TLS was a blessing to me during my app cycle. The following essay, my Yale 250, isn't much, but I hope it helps future applicants. I also hope TLS members who've received decisions post their 250s as well. Let's make this a 250 bank!
One more thing: Yale rejected me. "Appreciate" the essay at your own risk.
I leaned forward. The old woman beside me seemed entranced. We were at the Los Angeles Opera for George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess
and had just heard "Summertime."Porgy and Bess
is a distinctly American opera—the story of an African-American working-class couple, set to American music idioms synthesized with European orchestral techniques. Its memorable arias and duets have escaped the confines of the opera house and entered the realm of popular music as irresistible tunes—often in hybrid form—that endear themselves to a public indifferent to classical music.
I expected the virtually all-black cast because of Gershwin's daring stipulation to hire only black principals. But given the paucity of non-white operagoers, I did not envision an audience that would mirror America's diversity. I surveyed the sea of black, brown, yellow, and white faces—many likely attending their first opera—and felt hopeful and proud.
The de facto segregation plaguing America softened that evening. Unlike many movies and plays depicting the African-American experience, Porgy and Bess
drew a multiethnic crowd. America's finest black opera singers attained critical visibility in a domain that rarely receives them. Perhaps the soprano singing "I Loves You, Porgy" inspired the young black woman mouthing its words to someday perform them. Perhaps the haunting beauty of "Summertime" reminded the white woman beside me of the first time she heard the music—and first saw her place in our kaleidoscope of colors. I know that I, for the first time, felt I belonged at the opera.