Contralto Gwendolyn Brown’s operatic performances of traditional, 20th century, and even the avant guard has earned her consistent critical acclaim.
Ms. Brown is fresh from 2015 and 2017 critically acclaimed performances of Afterword: AACM (as) Opera by George Lewis. The work was performed in Brooklyn, and Chicago, as well as the Ostrava Days, Ojai and the Huddersfield New Music Festivals. Ms. Brown’s “large, lovely and distinctive voice” (Boris Klepal, Harmonie) was hailed as “phenomenal, with an almost boundless vocal range.” (Jan Dehner, Divadelni Noviny). Gwendolyn Brown’s contralto “showed astonishing range and timbre, a stern voice of certainty.” Huddersfield Examiner.
Ms. Brown premiered the role of the “strong, beneficent” (James McQuillen, The Oregonian) Black Madonna in the opera “The Canticle of the Black Madonna” written by Ethan Gans-Morse. Igor Levental, formerly of Opera News and Canada Opera said of Ms. Brown’s performance: “Contralto Gwendolyn Brown as the Black Madonna is a unifying musical and dramatic force of the opera which culminates with the message of reconciliation and healing.”
In the Spring of 2012, Ms. Brown’s performances of the lead role Marie Laveau in the newly written opera “Crescent City” by Anne LaBaron for Los Angeles’ new opera company The Industry (Yuval Sharon, Artistic Director) hailed her “deep contralto” and performance as “a transfixing force of nature” (Mark Swed, LA Times). Brown played LaVeau, “with a rich, beautiful tone that galvanized attention throughout” (Out West Arts).
Critical acclaim of Ms. Brown’s signature role of Maria in “Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess” has made her one of the most sought after and renowned artists to perform the role. Her recent performances with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera and Boston Symphony (both during the regular season and at Tanglewood) as well as performances with Washington National Opera, New Orleans Opera, and abroad in Germany, Amsterdam, and Burssels were given high praise. Ms. Brown “was a Maria with an ample voice to match her vivid personality” (Tim Smith, Opera News).
Ms. Brown “performed the Earth Mother role of Maria with dramatic power and vocal depth.” (Willard Spiegelman, Opera News). “As Maria, the town busybody, Gwendolyn Brown steals the show – a no-nonsense mama whose flips from rich alto to deep Southern back talk have both stage and audience in thrall.” (Rosemary Ponnekanti, Tacoma News Tribune).