Little did Gwendolyn Bradley’s grandparents know that their little granddaughter crying all day long next to them in the summer fields they tended would one day use that developing lung power to entertain thousands as she sang in opera theaters around the world. Her parents, public school educators, involved in the civil rights movement at the time, played a recording of Leontyne Price singing “We Shall Overcome.” Imitating those tones, they knew she had a gift.
Gwendolyn, of Bishopville, South Carolina, was recognized by her high school music teacher, in Hartsville, at an early age, to have a remarkable voice, and Gwendolyn received voice lessons at Coker College. She received further classical training at North Carolina School of the Arts, (B. Mus.), Curtis School of Music in Philadelphia and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia.
A finalist in the National Metropolitan Opera Competition, and as the youngest singer on the roster, she made her MET debut in 1981 as the Nightingale in “L’Enfant et les sortilèges.” For nine seasons the coloratura soprano was heard in leading roles such as Gilda, in “Rigoletto.” Blonchen in “Entführung,” and Zerbinetta in “Ariadne.” She also appeared as the mechanical doll Olympia in “Tales of Hoffman,” which was aired on a PBS special broadcast. Renowned conductors such as James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Loren Maazel and Frübeck de Burgos helped to shape Ms. Bradley’s talent into one that was in demand in America and Europe.
Performing on European stages, she found an artistic home at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, becoming one of their leading international stars. A versatile artist, Ms. Bradley’s recitals were anticipated throughout Europe and United States, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Warsaw to Tokyo. The New York Times described her voice as having a “distinctly radiant timbre.” Gwendolyn was honored to perform in audience for Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, and the queens of Spain and Sweden, always proud to claim South Carolina as her roots.
Ms. Bradley continues to share her knowledge and expertise with young artists. She teaches at Nyack College and the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY.