porgy

porgy

[pawr-gee]
porgy, common name for members of the Sparidae, a family of small-mouthed fishes with strong teeth adapted for crushing their food of shellfish and crustaceans. Porgies are found in warm and tropical coastal areas and are especially abundant in the Mediterranean and Red seas and in the West Indies. Best known of the North American species is the migratory porgy, Pagrus pagrus, found from the Carolinas to Cape Cod and called scup in New England, porgy in New York, and fair maid in the South. It is an excellent food fish. Common S of Chesapeake Bay is the sheepshead porgy. The jolthead porgy, named for its habit of butting shellfish loose from rocks and pilings, is the largest (up to 10 lb/4.5 kg) of the family. Of commercial importance in the area of the Gulf of Mexico is the pinfish (6-10 in./15-25 cm). In Europe the name porgy generally refers to the red porgy or sea bream, a red fish with blue spots common in Mediterranean and European Atlantic waters. Porgies are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Sparidae.

Northern porgy (Stenotomus chrysops).

Any of about 100 species (family Sparidae) of generally shallow-water fishes found throughout tropical and temperate seas. Porgies, sometimes called sea breams, are typically high-backed, with a single dorsal fin, a small mouth, and teeth strong enough to handle fishes and hard-shelled invertebrates. Most species do not exceed 1 ft (30 cm) long, but some may grow to 4 ft (120 cm). The South African musselcrackers, popular sport fishes, grow to 100 lbs (45 kg). In Australia and Japan, several species of Chrysophrys are important food fish (called snappers in Australia). The red sea bream inhabits deep European waters. Seealso sheepshead.

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Porgy is a novel written by DuBose Heyward in 1925, as well as a play Dorothy Heyward helped him to write which debuted in 1927.

Even before the play had been fully written, Heyward was in discussions with George Gershwin for an operatic version of his novel, which debuted in 1935 as Porgy and Bess (renamed to distinguish it from the play).

Novel

The novel tells the story of Porgy, a crippled street-beggar in the black tenements of Charleston, South Carolina in the 1920s. The character was based on the real-life Charlestonian Samuel Smalls. The novel features passages which have the characters speaking in the Gullah language.

Play

DuBose Heyward's wife, Dorothy Heyward, began working on a staged adaptation of her husband's novel soon after it was published in 1925. Some elements of the storyline in the play differ considerably from those in the novel. George and Ira Gershwin, along with DuBose Heyward, based the libretto of their opera version, Porgy and Bess, not on the original novel, but on the play. (In the novel, after Bess leaves Porgy and goes to New York, he merely returns, disillusioned, to being a beggar. At the end of both the play and the opera, he goes to New York, hoping to find her.)

Porgy debuted on Broadway at the Guild Theatre (today's Virginia Theatre) on October 10, 1927 and ran for 367 performances. It was directed by Rouben Mamoulian.

A 1929 revival was less successful, opening on September 13, 1929 and closing one month later after only 34 performances at the Martin Beck Theatre (today's Al Hirschfeld Theatre).

External links

Novel

Play

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