlo. One of the most well known roles for a dramatic mezzo is the fiery gypsy Carmen in the opera of the same name.

For males, the tenor is generally considered to be the highest male voice in an opera, and is most often the hero or the love interest of the story. His particular voice type determines which roles are best for him to sing. There are many different types of tenor voices. Two of the more common ones are lyric tenors, whose voices have high, bright tones, and dramatic tenors whose voices have a darker sound with a ringing quality in the upper range. Two of the more famous roles for tenors include Rodolfo in La bohème (lyric) and Radames in Aida (dramatic). A countertenor is able to sing even higher than a tenor. This voice actually falls within a female’s voice range. Through the use of a man’s falsetto voice, the voice produces a sound that is sometimes described as otherworldly. A baritone is the most common type of male voice whose range is lies midway between the high tenor voice and the low bass voice. He can play several types of roles. In comedic operas, he is often the leader of the funny business, but he can also be the hero who sacrifices himself for the tenor or soprano, or sometimes, he is the villain. This voice has a dramatic quality capable of producing rich, dark tones. The hunchback court jester in the title role in Rigoletto (dramatic) and the popular Toréador Escamillo in Carmen are favorite roles for baritones.

In general, a bass is the lowest and darkest of the male voices. The word bass comes from the Italian word basso, which means low. Some singers in this category are referred to as bass-baritones because they have voices that range between the bass and the baritone voice. A bass is ideal for several types of roles. A basso serio or basso profondo portrays characters who convey wisdom or nobility such as Sarastro in The Magic Flute. In contrast, a basso buffo sings comedic roles such as Dr. Bartolo in The Barber of Seville. So, no matter what the size, quality or range, a singer’s voice has the ability to thrill an audience with its sheer beauty and musicality.

Active Learning Let’s imagine that The Lord of the Rings had been made into an opera. What voice types would you cast in the major roles and why? Frodo









Merry Pippin






Life in the Opera Chorus:


Julie-Ann Green I started in music at age 4 with piano lessons. In high school I started voice lessons, and then I went to Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) and graduated with degrees in Voice Performance and Music Education. I still take voice lessons to work on my voice, learn new repertoire, and polish up the old repertoire. A few years ago I won a scholarship to study in Salzburg, Austria at a very famous school called the Mozarteum. (The school is named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.) I have also spent the past couple of summers studying in Florence, Italy. I’ve been singing in the opera chorus for the past 5 seasons. My first opera with OCP was Porgy and Bess. Over the past 5 years I’ve learned a lot about opera and how may people it takes to put on an opera. Everyone onstage and backstage work together as a team to put on a great show. If any one person doesn’t follow through with their job, something could go wrong or someone could get hurt. To sing in the opera chorus you have to be a good musician, able to sight-read the notes and pronounce the words correctly. Most of the time we sing in a foreign language—Italian, French or German. I learned Italian by studying with a private tutor and also by studying in Italy. When I was studying in Austria, I learned a bit of German. I studied French while in college and then practiced on my own with a language tape. We usually get a copy of the translation to the opera so we’ll know exactly what we (and the soloists) are saying. It’s important! In addition to our scheduled music rehearsals, I also practice at home. To help me memorize the words, sometimes I’ll write out the text on index cards. That comes in very handy during staging rehearsals when I need a little “cheat sheet!” After the music is learned, staging rehearsals are held in the rehearsal hall. This is where all of the singers (chorus and soloists) and the supers (extras) meet with the stage director. We’re told when to go onstage, what to do while onstage, and when to exit. We use tape on the floor to mark where the scenery would be. It takes a lot of time to get the staging correct. Everyone has a specific “character role” that they play. I have played a fruit vendor, a gypsy, a townsperson, a mother, and many other characters. After a few staging rehearsals, we go into the theatre to practice on the set with scenery and props. Then, a few days before opening night, we have a dress

rehearsal—this is when we do the whole show, complete with costumes, makeup, wigs, orchestra, sets, lights, and props—the whole thing. Once I get my costume, wig and makeup on, that helps a lot with portraying my character. Every person singing on the stage is important— the soloists and the choristers. Although the audience looks forward to hearing the soloists, the chorus helps to support the soloists and also adds depth to the staging. Many members of the chorus are solo performers in other theatres and/or sing concerts. Our musical training allows us to adjust to the performance space, the music we’re singing and the people that we’re singing with. When we’re backstage, it’s dark, and sometimes it can get very crowded. We also have to be quiet backstage or the sound will carry out into the audience! That’s hard to do sometimes. We’re often hanging around waiting for our next entrance, getting our props, or watching the soloists. For me, whenever I get a chance to watch the soloists, I do, because it is always an inspiring and learning experience. A memorable (and funny) thing happened during my first season at OCP. We were doing Donizetti’s opera The Elixir of Love and the character Belcore had a “wardrobe malfunction.” He was dressed as an army sergeant, and the pants for his costume were too tight. As he was singing his first big aria, he knelt down and—RIP!! His pants split right up the middle! Luckily, that happened during a dress rehearsal and not a performance. We all had a good laugh. Singing in the chorus is work, but it’s also great fun. I get a chance to do what I love the most—SING!

Julie-Ann prepares to go onstage in Puccini’s La bohème.

