George and Ira Gershwin: Boy Wanted

Written by Paul Gruber

Metropolitan Opera Guild

July 24, 2017

Ella Fitzgerald sang the way the rest of us breathe.  Her vocal production, phrasing, diction and interpretive choices were so natural and effortless that it’s easy to take her work for granted.  A natural talent who had little if any formal musical training, she was blessed with a seamless voice of great beauty, and an instinctive ability to get to the core of both the music and the lyrics of every song she sang. She had collaborators—mostly jazz legends like Chuck Webb, Dizzie Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Duke Ellington—but I suspect that her interpretations were all hers. (And while she didn’t invent scat-singing, she brought it to an entirely higher plane.) Her composer-by-composer albums , most of which were recorded by Verve Records from 1956 to 1964, established the concept of the American Songbook, while celebrating the treasures of Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Berlin, Kern, Arlen, Mercer and Ellington.  Over a sixty-year career, her singing retained its girlishness and its joy.

“Boy Wanted” was a George and Ira Gershwin song from their 1924 London show, Primrose. It was a revised version of a song they’d written a few years earlier for A Dangerous Mind, 1921, which had closed out of town. The ease and good nature with which Fitzgerald lands every musical and lyrical point—even the rhyming of “advertisement” with “flirt is meant”—takes one’s breath away.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw2GkX745g4

Paul Gruber

Paul Gruber is the Executive Director, Program Development of the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He joined the Guild staff in 1976, and now directs the Public Programs department. In his years running the Met merchandising program he produced some 200 recordings, and published and edited The Metropolitan Opera Encyclopedia and Metropolitan Opera Guide to Opera on Record.  Paul has produced the Annual Luncheon for many years, as well as the Opera News Awards since its inception. He has created tributes and videos honoring Teresa Stratas, James Levine, Plácido Domingo, Renata Tebaldi, Birgit Nilsson, Anna Moffo, Risë Stevens, Marian Anderson, Renée Fleming, Renata Scotto, Jon Vickers, Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne.

Paul is a longtime NYFOS subscriber.

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1 Comment

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    Any idea where I can find the sheet music for this version?

    Reply

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