Brenda (Brenda Lewis) Cooper
March 2, 1921 - September 16, 2017
Cooper, Brenda (Brenda Lewis), 96, Died Sept. 16 at home in Westport, engaging, entertaining and brimming with brio and intelligence to the end.
Born Birdie Solomon and raised in Sunbury, Pa., in a close-knit family, she remembers being bowled over by a local performance of St. Matthew’s Passion when she was 13, inspiring a fearless and wide-ranging operatic career. Her roles extended from Salome, Carmen and Musetta at the Metropolitan Opera to the title role in her friend Marc Blitzstein’s Regina at New York City Opera and on Broadway in the late 40s and 50s. She toured widely with the Met in the U.S. and abroad, braving McCarthy-era picketers at times, and in 1965 performed the title role of Lizzie Borden at New York City Opera, a production broadcast nationally on public TV. She twice sang, to Leonard Bernstein’s accompaniment, on TV shows he hosted, starred in the Song of Norway at Jones Beach, performed on Broadway and in cabaret, and wowed Vienna audiences with German-language star turns in Annie Get Your Gun and Kiss Me Kate.
In the early 1970s, she branched into producing and directing at the New Haven Opera Company. She had a deep-rooted engagement with current events nurtured at her childhood dinner table, and kept her sharp-witted analytical intelligence honed through close-knit daily reads of The New York TImes.
Brenda was predeceased by her husband Benjamin and is survived by children Leo Asen (Cindy), Michael Asen (Joan) and Edie Cooper (Jed), four very loving grandchildren and a new great-granddaughter.
The family is grateful to Beverly Zeruthi for her extraordinary care. A service will be held at Congregation Beth El in Norwalk at 10:00 am on Monday, Sept. 18.