Life in the Pit:

The Xylophone The lights go down in the Academy of Music. The musicians are in their places; the audience is in its seat; and the conductor is on the podium. The orchestra strikes a brilliant chord and a whirring, dazzling theme bursts through the darkness of the hall like a thoroughbred dashing to the finish line. The violins gallop gleefully through Gershwin’s opening measures while the distinctive timbre of the xylophone, a member of the percussion family of instruments, pierces through the din, demanding attention. Porgy and Bess has begun. This exhilarating music is extremely difficult to play, especially for the percussionist playing the xylophone. The solo percussionist holds a mallet or hammer in each of his or her hands to play this tricky melody by striking the xylophone’s bars – bars that aren’t always very close together. The violinist uses four fingers on four closely situated strings to play the same music at the same frenetic tempo. The xylophone’s sound can cut through the entire orchestra. Since there’s only one person playing it, accuracy is of key importance; any mistake will be heard by the entire audience! Percussionists practice this notoriously difficult music for years to make sure they keep a steady beat and not rush ahead. This theme is heard on track 1 on your teacher’s audio CD. You’ll hear it again and again throughout the opera. The xylophone is a rare visitor to the opera orchestra pit. Its bright, unique sound is more frequently associated with the music that one might hear at a “pops” orchestra concert or in jazz than at a symphonic concert. Composer George Gershwin wanted to integrate both the classical and popular music of the time in Porgy and Bess to make classical music more attractive to the general public. He did this by using jazz and gospel inspired rhythms and instruments generally heard in more popular music. Believed to have originated in Indonesia, the first xylophones were made of animal bones that were laid on straw. When struck with other bones, wood from trees, or rocks, each bone would produce a different pitch. Today, the percussionist strikes what are called bars – blocks that produce specific pitches when struck with the mallet. The longer bars produce lower tones and smaller bars produce higher ones. Today’s xylophones are made of plastic or fiberglass as woods and metals may distort or wear, affecting the precisely tuned bar’s pitch.

Different types of mallets are used, too. Some are hard and small and make a brilliant sound; some are larger and softer and make a warmer, rounder sound. The percussionist usually chooses which mallets he or she is going to use, but sometimes the composer will have specified the type of mallet, or the conductor will ask for a more brilliant or softer sound. Playing percussion is hard work, especially in Porgy and Bess, as there are so many different kinds of instruments to play: conga drums, snare drums, triangle, glockenspiel, xylophone, and more. Percussionists have to be very well prepared and extremely organized, especially as they’re frequently playing more than one instrument at a time! You’ll find the percussion section tucked away underneath the stage, so far back they can’t see what’s happening on the stage. The musicians try to mimic the singer’s phrasing and being underneath the stage makes it difficult to do this. Special speakers have been mounted inside the orchestra pit so that the musicians can hear the singers onstage better. Before the speakers were mounted, the musicians under the stage had difficulty hearing the singers onstage at all! So when you’re in the theater, look into the orchestra pit and find the xylophone, but keep your ears open for that distinct sound adding brilliance to Gershwin’s gleaming score.


The Subtle Art of


Costume Design As costume director, Richard St. Clair’s job is to oversee each and every costume in the operas we perform. Each opera has its own special needs. Sometimes we rent an entire production. This requires Richard to send out the physical measurements for each of our principal performers, the chorus members and any others who may be in the production. Richard also designs costumes for our productions, and his crew builds them based on his sketches and instructions. This process usually takes at least six months. It begins when he meets with the director of the opera to discuss her or his ideas. Richard’s job is to match his creative insights with the goals of the director. To do this he seeks out visuals that offer interesting ideas. Many hours are spent at libraries and at home studying books of costume illustrations. He also studies art books and magazines. Once he has an idea of a design, he goes to fabric shops in New York and Philadelphia and gathers swatches of interesting fabrics. At this point, he will do little “thumbnail sketches” to show a director how he thinks the characters would look. When he meets with the director, they will discuss the historical settings and the fabrics that he has collected. They then talk through the opera scene by scene and character by character as they look at Richard’s work. In this way, Richard learns exactly what the director needs and wants.

Costume Designer Richard St. Clair adjusts baritone Troy Cook’s costume for the OCP production of La bohème.

He then takes all this information, his research, thumbnail sketches, and swatches of fabrics, and makes the final costume sketches. Each sketch takes anywhere from one to ten hours, depending on the intricacy of the costume. Finally he shows the completed sketches to the director. Once everything is approved, all of the fabric needed to create the costumes is purchased. It is at this point that his crew of about six to eight people begins making the costumes. Some of his workers have special jobs. Some are gifted at making patterns; others are good at making hats, while still others are good at painting fabrics, and still others sew the fabrics into costumes. Each pattern and costume is made one at a time with one person in mind. When they sew a costume they call it “building,” and costumes are much heavier and sturdier than regular clothes. Many of the ladies costumes have full skirts and petticoats and boned corsets. His crew is excellent at historical pattern making and costume building.

Costume Shop Foreman Elmo Struck works on the final gown worn by Cinderella in Rossini’s opera.

Richard graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 1980. He received his Mater of Fine Arts degree from Temple in 1985. He is a member of United Scenic Artists and has been working with the opera since 1986. He has designed costumes for Curtis, Metropolitan Opera Guild, and many others.


in the Arts Accompanist Actor/Actress Advertising Director Announcer Architect Architectural Model Builder Artist Artistic Director Art Festival Coordinator Art Teacher Arts Administrator Arts Consultant Arts Ed. Curriculum Writer Audio Engineer (recording) Band Director Book Designer Book Illuminator Box Office Director Business Manager Casting Director Choir Director Choreographer Cinematographer Clothing Designer Comedian Commercial Artist Composer Computer Graphic Design Computer IT Specialist Concert Singer Conductor Contract Specialist

