What Is the South Carolina State Opera?

What is the South Carolina state opera? Act Number 94 from 2001 made Porgy and Bess the official opera of the State. This classic American opera is based on the 1925 novel Porgy, which takes place in Cabbage Row, right across from the main character’s house on Church Street.

South Carolina State Opera: Porgy and Bess

From the 1925 novel Porgy, set on Cabbage Row across from his residence on Church Street, comes to this classic American opera (changed to Catfish Row in the book).

When Dubose Heyward and his wife Dorothy originally staged the novel in 1927, they based it on a newspaper article about a disabled man’s escape from police after attacking a woman. The show received positive reviews and sold out 367 times. George Gershwin, a famous composer, was among those who wanted to see the show.

After years of exchanging letters, George and his brother Ira finally met up with Heyward in Charleston in 1934 to collaborate on Porgy and Bess, the first American opera, with its iconic tune “Summertime.”


Todd Duncan, Anne Brown, John W. Bubbles, and the Eva Jessye Choir made up the original cast. The film adaptation of the same name, based on years of successful touring, was released in 1959.

About Opera at USC

The opera program at USC is one of the most thorough in the world, training students in every part of opera production, from singing to stage management to technical aspects. Expert instruction and extensive hands-on experience are provided to aspiring singers, directors, pianists, conductors, marketers, public relations specialists, and technicians in the theater.

Only a select few universities in the country provide dedicated instruction and practice for aspiring opera stage directors, and USC is one of them. Operas provide several opportunities for on- and off-stage participation, providing you with invaluable stage experience.

Two fully produced operas with orchestra are performed each year at USC Opera, with a graduate student typically taking on the role of the stage director. College and university grads are also welcome to apply.

Note: Every semester, renowned opera professionals from across the world host master seminars for students. Opera at USC enjoys tight ties to the voice and choral programs. Explore the choral groups and the department of vocal studies.

What is South Carolina Law?

Porgy and Bess have been designated as the official state opera of South Carolina under Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 9, Section 1-1-693 of the South Carolina Code of Laws.

  • Title 1 - Administration of the Government
  • Chapter 1. General Provisions
  • Article 9. State Emblems Pledge to State Flag, Official Observances
  • Section 1-1-693
  • Section 1-1-693. Official State Opera.
  • History: 2001 Act No. 94, Section 1.

It has been decided that Porgy and Bess will serve as this State’s official opera. The State and any of its agencies, departments, or political subdivisions may not utilize copyrighted or proprietary material from Porgy and Bess without explicit permission from the estates of Dubose Heyward, George Gershwin, and Ira Gershwin or the management organization responsible for licensing productions of this opera in part or its full.

About Planet Opera: South Carolina

As someone who studies and teaches opera history, I’ve often wondered where and when the first opera was performed in the United States. Friends from Louisiana believe New Orleans was America’s first opera city, and a trustworthy local news source indicates the first known performance was André Grétry’s Sylvain on May 22, 1796.

  • South Carolina friends think Charleston arrived first. An unsourced essay claims Flora debuted in Charleston in 1735. I regret missing its 2010 revival.

  • When people consider “opera” with “South Carolina,” two items spring to mind: Since 1977, Charleston has hosted Spoleto Festival USA. Porgy and Bess launch the Met’s new season on September 23. Later.

  • Gian Carlo Menotti founded Spoleto USA as an American equivalent to his 1958 Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy. Menotti participated in the Charleston festival until 1993, but it remains a hub for opera and the arts.

  • The festival’s operatic repertory is unparalleled. It has premiered many operas, not just by Menotti, and revived rarely-performed works (including Flora).

  • Cavalli, Dauvergne, Donizetti, Giordano, Glass, Gluck, Janáek, Lachenmann, Respighi, Rihm, Saariaho, and Weill have premiered strange compositions in Charleston.

  • Spoleto USA presents famous vocalists rarely seen in America (Magda Olivero, Luciana Serra) and others early in prosperous careers (Johan Botha, Jerry Hadley, Sondra Radvanovsky, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jennifer Rowley, Dawn Upshaw, and Carol Vaness). Details about the 2020 Spoleto Festival will be released in January.

  • The state capital, Columbia, boasts the Palmetto Opera and the University of South Carolina, whose opera department focuses on training the next generation of stage directors, a crucial aspect of the art form rarely addressed by outsiders.

