RIP: Anne Brown, Gershwin's Original Bess

We were really saddened to hear from the Times that Gershwin’s original Bess, soprano Anne Brown, has passed away. She quite literally built that role in 1935’s Porgy & Bess — Gershwin was so inspired by her singing, that he expanded the part considerably, and added the character name to his title. However, even after contributing to a ground-breaking work, Brown moved to Oslo in order to escape racial prejudice here in the states. If you’re not familiar with this wonderful American opera (one of our favorites), please, take a few minutes before you clock out today and watch the following. There’s so much more to “Summertime” than just a Sublime riff.


A clip from the (mostly terrible) 1959 film version:

“It Ain’t Necessarily So” performed by the National Opera in Warsaw:

Montage from LA Opera’s production:

Bonus! Diva Renee Fleming singing “Summertime”