Copyright Specialist Costume Buyer Costume and Mask Designer Creative Consultant Critic Cutter (costumes) Dancer Dialect Coach Dramaturg Draper (costumes) Dresser (theater) Extra (background actor) Fashion Designer First Hand (seamstress) Fundraiser (Development) Furniture Designer House Manager (theater) Illustrator (fashion, book, etc.) Instrumentalist Librettist Lighting Designer Makeup Artist Manager (arts organizations) Master Electrician (stage) Model Builder Mold Maker Music Contractor Music Copyist and Transcriber Music Editor Music Librarian Music Teacher Musician


Musicologist Orchestrator Painter Producer (theater, TV, movies) Proofreader (music) Props Buyer Props Designer Public Relations Specialist Publicist Publisher Scene Painter Scenic Designer Sculptor Set Decorator Set Dresser Shop Foreman (stage) Singer Special Effects Coordinator Stage Carpenter Stage Director Stage Hand Stage Manager Stitcher (costumes) Stunt Coordinator Theater Director Ticketing Agent Translator TV Camera Operator Visa Coordinator Vocalist Wardrobe Mistress Wigmaker

Active Learning What career would you consider interesting? Where do you think you could go to learn more about it? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________________________


Conflicts and Loves in Porgy and Bess Draw a picture of Bess in the middle circle. In the outer circles, draw a picture of those individuals with whom Bess has a direct relationship. Then in the boxes pointing toward the middle circle, write how that individual feels about the central character. In the boxes pointing to the outer circles, write how Bess feels about that individual.

Etymology and Word Comparison in Other Languages Have you ever wondered how different words evolved? Etymology studies the origin of words, and how those words developed. The words selected below come directly from the libretto. The origin of the English word or phrase has been given along with its etymological root as well as a translation of the word into Italian, French, German and Spanish. Do you notice any similarities with the words or any differences?






Cotton - c. 1286 O.Fr. coton wolle Perhaps of Egyptian origin. Arabic qutn






- (adj) c. 1200 O.Fr. aisie c.1340 O.E Not difficult to deal with. “at ease.”





Garden - c. 1300 V.L. hortus Gardinus – enclosed garden O.Fr. gardin






- O.E. hunig. A term of endearment from at least c.1350





Hurricane - c.1555 Adoption From “huracan’ in accounts of Spanish 16th century explorers sent by Ferdinand and Isabella.





Morning - c.1250 O.E. movewen originally the time just before sunrise






- O.E. Nathing no one thing






- c.1530 l. politia ‘civil administration’ Same word as policy. Not used in present form until 1798 in London.





Plenty - (adv) c. 1842 very much










- Recorded from 1377 in Britain as two words. From 1916 in U.S. refers to daylight savings time.





Tomorrow - c. 1275 to morewe Written as two words until the 16th century. on the morrow





- c. 1440 O.Fr.; trainer V.L. traginare. Railroad sense from 1824. to pull or draw















c. 1280 O.F. a standing post, position


Wedding Woman



c. 1300 O.E. state of being wed

O.E. wimman Lit. woman-man



c Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce an opera? In this exercise, you’re the boss. You’ll want to break up into teams to complete the tasks at hand: creating your own opera! Remember to have fun with this. It can be as long and as short as you want it to be.

Produce Your Own Opera! Office Administration Fees $220,000 These fees include salaries and benefits for a staff of 30, and office rental and utility fees. Orchestra Fees $225,000 Conductor’s salary, orchestra of 60 players, scores for 60 players, salary for Music Librarian.

Scenario: The Opera Company of Philadelphia is producing a fictitious Dracula-themed opera called Renfield’s Revenge by the fictitious composer Ephraim von Streimenhoffer. The Company must decide whether it is going to build its own production or rent a production, decide on several casting and orchestra issues, and decide whether it will rent or build its own costumes.

Chorus Fees $125,000 Chorus of 45 singers, Chorus Master salary, Rehearsal accompanist. Children’s Chorus


Kantata, her mezzo-soprano confidante/maid $7,500-$4,000 per performance

Renfield, a crazy madman tenor that eats bugs $10,000-$6,500 per performance Nosferatu, a villainous vampire-baritone $10,000-$6,500 per performance Cantus Firmus, pious penitent bass with a penchant for packing garlic $7,500-$4,000 per performance A chorus of 45 singers, a children’s chorus of 20, 10 supernumeraries or extras.

Fixed Costs: Academy of Music Rental Fee $250,000 The Opera Company of Philadelphia has to rent space in which to perform. As a renter, the Opera Company is considered a tenant of the Academy of Music, just as if you rent an apartment, you are considered a tenant of the apartment building. This fee included space rental fees, usher fees and stage hand fees.

#2: Set is a bit small for the Academy stage, but it is a fairy-tale style production hat audience members will enjoy. $45,000

a story.

Costumes: #1: Throwing caution to the wind, these OCP-built costumes are elegant and imaginative. $150,000 #2: A bit scaled back in concept from option 1, these costumes look wonderful onstage and will still be crowd-pleasing. $100,000 #3: These costumes are rented and will enhance the look of the opera. $70,000 #4: This option contains some rented costumes and some built by OCP. $85,000

Optional: Additional Dress Rehearsal


Production Salary Costs $45,000 This includes salaries for Director, Stage Manager, 2 Assistant Stage Managers, and one month’s housing for the Stage Director.

Understudy Cast


Adjustable Costs: Canon, an heroic vampire-slayer tenor extraordinaire $12,000-$8,500 per performance

After you’ve figured out a budget, here some other things that you will need to do:

Supernumerary Fees $1,500 “Supers” receive $10 for every performance and every rehearsal they attend.

