Lawrence Brownlee is one of the most consistently sought-after 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 returns at renowned music centers for appearances with the world’s leading opera companies, orchestras and presenting organizations.
Mr. Brownlee’s 2010-11 season gives ample demonstration of his eminence as one of the most acclaimed bel canto tenors. The season finds him assuming a new role, Elvino in La sonnambula, and making five company debuts. He starts the fall with his first performances with the Opéra National de Paris, as Lindoro in L’italiana in Algeri, at the Palais Garnier (September/October 2010). The addition to the tenor’s repertoire, La Sonnambula, is set for the Theater St. Gallen (played intermittently from late-October through early-December), where last year he helped rekindle much interest in Giovanni Simone Mayr’s once-influential, but now rarely-heard, Medea in Corinto. Further L’italianas serve as his debut vehicle at the Opéra de Lausanne (November/December). The new year brings about an artistic “homecoming” for Mr. Brownlee, when he returns to the Seattle Opera, the company which helped him hone his talents through their Young Artists Program, to portray his celebrated Conte Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia (January 2011). He retakes the Metropolitan Opera stage with Renée Fleming at his side to reprise their greatly praised pairing as the Saracen sorceress and the Crusader knight in Rossini’s Armida (February/March). For his premier appearance with the Canadian Opera, he assumes the guise of Prince Charming, Ramiro, in La Cenerentola (April/May), followed by Mendelssohn’s mighty Elijah led by James Conlon for his introduction to Cincinnati May Festival audiences, and a reengagement at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin (June) in Barbiere. Rounding out the season, and for his first time before the Danish public, he sings a concert of bel canto arias at Copenhagen’s famed Tivoli Concert Hall (June).
Among the highlights of his 2009-10 season were: Barbiere to open the Washington National Opera season; the aforementioned Medea in Corinto; Barbiere at both major Berlin companies - the Deutsche Staatsoper (Unter den Linden) and the Deutsche Oper; a trio of works at the Metropolitan Opera - La fille du régiment, Barbiere (also the vehicle of his 2007 Company debut) and the previously-mentioned Armida in its first production on the Met stage, seen world-wide in HD; Barbiere for his return to La Scala (scene of his 2002 European career launch); and Cenerentola and the rarely-performed cantata Le nozze di Teti e di Peleo at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. Interspersed throughout the season were recitals in: Kansas City, MO (Harriman/Jewell Series): Dayton and Cleveland, OH; and London (Rosenblatt Recitals), as well as concerts in Berlin (German AIDS Foundation), with the Cincinnati Symphony (Carmina Burana), and for Culturarte de Puerto Rico (with soprano Eglise Gutiérrez).
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, Berlin, Dresden, Munich, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Tokyo, New York, San Diego and Boston. Among his other memorable engagements have been: Cenerentola in Milan, Dresden, Trieste, Houston, Philadelphia and the Met; 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; La gazza ladra in Bologna; Semiramide and L’elisir d’amore, both at the Caramoor Festival; Don Pasquale in Detroit; 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 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood, 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 are several heard at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, and Atlanta, as well as in Tokyo, and others around the United States under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation.
Scheduled for a November 2010 release by EMI is the Rossini Stabat Mater, also featuring Anna Netrebko, Joyce DiDonato and Ildebrando d’Arcangelo, with Antonio Pappano leading the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. The 2009-10 season saw the availability of two CD sets with Mr. Brownlee, both on labels new for the tenor and centered around the works of Rossini: on Opera Rara, an exploration of the composer’s song output, for which the tenor was joined by Mireille Delunsch, Jennifer Larmore, Catharine Wyn-Rogers, Mark Wilde and Brindley Sherratt, with Malcolm Martineau at the piano; and on Naxos, L’italiana in Algeri conducted by Alberto Zedda, taken from live performances at the 2008 Rossini in Wildbad Festival. Additionally, in 2010 Deutsche Grammophon released a DVD of the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009 production of La Cenerentola with Elīna Garanča as Angelina and Mr. Brownlee as her Prince. Among his 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 Elīna Garanča 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 was named the Seattle Opera’s 2008 Artist of the Year, received the Opera Company of Philadelphia’s 2007 Alter Award for Artistic Excellence, and 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 and a Master of Music degree from Indiana University.