New York: Random House, 1935. First Edition, limited. Leather bound. 559pp. Quarto [32 cm] in full red morocco, top edge gilt. Decorative ivory white natural fiber endpapers. Color frontispiece and title page decoration by George Biddle. Only a fragment of spine label remains, and cover label has detached and is laid in; rubbing to extremities, else very light wear. Interior is unmarked. In slipcase of jute-covered boards, with some loss of fibers at extremities. Very good. Item #56274
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, based on the novel "Porgy" by DuBose Heyward, is perhaps the most famous American opera of the twentieth century, with the original cast consisting entirely of African Americans classically trained in singing, a feat which was considered revolutionary for the time. Also unique, and the focus of some criticism, was Gershwin's mixing of jazz and blues with the traditional operatic styles. Furthermore, some members of the African-American audience felt that the opera unfairly stereotyped their culture, by portraying it as engrossed in drinking, gambling and drug-dealing. Since the opera's debut in 1935, it has been performed throughout the world, and was filmed by Samuel Goldwyn in 1959.
Gershwin's folk opera here issued in a deluxe edition, published in the same year as the opera's premiere. Of this limited first edition of Porgy and Bess, 250 were printed in October, 1935, this copy being number 164. The book has been signed by George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, and Rouben Mamoulian on the limitation page.