The Characters include: Melisma, a soprano prima donna, enamored of Jonas $10,000-$6,500 per performance

Rented Set #1: A bit large for the stage of the Academy and it will be a tight fit – it has stunning sets, however. $45,000

Singers: Depending upon the chosen cast, you will have three options as to what your final costs will be. The most expensive cast has the most popular singers. The least expensive cast is not as popular, but the singers are very good younger singers. The middle cast option contains some popular singers and some up and coming singers. Remember, there are 6 performances! Cast A = Cast B = Cast C =

$57,000 per performance $52,000 per performance $36,000 per performance

Set: The Company needs to decide if it should build its own set or rent it. There are a couple of options for both criteria: OCP-Built Set #1: Opulent, very detailed and will need extra union laborers to complete on time. $200,000 #2: Scaled down version of first option, with less expensive materials to create. $100,000 #3: Technology-based design concept that uses cutting-edge production technology. $150,000

Additional Orchestra Rehearsal


1. Write your own plot – you can’t have an opera without a. You may need to do some research on vampire themes and about Transylvania: What is Transylvania like? What are vampire bats and what are their characteristics? Would you be seriously hurt if you were bitten by a bat? b. In what era will you set the opera? Modern times? Medieval times? The future? c. What is the arc of the story, its beginning middle and end? d. What is Renfield’s Revenge? Why is he vengeful? e. How many acts will it have? f. Write an aria or monologue for Melisma, Canon, and Nosferatu. his should consist of 10-20 lines of dialogue in which these characters express their emotions about someone or something and a plan of action.

2. Design sets and costumes for the opera. a. Use this as an art project with your class or at home.

Active Learning While a lot of negotiations take place among the General Director, Music Director, Production Department, Stage Directors, and the like, it ultimately comes down to managing money. Each season a specific amount of money is set aside for each of the operas we produce. But there are a lot of elements that come into play when deciding how to spend that money. For this exercise you’ll be given $1,000,000 to stage an opera, which is the average cost it takes to put together one production. You’ll be given some fixed costs that are not negotiable and have to be paid. Then there are some other costs that you’ll be able to decide upon when it comes time to pay the bill. You cannot go over $1,000,000. If you go over $1,000,000, you lose. If you stay under $1,000,000, you receive 10 points for every $1,000 you save. Remember, you need to create the best possible production. The better the production is overall, the happier the audience will be. The happier the audience is, the more inclined they will be to renew their subscription and donate to the Company.

b. You can do this on sketching paper, on a computer, or maybe as a collage with images taken from magazines.

Questions: How did you come up with your final budget? What was the most important aspect of the production for your group – singers? Sets and costumes? What was the most difficult choice for you to make? Did you include any of the optional additions to the project? If so, did you include the option rather than using more expensive singers or stage design? What percentage of the $1,250,000 is designated for Academy of Music rental fees? If the Supernumerary budget is $1,500 and there are 10 Supernumeraries and 6 performances, how many rehearsals did the 10 supers attend?


2006-2007 Season Subscriptions


Review the charts of the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s performance season and prices. Then answer the questions below.


B Sunday

C Wenesday

D Friday

E Saturday

F Friday

Oct. 20 Sunday

Nov. 5 Sunday

Nov. 1 Wednesday

Oct. 27 Friday

Nov. 11 Wednesday

Nov. 3 Friday

Nov. 12 Sunday

Nov. 19 Sunday

Nov. 8 Wednesday

Nov. 10 Friday

Nov. 15 Saturday

Nov. 17 Friday

Feb. 11 Sunday

Feb. 18 Sunday

Feb. 14 Wednesday

Feb. 9 Friday

Feb. 24 Wednesday

Feb. 16 Friday

May 13

May 2

May 4

May 9

May 11

May 6

Curtain Times: Sunday Performances begin at 2:30 PM; Wednesday Performances begin at 7:30 PM Friday and Saturday Evening Performances begin at 8:00 PM


The Bravi Associates Lounge Private reception at every opera in the Academy of Music Ballroom. Champagne and wine are served with pastries donated from Termini Brothers.


What do you get for joining? The benefits are listed below. Plus you will benefit by being a part of our success – knowing when the curtain goes up that you have made it possible. Your gift, at whatever level, is greatly appreciated.






Parquet Box/Balcony Box





Parquet Floor





Parquet Floor front/sides





Balcony Loge





Parquet Circle/Balcony Circle





Proscenium Box





Family Circle





Family Circle Side










1. Porgy and Bess will be performed on what day, date, and time in the F Series? 2. If a new subscriber buys 4 subscriptions for the E Series in the Balcony Loge, what does he/she pay? 3. Which performance occurs closest to Halloween? ________________________________________ 4. How many days will elapse between the performances of La bohème in the C Series and Cinderella in the E Series?

5. What sets of series have the same curtain time? 6. In Series A, what is the cost of the subscription for a parquet or balcony box and of an individual ticket? 7. How much more does a person pay when buying single tickets to all the operas in the Parquet Floor section in Series C than the person who buys a subscription in the parquet? What is the percentage of savings of a parquet subscription over four individual tickets?




Bravi Associate


Many adults have trouble understanding charts and graphs, which are used in daily life. Study the information and then see if you can answer the questions below.

Patron Councils



We want you to join our family of donors. In fact, we need you, as only 40% of our costs are met through ticket sales. Your contribution is critical to our success!


Invest in Grand Opera!

