The Meet BESS Opera Tour: A Lecture with Class

Music, Race, and the Passion of the woman who some said was "not Black enough" to play Bess

In August 2004, filmmaker Nicole Franklin was commissioned by The Center for Black Music Research to interview soprano Anne Wiggins Brown about her life, career and the time period during and beyond her originating the iconic role of "Bess" in George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess."  Since their first meeting Franklin has developed a project that includes two documentaries, a narrative feature film and a lecture tour introducing the talented and incredibly engaging Anne Brown to audiences everywhere.

The Meet BESS Opera Tour: A Lecture with Class brings to a global audience filmmaker Nicole Franklin and team's decade-long research on the voice behind an iconic opera accompanied by the live experience of Opera Ebony. This 90-minute "lecture with class" will provide a new experience--especially to audiences of color. 

A mix of film and discussion, Franklin takes the approach of inspiring audiences through Ms. Brown's filmed oral history and the live performance featuring the talented masters of Opera Ebony who celebrate her legacy. 

Gershwin & Bess: A Dialogue with Anne Brown is the first of three films on soprano Anne Wiggins Brown in development by Nicole Franklin's EPIPHANY Inc. The film features Ms. Brown, a pioneering African American opera star as she recounts her experience of working with famed composer, George Gershwin. Anne Brown’s story is an important piece of the legacy of Gershwin’s opera “Porgy and Bess,” which made its debut on Broadway in 1935. Filmmaker Nicole Franklin is developing her documentary subject and research on Anne Brown and her association with the opera into a feature film, BESS, to make its debut in 2015. This will be a fresh take on a long-time opera, popular with audiences of all races and cultures around the world. What is missing and has been missing all of these years in “Porgy and Bess” presentations, and many opera presentations featuring leading Black talent, is the Black audience.

Anne Wiggins Brown, Oslo, Norway 2004
The Meet BESS Opera Tour is a 90-minute lecture series involving four components:


o   Selected Film Clips

o   Nicole Franklin's Lecture and PowerPoint with the audience

o   Local Students participating in a Master Class with Opera Ebony

o   Public dialogue

This project is AN EPIPHANY CONVERSATION and is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas.