Gwendolyn Bradley

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Gwendolyn Bradley
Gwendolyn Bradley
Background information
BornNew York, New York
OriginBishopville, South Carolina
GenresOpera, Concerts
Occupation(s)Singer, Voice teacher
Associated actsDeutsche Oper Berlin, Metropolitan Opera

Gwendolyn Bradley (Gwendolyn Bradley-Willemann) is an American soprano who performed on many opera and concert stages worldwide.

Early life[edit]

Bradley grew up in Bishopville, South Carolina as daughter of public school educators which were involved in the civil rights movement. After her high school music teacher recognized her talent, she received voice lessons at Coker College in Hartsville.[1] Bradley was further trained at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts[2] in Winston-Salem, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts[3] in Philadelphia.

Singing career[edit]

Gwendolyn Bradley's debut was as Nannetta in Verdis's opera Falstaff at the Lake George Opera in 1976.[4] After a very successful concert in New York in 1979 she established herself at the Metropolitan Opera, starting in 1981 as Nightingale in L'Enfant et les sortilèges (Ravel) and continuing for the next nine seasons singing such roles as Fiakermilli in Arabella, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann,[5] the title role of Stravinsky's Le Rossignol, Clara in Porgy and Bess and especially as Gilda in Rigoletto. From her first appearance on March 20, 1977, to her last on January 27, 1990, Bradley sang in 108 performances at the Metropolitan Opera.[6] She performed also in other American opera houses like the Memphis Opera, the Michigan Opera Theatre or the Central City Opera. Bradley was a frequent guest on the stage of the Los Angeles Opera as Oscar, Blondchen, Zerbinetta, Romilda, Zerlina, and in the 1997-98 season as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.

She made her European debut in 1983 with the Netherlands Opera in the title role of Handel's Rodelinda.[7] On European opera stages she performed beside other roles as Zerbinetta in Paris, Montpellier, Nice, Monte Carlo, as Susanna and Pamina in Madrid, as Blonchen in Munich, as Adina, Blondchen, Susanna, Zerbinetta in Hamburg, as Despina in Barcelona, as Oscar in Vienna, as Rodelinde in Amsterdam, and as Fiakermilli in Arabella at the Glyndebourne Opera Festival which was released as DVD from a recording of the 1984 season.[8][9]

Bradley at the XIV. International Music Festival of Krystyna Jamroz, Poland, Busko-Zdrój, 1. July 2008

In 1988 she became a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin where she made her debut in 1987 as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto. With her bell like voice, she was successful not only in female roles such as Gilda, Susanna, Nannetta, Sophie or Pamina but also the pert Blondchen, as capricious Zerbinetta and Musetta or the androgynous Oscar.

As an accomplished concert singer, she has worked with such conductors as Zubin Mehta (New York Philharmonic/Israeli Symphony), Riccardo Muti (Philadelphia Orchestra), Mstislav Rostropovich and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (Washington National Symphony Orchestra), Charles Dutoit (Montreal Symphony/Philadelphia Orchestra), André Previn (Pittsburgh Symphony), Michael Tilson Thomas (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Marek Janowski, Hans Graf, Christopher Hogwood, Ralf Weikert, Victor Pablo Perez, and Lorin Maazel among others. Her concert repertoire encompasses important works from the Baroque to the 20th century and as a recitalist she performed in Paris, Tokyo, Lisbon, San Sebastian, Los Angeles and New York.

Gwendolyn Bradley has recorded Fiakermilli in Arabella with Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Jeffrey Tate conducting for Decca Records,[9] Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts for Nonesuch Records[10] and a live concert recording of Mozart concert works, with members of the Orchestre Symphonique Français.

After returning to the United States, Bradley shared her expertise with young artists teaching at The Masters School[11] (since September 2004) and the Nyack College[12] (since September 2005) as vocal instructor. In 2010 Bradley served as judge[13] at the Washington International Competition for Singers of the Friday Morning Music Club which she has won herself in 1977.[14]

Sanatorium Marconi in Busko-Zdrój

In 2014 Bradley performed at the XX International Music Festival Krystyna Jamroz[15] in Busko-Zdrój, Poland, as she did on several occasions in previous years. During her stay she was honored on 5 July 2014 with a 'sun', a commemorative bronze plaque embedded in the Star's Promenade (similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame)[16] which is located in front of the Sanatorium Marconi in the Spa Park.

Media (contributions)[edit]


  • Live from the Metropolitan Opera, Season 12, Episode 1: Les contes d'Hoffmann (2 March 1988)[17]


  • Glyndebourne Festival: Arabella (BBC, 1984)[18]


  • Harfy Papuszy (Jan Kanty Pawluskiewicz Antologia) (1995)
  • Klassik Edition 8: Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR, Bernstein-Gershwin-Gala (1997)
  • R. Strauss: Arabella (Universal Music Classics & Jazz) (2012)


  1. ^ South Carolina African American History Calendar
  2. ^ "School of Music Alumni". University of North Carolina. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "AVA ALUMNI". The Academy of Vocal Arts. Archived from the original on April 27, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  4. ^ "'Rigoletto' Season's Final Offer". The Argus Press. October 17, 1980. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  5. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera". The Metropolitan Opera. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  6. ^ "The Metropolitan Opera Archives". The Metropolitan Opera. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  7. ^ International Who's who in Music and Musicians' Directory. Routledge Chapman & Hall. September 2000. ISBN 9780948875533. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "Richard Strauss - Arabella". new-video Das Filmlexikon. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Arabella". Operone. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  10. ^ "Four saints in three acts". University of Nevada. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "Bradley Honored by Met Opera Guild". The Masters School. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Adjunct Faculty". Nyack College, School of Music, Music Faculty. Retrieved 9 October 2013.
  13. ^ 2010 Washington International Competition for Singers
  14. ^ Past First-Prize Winners, Friday Morning Music Club
  15. ^ XX Międzynarodowy Festiwal Muzyczny imienia Krystyny Jamroz - PROGRAM
  16. ^ Słoneczko Gwendolyn Bradley
  17. ^ Live from the Metropolitan Opera
  18. ^ Arabella

External links[edit]