DONOR BENEFITS 3 4 5 6 7 8




$75 - $149 Chorus



$150 - $249 Orchestra




$250 - $499 Maestro





$500 - $749 Principal






$750 - $999 Benefactor







$1,000 - $1,499 Patron








$1,500 - $2,499 Bronze








$2,500 - $4,999 Silver










$5,000 - $7,499 Gold











$7,500 - $9,999 Platinum












$10,000 - $24,999 Ruby













$25,000 - $49,999 Emerald














$50,000 - $74,999 Sapphire















$75,000 - $99,999 Diamond
















$100,000+ Guarantor
















Benefits of Giving 1. Special consideration when requesting subscription seating upgrades.

2. Opportunity to purchase and exchange tickets throughout the season.

9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16



14. Performance dedication in your name with premier listing on the title page of the program. 15. Invitation to travel with Company Directors to other opera companies to hear singers. 16. Private dinner with the General and Artistic Director and your choice of singer or conductor performing in an opera production.

3. Priority seating at pre-performance opera lectures 4. Private vocal recital. 5. Recognition of your gift in Playbill for one full year 6. “Tales from the Dressing Room” event with Costume

How many benefits would you receive if you donated $10,000? What is your gift level?

Director Richard St. Clair.


7. Passes to a dress rehearsal (for a total of 4). 8. Bravi Associates Lounge privileges for one full year

List the benefits of someone who is at the Gold gift level.

during all opera intermissions


9. Opportunity to meet the artists of an opera at a special reception in their honor.

Which giving level is the first to receive their name in the opera program book, Playbill?

10. Private vocal salon and reception. 11. Private backstage tour for you and your guests. 12. Annual Patron Council dinner and recital. 13. Artists’ meet and greet receptions on the first day of rehearsal.

______________________________________________ At which giving levels would you get a private backstage tour for you and your guests? ______________________________________________

Operatic Libs: The Picnic on Kittiwah Island


The day after the annual __________ on Kittiwah Island all the women of __________ were EVENT


gathered together, ____________ about the _________ day. Maria the store owner was holding VERB


court. Everyone talked about the __________________ that took them ________ the waters to MODE OF TRANSPORTATION


Kittiwah. No one expected that it would _________ deep into the _________ once everyone was on VERB


board! There was a moment when the non-swimmers _________ _______________ and wondered VERB


whether they should __________ ashore, no one wanted to ruin their ____________ dresses, highVERB


heels, or their three-piece suits and ties, so they stayed where they were. The ____________ had OCCUPATION NOUN

__________________________________, not wanting to leave her dearest Porgy. MODE OF TRANSPORTATION MENTIONED PREVIOUSLY

The food lived up to everyone’s __________. Jake and his men __________ the freshest and PLURAL NOUN


________ fish off the Blackfish banks, and it just _________ in the revelers’ ________. Honeyman ADJECTIVE



provided a wonderful chicken drizzled with __________, __________and __________ and all the NOUN



women begged for his ____________. Sweet potatoes, rice and beans and pork rinds spilled over the NOUN

platters, and Lily’s peach and Clara’s apple ____________ vied for the desert’s top _____________. TYPE OF FOOD


Everyone agreed that Strawberry Woman’s ___________, juicy __________ were the _________ ADJECTIVE



they had ever tasted. Sporting Life, began to _________ after everyone had drunk too much VERB

____________. His ____________ tenor voice sang “It ain’t necessarily so,” as he had poked fun at BEVERAGE


the Bible stories of David and Goliath, and Jonah and the Whale. Serena came and _____________ VERB

him. All the God-fearing ____________ nodded in ___________. Some thought it was highly that PLURAL NOUN


Serena brought the ____________ party to an untimely end. “If we hadn’t ________ in such a hurry, ADJECTIVE


perhaps we would have noticed that we’d left Bess behind,” mused Annie. Maria raised her __________________ and with a questioning smile _________, “Left behind – and with whom?” BODY PART



Don’t forget the Opera Company of Philadelphia celebrates the technology age with expanded content online, too! There are lots of quizzes where you can test your knowledge of Porgy and Bess. Many of these can be used to help you prepare for the opera. Check out the Sounds of Learning™ Blog where you can share your thoughts about the opera, the music, the sets, the singers, the Academy of Music, coming to Center City Philadelphia, and more with other participating Sounds of Learning™ students throughout Delaware Valley. Post your comments by going through our website at www.operaphilly.com/education. Also look for photos of the rehearsal process in our behind-the-scenes area at www.operaphilly.org/ production/behind-scenes/0607/ and some video testimonials from artists, the director, the conductor, with online video!

______________ blown his ___________ at departure time as Bess almost missed the ADVERB

Sounds of Learning on the Web

You can download extra copies of the Sounds of Learning™ A Family Guide to Opera from this page as well. All of this content is provided for free! See you at the Porgy and Bess Final Dress Rehearsal!




duet (do¯o¯-e˘t) n. a musical composition for two performers. et al. (et al) and others (abbr. for et alii: and other people, et alia: and other things.) exasperate (eˇg-zaˇs-puh-ra¯t) v. to make very angry or irritated.

act (a˘kt) n. one of the main divisions of a play or opera. ex officio (eks-o-fish-i-oh) by virtue of office or because of one's position. ad nauseam (a˘d nô-ze¯-əm) n. to a sickening or disgusting extent. flask (fläsk) n. a container for liquor with a flat, slightly curved shape to fit in a person’s pocket. afflicted (ä-fliˇkt-äd) n. those suffering mentally or physically; those troubled seriously. flat (flat) adj. a half-step lower than the corresponding note or key of natural pitch. alibi (aˇl-ä-bi¯) n. a form of defense whereby the defendant attempts to prove that he was elsewhere when the crime in question was committed.

forte (ƒ) (fôr-ta¯) adv. a musical term meaning loudly.

