The extraordinary Lawrence Brownlee has proven himself to be one of the most prominent bel canto tenors on the international scene. He is lauded continually for the beauty of his voice, his seemingly effortless technical agility, and his dynamic and engaging dramatic skills. His schedule regularly comprises a varied array of debuts and return engagements at renowned music centers for appearances with the world’s pre-eminent opera companies, orchestras and presenting organizations.

Mr. Brownlee’s 2009-10 season finds him continuing to mine the riches of the early nineteenth century repertoire, both familiar and unusual. He adds two new roles to his repertoire, both of which fall firmly among the rarities – one each by Rossini and the nearly-forgotten Giovanni Simone Mayr. His calendar begins with what has become his calling-card role, Conte Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, marking both the season-opener of the Washington National Opera and the tenor’s first appearance with the Company. He sings with Switzerland’s Theater St. Gallen for the first time in the seldom-heard Mayr work, Medea in Corinto, as the Greek king Egeo. Next is another company debut, at Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, again as Almaviva, in a new production of Barbiere. He also sings the role with the city’s other big company, the Deutsche Staatsoper. While in Berlin he takes part in an all-star Gala concert benefitting the German AIDS Foundation. At the start of the new year he sings Carmina Burana with the Cincinnati Symphony and performs a duo-concert with soprano Eglise Gutiérrez in San Juan for CulturArte de Puerto Rico, his first appearance on the island. The Metropolitan Opera figures prominently over the next months as the tenor is featured in two highly contrasting Rossini works: a revival of Barbiere (which served as his 2007 entry into the Company) and as Rinaldo in the Met’s first production of Armida, directed by Mary Zimmerman, in which Mr. Brownlee shares the stage with Renée Fleming. The tenor revisits the Teatro alla Scala, the scene of many of his initial European bel canto triumphs, once again singing Almaviva there, as well as returning to the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola. During the course of the year he takes particular pleasure in engaging in one of his all-time loves, the song recital, at William Jewell College outside of Kansas City, Missouri; for the Dayton Opera, and as part of the Rosenblatt Recital series in London (his first in the UK). He also visits the EMI studios in Rome, where Mr. Brownlee records Rossini’s Stabat Mater, with Antonio Pappano conducting the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; a 2010-11 release is anticipated.

Among the highlights of his 2008-09 season were: Barbiere in Dresden, Berlin (Deutsche Staatsoper), Baden-Baden, Vienna and Hamburg; L’italiana in Philadelphia and Trieste; and Cenerentola at the Met, including an HD world-wide telecast. His first performances of Giannetto in La gazza ladra were in Bologna and he made his Caramoor Festival debut in two additional new roles: Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore and Idreno in Semiramide. Mr. Brownlee was engaged by the Boston Symphony for the first time for Carmina Burana at Tanglewood, participated in Galas honoring two great tenors (Richard Tucker/Lincoln Center and Plácido Domingo/New Orleans), and offered recitals at Washington’s Kennedy Center, in Atlanta, Ann Arbor and the Canary Islands.

Mr. Brownlee’s professional stage debut took place in 2002 as Almaviva in Barbiere with Virginia Opera, a role he subsequently performed in: Vienna, Milan, Madrid, Munich, Tokyo, New York, San Diego and Boston. Among his other memorable engagements have been: Cenerentola in Milan, Dresden, Trieste, Houston and Philadelphia; L’italiana in Milan, Dresden, Boston and Seattle; I puritani in Washington and Seattle; Mosé in Egitto in Rome; Il turco in Italia in Toulouse and Berlin; Tancredi with the Detroit Symphony and on an eight city European tour with the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées; Il viaggio a Reims in Genoa (Cavaliere Belfiore) and in Brussels (Conte di Libenskof); Le Comte Ory in Bologna and Reggio Emilia; La donna del lago in Washington; Don Pasquale in Detroit; La fille du régiment in Hamburg and Cincinnati; Salieri’s Axur, re d’Ormus in Zurich; the da Ponte pasticcio L’ape musicale in Vienna; Daniel Catán’s Florencia en el Amazonas in Seattle; and the world premiere of Lorin Maazel’s 1984 at Covent Garden. In the orchestral arena, he has been heard in: the Bach Magnificat in Cincinnati; Messiah in Houston, San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore and Indianapolis; Israel in Egypt in Cleveland; the Mozart Mass in C minor in Chicago and Baltimore; the Rossini Stabat Mater in Rome and Lausanne; Carmina Burana in Berlin, Los Angeles, Washington and Toulouse; and highlights from Porgy and Bess with the New York Philharmonic (including a “Live From Lincoln Center” telecast) and with the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. Among the tenor’s many recitals several heard at the Kennedy Center and Atlanta, as well as in Tokyo, and others around the United States under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation.

The Fall of 2009 will see the release of two of Mr. Brownlee’s most recently completed CDs, both on labels new for the tenor and centered around the works of Rossini: on Naxos, L’italiana in Algeri conducted by Alberto Zedda, taken from live performances at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival (July 2008) ; and, on Opera Rara, an exploration of the composer’s song output, where he is joined by Mireille Delunsch, Jennifer Larmore, Catharine Wyn-Rogers, Mark Wilde and Brindley Sherratt, with Malcolm Martineau at the piano. Among Mr. Brownlee’s earlier CD releases is a live EMI recording of Carmina Burana with Sir Simon Rattle leading the Berliner Philharmoniker. EMI also issued his first solo disc featuring Italian songs by Schubert, Verdi, Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini, accompanied by pianist Martin Katz. A live Il barbiere di Siviglia co-starring Elina Garanca and Nathan Gunn, with Miguel Gómez-Martínez leading the musical forces of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester, appeared on Sony. The summer of 2008 saw the DVD release by Decca of a performance from the Covent Garden world premiere run of Lorin Maazel’s 1984.

Mr. Brownlee, most recently named the Seattle Opera’s 2008 Artist of the Year and recipient of the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2007 Alter Award for Artistic Excellence, was the winner of both the 2006 Marian Anderson and Richard Tucker Awards, a feat never before achieved by any artist in the same year. Previously, he was honored with a 2003 ARIA Award, a 2003 Richard Tucker Music Foundation Career Grant and was a 2001 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He participated in young artist programs at both the Seattle and Wolf Trap Operas. The Ohio-born Mr. Brownlee received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Anderson University, a Master of Music degree from Indiana University and is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
This biography was most recently edited by...
BillStensrud - 8 Mar 2010