Named 2017 “Male Singer of the Year” by both the International Opera Awards and Bachtrack, American-born Lawrence Brownlee has been hailed by the Associated Press as one of “the world’s leading bel canto tenors.” Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world, and his voice has been praised by NPR as “an instrument of great beauty and expression…perfectly suited to the early nineteenth century operas of Rossini and Donizetti,” ushering in “a new golden age in high male voices” (The New York Times). Brownlee also serves as Artistic Advisor at Opera Philadelphia, helping the company to expand their repertoire, diversity efforts and community initiatives.
One of the most in-demand singers around the world, Brownlee has performed with nearly every leading international opera house and festival, as well as major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Academia di Santa Cecila, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra.
In addition, Brownlee has appeared on the stages of the top opera companies around the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, The Vienna State Opera, Opera National de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich, the Berlin State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie, and the festivals of Salzburg and Baden Baden. Broadcasts of his operas and concerts – including his 2014 Bastille Day performance in Paris, attended by the French President and Prime Minister – have been enjoyed by millions.
The 2017-18 season starts with a run of Rossini operas, beginning with his house debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona with Il Viaggio A Reims, followed by Il Barbiere Di Siviglia at Opernhaus Zürich and Semiramide at the Royal Opera House in London, before returning to Zürich for Le Comte Ory. Then Lawrence will sing Bellini’s I Puritani at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier at the Bayerische Staatsoper (including a concert performance at Carnegie Hall), and then Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at Opéra National de Paris.
The season will also include the world premiere of a song cycle centered around black male experience in America today, touching on the recent series of tragic deaths, and the Black Lives Matter movement that has arisen as a result. Tyshawn Sorey will compose the music, with text by poet Terrance Hayes. The piece has been commissioned by Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall, and Brownlee will tour it to major venues around the U.S., including the world premiere in Philadelphia, followed by performances in San Francisco, Utah, Portland, Boston, Princeton, Illinois, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Virginia and Michigan.
Brownlee’s latest album, Allegro Io Son, received a Critic’s Choice from Opera News, among numerous other accolades, and followed his previous Grammy-nominated release on Delos Records, Virtuoso Rossini Arias, which prompted New Yorker critic Alex Ross to ask “is there a finer Rossini tenor than Lawrence Brownlee?” The rest of his critically acclaimed discography and videography is a testament to his broad impact across the classical music scene. His opera and concert recordings include Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, Armida at the Metropolitan Opera, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Academia di Santa Cecilia, and Carmina Burana with the Berlin Philharmonic. He also released a disc of African-American spirituals entitled Spiritual Sketches with pianist Damien Sneed, which the pair performed at Lincoln Center’s American Songbookseries, and which NPR praised as an album of “soulful singing” that “sounds like it’s coming straight from his heart to yours.”
Brownlee is the fourth of six children and first discovered music when he learned to play bass, drums, and piano at his family’s church in Youngstown, Ohio. He was awarded a Masters of Music from Indiana University and went onto win a Grand Prize in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. Alongside his singing career, Brownlee is an avid salsa dancer and an accomplished photographer, specializing in artist portraits of his on-stage colleagues. A die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers and Ohio State football fan, Brownlee has sung the National Anthem at numerous NFL games. He is a champion for autism awareness through the organization Autism Speaks, and he is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity Inc., a historically black fraternity committed to social action and empowerment.