allegro (ä-leg-ro¯) adv. musical term for fast and lively.

fortissimo (ƒƒ) (for-te¯-se¯-mo¯) adv. a musical term for very loud.

alma mater (älma mä-ter) n. a title used in reference to one's university, college or school.

herald (heˇr-ahld) v. to proclaim; announce; usher in.

alter ego (ôl-ter-e¯-go¯) n. one’s other self, an intimate friend.

hypnotic (h˘ip-nôt-ik) adj. of, involving, or inducing a sleeplike condition.

alto (äl-to¯) n. the range of the female voice between mezzo-soprano and contralto.

hypocrite (hi˘p-uh-kri˘t) n. a person given to falsifying their beliefs, feelings, or virtues.

anchor (aˇng-kehr) v. to hold fast by or as if by an anchor.

in extremis (in ik-stree-mis) at the point of death; in very great difficulties.

andante (a˘n-da˘n-ta¯) adv. a musical term meaning in moderately slow time.

in loco parentis (in loh-koh pu˘h-ren-tis) in the place or role of a parent.

ante (aˇn-te¯) v. to put (one’s stakes) into the betting pool.

inquest (iˇn-kweˇst) n. an investigation.

apprehensive (aˇp-riˇ-heˇn-siˇv) adj. anxious or fearful about the future; uneasy.

in vitro (in vee-troh) artificially maintained in a controlled environment, e.g. maintained in a test tube or laboratory.

aria (a˘r-i-a˘) n. an operatic song for one voice. attire (ah-ti¯r) v. to dress, especially in elaborate or splendid garments.

key (ke¯) n. the basic note of the main scale used in a piece of music. In the key of G, for example, G is the fundamental note; the music often returns to it and comes to rest on it.

bar (ba˘r) n. a division of music containing a set number of beats.

largo (lär-go¯) adv. & adj. a musical term meaning in slow time and dignified style.

baritone (ba˘r-ı˘. -to¯n) n. the range of the male voice between tenor and bass.

libretto (lı˘.-bre˘t-o¯) n. the words of an opera or other long musical.

bass (ba¯s) n. the lowest male singing voice.

loll (loˇl) v. to move, stand, recline in a relaxed manner.

beat (be¯t) n. the basic pulse of a piece of music.

major (ma¯-jər) adj. music in a major key uses a major scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then another tone (for example, C, D, E). It often has a cheerful, strong sound.

beseech (bı˘. -se¯ch) v. to request earnestly; beg for. bond (boˇnd) n. a sum of money paid as bail. caveat emptor (kav-ee-at emp-tor) “let the buyer beware,” the legal maxim that the buyer buys at his own risk.

minor (mı¯-nər) adj. music in a minor key uses a minor scale, in which the first three notes are the key note followed by intervals of a tone and then a semitone (for example A, B, C). It often has a sad, melancholic sound.

chord (kôrd) n. a group of notes played at the same time in harmony.

opus (o¯ -pəs) n a musical composition numbered as one of a composer's works (usually in order of publication).

chorus (kôr-əs) n. 1. a group of singers. 2. a piece of music for these.

orchestra (or-kı˘-strə) n. a large body of people playing various musical instruments, including stringed and wind instruments.

concerto (kon-cher-toh) n. a musical composition for one or more solo instruments and an orchestra. conjure (kôn-jehr) v. to cause or effect by or as by magic. contempt (kuhn-teˇmpt) n. open disrespect or willful disobedience of the authority of a court of law. coroner (kôr-uh-nuˇr) n. a public officer whose primary function is to investigate by inquest any death thought to be other than natural causes. disperse (diˇs-puˇrs) v. to scatter in various directions.

overture (o¯-vər-cho˘o˘r) n. an orchestral composition forming a prelude to an opera or ballet. per diem (pe˘r dee-u˘m) for each day; daily allowance for expenses. per se (pe˘r say) by or in itself, intrinsically; belonging to the basic nature of a person or thing. persona non grata (pe˘r-soh-na˘ non grah-ta˘) a person who is unacceptable or unwelcome. pianissimo (pp) (pe¯-a˘-ne¯s-e¯-mo¯) adv. a musical term meaning very softly. piano (p) (pe¯-a˘n-o¯) adv. a musical term meaning softly.


palmetto (paˇl-meˇt-o¯) n. any of several small, mostly tropical palms having fan-shaped leaves.


presto (pre˘s-to¯) adv. a musical term meaning very fast.

