“On My Way”: The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and ‘Porgy and Bess’ (Hardcover)

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“On My Way”: The Untold Story of Rouben Mamoulian, George Gershwin, and ‘Porgy and Bess’ (Hardcover)
By Joseph Horowitz

A revelatory history of the operatic masterpiece that both made and destroyed Rouben Mamoulian, its director and unsung hero.

“Bring my goat!” Porgy exclaims in the final scene of George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess. Bess, whom he loves, has left for New York City, and Porgy is determined to find her. Undaunted by the distance, Porgy mounts his goat-cart and leads the community in an ecstatic finale, “Oh Lawd, I’m on my way.”

Stephen Sondheim has called this “one of the most moving moments in musical theater history.” For years it was assumed that DuBose Heyward – the author of the seminal novella and subsequent play, Porgy, and later the librettist for the opera Porgy and Bess – penned this historic line. In fact, both it and “Oh Lawd, I’m on my way” were added to the play eight years earlier by that production’s unheralded architect: Rouben Mamoulian. Porgy and Bess as we know it would not exist without the contributions of this master director.

Culling new information from the recently opened Mamoulian Archives at the Library of Congress, award-winning author Joseph Horowitz shows that, more than anyone else, Mamoulian took Heyward’s vignette of a regional African-American subculture and transformed it into an epic theater work, a universal parable of suffering and redemption. Part biography, part revelatory history, On My Way re-creates Mamoulian’s visionary style on stage and screen, his collaboration with George Gershwin, and the genesis of the opera that changed the face of American musical life.

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; illustrated edition (July 29, 2013)
  • Dimensions: 6.5” W x 1.1” D x 9.6” H


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History

The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess

One of America’s favorite operas returns to the Met for the first time in nearly 30 years. James Robinson’s stylish production transports audiences to Catfish Row on the Charleston waterfront, vibrant with the music, dancing, emotion, and heartbreak of its inhabitants.

“If you’re going to stage Gershwin’s opera, this is how,” raved the Guardian when the new production premiered in London in 2018.

David Robertson conducts a dynamic cast, featuring the sympathetic duo of Eric Owens and Angel Blue in the title roles and an all-star ensemble that includes Golda Schultz, Latonia Moore, Denyce Graves, Frederick Ballentine, Alfred Walker, and Ryan Speedo Green.

 

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