© 2014




Syracuse Opera

Porgy and Bess – Gershwin

Douglas Kinney Frost, Conductor

"Despite the impressive vocal performances by all, the theatrical star of the production by far was Gwendolyn Brown as Maria, keeper of the cook-shop. During “I Hates Yo’ Struttin’ Style,” where Maria comically admonishes the unrepentant troublemaker Sportin’ Life, a single long note so struck the audience that it elicited a smattering of surprised (and impressed) applause. From that point forward Brown nearly stole the show, with a splendid vocal performance and expert comic timing of Maria’s characteristic snarky asides."  - Nick Reichert, Green Room Reviews



South Shore Opera Company

Troubled Island – William Grant Still

Leslie Dunner, Conductor

"The many fine voices and stage presences were led by contralto and longtime Lyric performer Gwendolyn Brown as Azelia, Dessalines’ first wife and the only character loyal to his dream of educating and empowering the peasantry. Wholly at home in Still’s embrace of European, American and spiritual composition traditions, the imposing Brown also set the company-wide standard for clear enunciation of the Hughes lyrics." -

Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times



Boston Symphony Orchestra (Boston, MA)

Porgy and Bess – Gershwin (Concert Version)

Bramwell Tovey, Conductor

“Gwendolyn Brown was entirely in command of Maria, a role which dangerously skirts the stereotypes which made many people, including some of Porgy‘s first cast, uncomfortable. She masterfully kept them at bay, and delighted the audience.”  - Michael Miller, The Berkshire Review



The Industry (Los Angeles, CA – Yuval Sharon, Artistic Director)

Crescent City - Anne LaBaron, Composer; Marc Lowenstein, Conductor

“Sharing the stage with the singers is more than worth the very reasonable price of admission alone. Gwendolyn Brown, a deep contralto, made Marie [LaVeau] a transfixing force of nature.”  - Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times


“There are new faces like the contralto Gwendolyn brown who plays LaVeau, with a rich, beautiful tone that galvanized attention throughout.”

Out West Arts


“The stunning cast was dominated by the presence of phenomenal contralto Gwendolyn Brown who plays the central role of the resurrected voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.”  - David Greyson,



South Shore Opera Company, Chicago, IL

The March – A Civil Rights Opera Project

“The program included not only well-produced musical ensembles bringing the story to life, but also spoken sections which will later be set to music, as well as a sprinkling of “freedom songs” aptly led by contralto Gwendolyn Brown, whose powerful voice was inspiring and uplifting.”

M. L. Rantala, Lakefront Outlook, Chicago, IL



Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

“Contralto Gwendolyn Brown performed the Earth Mother role of Maria with dramatic power and vocal depth.”

Willard Spiegelman – Opera News



Seattle Opera – Seattle Washington

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

"As Maria, the town busybody, meanwhile, 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, The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington


"With her attitude, comic timing, and imposing alto, Gwendolyn Brown nearly steals the show as Maria, Catfish Row’s matriarchal cook."

Thomas May, Seattle



75th Anniversary Tour - Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess - PAB Theater, Michael Capasso, Producer

Hartford, CT

“Other fine work is provided by Gwendolyn Brown's Maria, whose stirring, solo voice can rise above the crowd and harness audience attention.”

Andrew Beck, Hartford Arts Examiner



Washington National Opera – Washington, DC, USA

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

“Gwendolyn Brown was a Maria with an ample voice to match her vivid personality.”  - Tim Smith, Opera News


“Contralto Gwendolyn Brown as Maria sang with one of the richest voices I have ever heard, in some instances singing comfortably in what would be considered the tenor range. She brought the forceful, maternal element to the cast, keeping everyone in line and being the voice of reason. The audience was brought to laughter several times by her 'frank' dialogue, as it related to her dislike for both Sportin’-Life and Bess.”

Patrick McCoy, Kennedy Center Examiner



The Chicago Sinfonietta – Chicago, Illinois

“A Dream Unfolds” - Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King

“[The] Four Negro Spirituals by African-American composer and arranger Hale Smith which were sung alternately by soprano Jonita Lattimore and contralto Gwendolyn Brown, each milking gorgeous sound.”  - Dennis Polkow, Chicago Classical Review


“It was Brown that blew me away during her solos in “Jesus Lay Your Head in the Window” and “Witness.” Brown has a voice that makes you get goose bumps. It is buttery, smooth and strong, and she might be the best singer/storyteller I have ever heard. In “Witness” she had the crowd laughing as she changed her voice to imitate characters in the song and had a few people muttering “Amen!” under their breath as she infused some spunky attitude into soulful verses. I was smitten!”  - Devin Kidner, Making Chicago Home



Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Chicago, Illinois

“Beyond The Score” - Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”  

“Sunday also marked a wonderful breakthrough for Chicago contralto Gwendolyn Brown, an alumna of Lyric Opera of Chicago's training program and a regular at Lyric as a cover and in small roles. Her interpretations of Negro spirituals, with ever-dependable pianist Elizabeth Buccheri, were deeply moving, even stirring. She also absolutely captured the harmonic, narrative and dramatic qualities of this music that spoke so directly to Dvorak. Stunning.”  - Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times



Lyric Opera of Chicago

Holy and Ivy Holiday Concert

“Soloists were fine, with the standout being mezzo Gwendolyn Brown, haunting in Leo Nestor's 1998 arrangement of the 1933 John Jacob Niles Appalachian-inspired standard "I Wonder as I Wander."  - Andrew Patner, Chicago Sun Times



Tulsa Opera

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

“Gwendolyn Brown brings a large helping of sass to the role of Maria; her face-off with Sportin’ Life is one of the comic highlights of the opera.”

James D. Watts, Jr., Tulsa World



Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago, Illinois

“Alexander Nevsky”, Tchaikovsky

“Gwendolyn Brown brought a rich contralto voice to the lament of the Russian girl as she searched for her lover's body among the battlefield dead.”

John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune



Four Seasons’ Arts

Yachats Music Festival

Yachats, Oregon

“Once again Saturday night there were astonishments, particularly Gwendolyn Brown, a contralto who silenced our breathing with the celebrated "Samson et Dalila" aria "Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix". Brown’s dusky voice inhabited the music so completely, we were spellbound.”

David Stabler, The Oregonian


"This is her second year at the festival, and she's making an impression with her poise and deep contralto voice. She sings Ulrica's great anger aria from Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" ("A Masked Ball"), the aria that Marian Anderson sang in her debut as the first African American in a leading role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1955. Brown recalls Anderson's muscular sound: low notes that are dark, almost earthen. Verdi never saw the Pacific Ocean. But, hearing a young singer before the rest of the world discovers her during a Yachats sunset matches one of life's greatest moments."

David Stabler, The Oregonian




"Gwendolyn Brown is All About Maria"

Jeffrey Gantz

The Boston Globe


"Meet Our Singers: Gwendolyn Brown, Maria"

Seattle Opera Publicity

Seattle Opera Blog


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