Pennsylvania Department of Education Academic Standards

quid pro quo (kwid proh kwoh) n. something for something; a thing given in return for something. rallentando (räl-le˘n-ta˘n-do¯) adv. a musical direction term meaning getting slower. recitative (rech-i-ta˘-teev) n. a narrative or conversational part of an opera, sung in a rhythm imitating that of ordinary speech. regalia (riˇ-ga¯l-yah) n. magnificent or fancy attire; finery. saunter (sôn-tehr) v. to walk at a leisurely pace; to stroll. scale (ska¯l) n. a series of notes arranged in descending or ascending order of pitch. scuttle (skuˇt-l) v. to run hastily; scurry. semitone (se˘m-e¯-to¯n) n. a half step or half tone, an interval midway between two whole tones. shanty (shaˇn-te¯) n. a roughly built cabin or shack. sharp (#) (shärp) n. any note a semitone higher than another note. Also, slightly too high in pitch. sine qua non (si¯-nee kway non) without which there is nothing; an indespensible condition or qualification. Sodom and Gomorrah ancient cities in Palestine that were destroyed by fire because of the depravity of the inhabitants. (Genesis 19:24) sonata (sə-nä-tə) n. a musical composition for one instrument or two, usually with three or four movements. soprano (so¯-pra˘-no¯) n. the highest female or boy's singing voice. spew (spyoo) v. to eject or spit out with loathing or contempt. status quo (sta˘-təs kwo¯, sta¯t-tus) n. the state of affairs as it is or as it was before a change. stealthily (ste˘lth-uh-le¯) adj. moving, proceeding, or acting in a secretive way. stevedore (ste¯-vah-dôr) n. a person employed in the loading and unloading of ships. symphony (sı˘m-fə-ne¯) n. a long elaborate musical composition (usually in several parts) for a full orchestra. tempus fugit (tem-pus fyoo-jit) time flies. tenor (te˘n-ər) n. the highest adult male singing voice. terra firma (ter-a˘ fur-ma˘) n. solid ground, dry land. tone (to¯n) n. 1. an interval equal to two semitones. 2. the sound quality of an instrument or voice. undertaker (uˇn-dehr-ta¯-kehr) n. one whose business is to arrange for the burial or cremation of the dead and to assist at funeral rites. vendor (veˇn-dehr) n. a salesman or peddler. verismo (ve˘r-ı˘.z-mo¯ ) n. realism in opera

Pennsylvania’s public schools shall teach, challenge and support every student to realize his or her maximum potential and to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to: Academic Standards for Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening 1.1. Learning to Read Independently GRADE 5 D. Identify the basic ideas and facts in text using strategies (e.g., prior knowledge, illustrations and headings) and information from other sources to make predictions about text. 1.1.8. GRADE 8 E. Expand a reading vocabulary by identifying and correctly using idioms and words with literal and figurative meanings. Use a dictionary or related reference. 1.1.11. GRADE 11 H. Demonstrate fluency and comprehension in reading. Read a variety of genres and types of text. Demonstrate comprehension. 1.2. Reading Critically in All Content Areas GRADES 5, 8, 11. A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas. 1.3. Reading, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature GRADE 5 E. Analyze drama as information source, entertainment, persuasion or transmitter of culture. 1.3.8. GRADE 8 E. Analyze drama to determine the reasons for a character’s actions, taking into account the situation and basic motivation of the character. 1.3.11. GRADE 11 E. Analyze how a scriptwriter’s use of words creates tone and mood, and how choice of words advances the theme or purpose of the work. 1.4. Types of Writing GRADES 5, 8, 11. GRADE 5 A. Write poems, plays and multi-paragraph stories (GRADES 8 & 11 - and short stories). 1.4.5, 8, 11. C. Write persuasive pieces (Review of Opera Experience, p. 78). 1.5. Quality of Writing GRADES 5, 8, 11 A. Write with a sharp, distinct focus. 1.6. Speaking and Listening GRADES 5, 8, 11. B. Listen to selections of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction). C. Speak using skills appropriate to formal speech situations. E. Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations. F. Use media for learning purposes. 1.8. Research GRADES 5, 8, 11. A. Select and refine a topic for research. B. Locate information using appropriate sources and strategies. C. Organize, summarize and present the main ideas from research. Academic Standards for Mathematics 2.1. Numbers, Number Systems and Number Relationships 2.1.8. GRADE 8 A. Represent and use numbers in equivalent forms (e.g., integers, fractions, decimals, percents, exponents, scientific notation, square roots). 2.2. Computation and Estimation 2.2.5. GRADE 5 A. Create and solve word problems involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of whole numbers. 2.5 Mathematical Problem Solving and Communication 2.5.11. GRADE 11 A. Select and use appropriate mathematical concepts and techniques from different areas of mathematics and apply them to solving non-routine and multi-step problems. Academic Standards for Science and Technology 3.1. Unifying Themes 3.1.10. GRADE 10 E. Describe patterns of change in nature, physical and man made systems. •Describe how fundamental science and technology concepts are used to solve practical problems (e. g., momentum, Newton’s laws of universal gravitation, tectonics, conservation of mass and energy, cell theory, theory of evolution, atomic theory, theory of relativity, Pasteur’s germ theory, relativity, heliocentric theory, gas laws, feedback systems). 3.2. Inquiry and Design GRADE 7 Apply process knowledge to make and interpret observations. GRADE 10 Apply process knowledge and organize scientific and technological phenomena in varied ways. GRADE 12 Evaluate experimental information for appropriateness and adherence to relevant science processes. 3.3. Biological Sciences 3.3.10. GRADE 10 D. Explain the mechanisms of the theory of evolution. 3.7. Technological Devices 3.7.7. GRADE 7 E. Explain basic computer communications systems. Describe the organization and functions of the basic parts that make up the World Wide Web. (Check operaphilly.com to see photos of the rehearsals and sets.) See Teacher’s Guide for additional science lessons. Academic Standards for Civics and Government 5.2. Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship 5.2.12. GRADE 12 C. Interpret the causes of conflict in society and analyze techniques to resolve those conflicts. Academic Standards for Geography 7.1. Basic Geographic Literacy 7.1.6. GRADE 6 A. Describe geographic tools and their uses. •Basis on which maps, graphs and diagrams are created. 7.3. The Human Characteristics of Places and Regions 7.3.6. GRADE 6 B. Explain the human characteristics of places and regions by their cultural characteristics. Academic Standards for History 8.2. Pennsylvania History 8.2.9. GRADE 9 8.2.12. GRADE 12 Pennsylvania’s public schools shall teach, challenge and support every student... skills needed to analyze the interaction of cultural, economic, geographic, political and social relations to. A. Analyze the... cultural contributions of individuals... to Pennsylvania history from 1787 to 1914. • Cultural and Commercial Leaders (e.g., Academy of Music architects Napoleon Le Brun & Gustav Rungé, opera star Marian Anderson). 8.3. U.S. History 8.3.9 GRADE 9 B. Identify and analyze primary documents, material artifacts and historic sites important in United States history from 1787 to 1914. • Historic Places (e. g., Academy of Music). 8.4. World History 8.4.6 GRADE 6 A. Identify and explain how individuals and groups made significant political and cultural contributions to world history. 8.4.12. GRADE 12 C. Evaluate how continuity and change throughout history has impacted belief systems and religions since 1450 C.E. Academic Standards for the Arts and Humanities 9.1. Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music,Theatre and Visual Arts A. Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities. I. Know where arts events, performances and exhibitions occur and how to gain admission. 9.2. Historical and Cultural Contexts C. Relate works in the arts to varying styles and genre and to the periods in which they were created (e.g., Renaissance, Classical, Modern, Post-Modern, Contemporary...). D. Analyze a work of art from its historical and cultural perspective. E. Analyze how historical events and culture impact forms, techniques and purposes of works in the arts. F. Know and apply appropriate vocabulary used between social studies and the arts and humanities.


