10/18/2010 12:19 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Porgy and Bess': The "Great American Opera"

George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, a story set in rural South Carolina in the early 1900s, has been described by many as perhaps the composer's greatest work. Despite being mired in controversy (many felt it depicted African-Americans in an unfavorable light), the opera still claims legendary status in the American cultural landscape. Here, Cornelius Johnson, Music Director for the South Shore Opera Company of Chicago and Music Instructor at Olive Harvey College, talks about the musical impact of the opera and its importance in American arts and culture.

Gershwin's Porgy and Bess is deemed by many as the "Great American Opera"--why do you think this work has made such an impact on our culture?

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