  • A century ago, Porgy and Bess were set in Charleston, with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin. The drama was based on DuBose’s book Porgy. Sondheim called Heyward’s lyrics “the greatest in American musical theater.”

Since its 1935 Broadway premiere, Porgy and Bess have been ridiculed and criticized, which I feel says more about the critics than the work’s virtues. Critics stated it’s a Broadway musical, not an opera. Racists believed an all-black ensemble told the tale of African-Americans having no place in theater or opera. Some African-Americans found the text’s use of low, illiterate speech insulting.


Some have questioned whether white composers George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, and Heyward could comprehend and do justice to black characters. DuBose Heyward was from Charleston, and his work is not condescending or racist, as is sometimes said. Its characters transcend clichés with their richness and humanity. Langston Hughes stated Heyward spotted “beautiful, lyrical elements in Catfish Row’s residents.”


Some related questions are given below:

1 - What does shagging mean in North Carolina?

The time-honored shag made its way into beachfront music halls throughout the Atlantic Coast just as the strains of the renowned beach music became more popular in the mainstream. According to Wikipedia, the Carolina shag is a partner dance that is predominately performed to the rhythm of beach music (100-130+ beats per minute in a 4/4 time signature).

2 - Which is easier, the West Coast Swing or East Coast?

The dancing pattern that it employs is often carried out in a circling motion. Because of its straightforward 6-count fundamental, East Coast is sometimes considered the more beginner-friendly of the two genres. It is possible to dance to the beats of big band music, blues music, rockabilly music, and soul music.

3 - What are some things that South Carolina is famous for?

Beaches, golf courses, and historic areas contribute to South Carolina’s well-deserved reputation as a vacation destination. In terms of size and population, it comes in at 40 overall. The cities of Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Florence are among the most significant in the State.

4 - What kind of music is South Carolina’s official state popular music?

Through House Bill 3634 in 2001, Beach Music was given the distinction of South Carolina’s official Popular State Music. It is now considered identical to the official state dance of the State of North Carolina, the Carolina Shag, which arose around the time of the Second World War. Originally, “Beach Music” referred to the African American “race " music.”

5 - What is the origin of the name “shag dancing”?

It’s possible that “shagger” was a slang term for “Vaudeville performance” in the latter half of the 19th century lends credence to this point of view. It’s possible that Lewis Hall got the idea to call his dance the “shag” from the slang used in vaudeville at the time.

6 - What is South Carolina’s nickname?

The state tree of South Carolina earned it the nickname “Palmetto State.” Formerly, though, we were known as the Iodine State.

7 - Who is South Carolina’s most well-known resident?

Viola Davis is the most well-known native of the Palmetto State. It is said in the article that Davis was born on her grandmother’s farm near St. Matthews, but she and her family later moved to Rhode Island.

8 - Is it a smart idea to settle down in South Carolina?

One of the safest states to raise a family in South Carolina. South Carolina’s biggest cities have various career options and low unemployment rates. The Palmetto State, commonly called South Carolina, is quite stunning.

9 - Where does Reese Witherspoon live in South Carolina?

Shopping on King Street, enjoying Lowcountry cuisine at a local restaurant, or attending the world-famous Spoleto Festival are all great places to run into Reese Witherspoon. She is frequently observed in her Sullivan’s Island neighborhood and beachfront house.

10 - What does South Carolina’s slogan say?

The state’s two mottos surround the two ovals. ‘Animal Opibusque Parati,’ which translates to mind and resources prepared,’ may be seen on the left. While I still have breath, I hope; this is written to the right.


Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge in Porgy and Bess (1959). 1h38m DVD 2002-01-01 release. In 1935, George Gershwin adapted DuBose Heyward’s novel and played Porgy in the musical Porgy and Bess. Gershwin developed a “folk opera” with his brother Ira and Heyward. It has gone through cycles of acclaim and criticism but is now recognized as a major American theatrical achievement and included in opera companies’ repertoires worldwide.

In this lavishly illustrated 75th anniversary volume, opera producer and author Robin Thompson recounts the history of Porgy and Bess, looking at the various interpretations of the work and the many layers of meaning in the story of the crippled Porgy, the conflicted and vulnerable Bess, the dope peddler Sportin’ Life, and the other residents of Catfish Row. Porgy and Bess honor the people, the performances, and the eras that produced this distinctively American combination of musical, ethnic, and artistic elements.

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