State Standards Met


State Standards met in Porgy and Bess Sounds of Learning™ Lessons:

Written and produced by:

Special thanks to:

Opera 101: Getting Ready for the Opera

Opera Company of Philadelphia Education Department ©2006

Dr. Dennis W. Creedon

A Brief History of Western Opera A Time of Revolution in the Arts: The Harlem Renaissance The Proud Legacy of African-American Opera Singers Game: Connect the Opera Terms Philadelphia’s Academy of Music Broad Street: Avenue of the Arts Opera Etiquette 101

1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,

1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 9.2 1.2, 7.1, 1.2,

1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,

1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 9.2

1.3, 7.3, 8.4, 9.2 1.8, 5.2, 7.3, 8.3, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2 1.3, 1.8, 3.1, 3.2, 8.2, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2 1.3, 7.3, 8.2, 8.3, 9.1, 9.2 7.3, 8.2, 9.1, 9.2 1.3, 9.1, 9.2

Tel: (215) 893-3600, ext. 246 Fax: (215) 893-7801

1.3, 1.8, 1.8, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,

Community Programs Manager

Relating Opera to History: The Culture Connection George Gershwin: A Man of Jazz Gershwin Timeline Make Your Own Timeline Why I Like Opera by Jordan Palmer The History of Porgy Before Bess Jim Crow and Porgy and Bess Game: Porgy and Bess Crossword Puzzle

8.2, 8.4, 8.4, 9.1 3.1, 3.1,

8.3, 8.4, 9.2 9.2 9.2 3.2, 8.2, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2 3.2, 8.2, 8.4, 9.1, 9.2

Ryan Bunch Volunteer Opera Company of Philadelphia

Carol Cohen Julie-Ann Green Jordan Palmer Kristina Palmer Shellie Rubin Richard St. Clair The Teachers of Our Children EMI Records Academy of Music Ushers Maureen Lynch Operations Manager Academy of Music


1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,

1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2,

1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,

9.2 6.1, 6.4, 7.1, 7.3, 9.2 9.2 1.6, 8.4, 9.2

Opera Company of Philadelphia

Shannon Walsh Operations Assistant Manager

Barbara Mills

Academy of Music

Volunteer Opera Company of Philadelphia

Greg Buch Production Manager

Gerald Renthal

Academy of Music


1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,

1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2,

1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3,

1.8, 1.8, 6.1, 1.6, 6.1, 1.4,

3.1, 3.1, 6.4, 6.1, 6.4, 1.5,

2006-2007 Season Subscriptions Invest in Grand Opera! Game: Operatic Libs: The Picnic on Kittiwah Island Sounds of Learning™ on the Web

1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 7.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1, 1.1,

1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 7.3, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2, 1.2,

1.3, 1.3, 1.3, 8.2, 2.1, 2.1, 1.3, 3.1,

8.2, 1.6, 1.6, 8.4, 2.2, 2.2, 1.6, 3.7

9.1 1.8, 1.8, 9.1, 2.5, 2.5, 1.8,


1.1, 9.2

3.2, 3.2, 7.1, 6.4, 7.1, 1.6,

9.1, 9.1, 7.3, 7.1, 7.3, 1.8,

9.2 9.2 9.2 7.3, 8.4, 9.2 9.2 6.1, 6.4, 9.2

Opera Company of Philadelphia

Cornell Wood Head Usher Academy of Music

R. A. Friedman The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Debra Malinics Advertising

Lessons Conflicts and Loves in Porgy and Bess Etymology and Word Comparison in Other Languages Produce Your Own Opera!


Aileen Kennedy

Behind the Scenes So You Want to Sing Like an Opera Singer The Highs and Lows of the Operatic Voice Life in the Opera Chorus: Julie-Ann Green Life in the Pit: The Xylophone The Subtle Art of Costume Design Careers in the Arts

www.operaphilly.com/education Michael Bolton

1.8, 8.3, 8.3, 8.2, 1.8, 1.8,

Porgy and Bess: Libretto and Production Information Meet the Artists Introducing Karen Slack Porgy and Bess: Synopsis Acting the LIBRETTO LIBRETTO

1420 Locust Street, Suite 210 Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A. 19102

Creator, Sounds of Learning TM Curriculum Consultant


7.3, 2.1, 9.2, 6.1, 6.1, 7.3,

8.4, 9.2 2.2, 2.5,3.1, 3.7, 5.2, 9.1 9.1 8.4, 9.2

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