About This Performance
Lawrence Brownlee’s voice has been described as, “an instrument of great beauty and expression,” by NPR, a fact attested to by an enthusiastic SF Performances audience at his recital debut here two seasons ago. This tremendously versatile tenor—who was named “Male Singer of the Year” by both the International Opera Award and Bachtrack—explores a golden age of popular singers.
Crooners—An homage to legendary popular vocalists from the 50s and 60s
American-born tenor Lawrence Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world, and has been hailed as “an international star in the bel canto operatic repertory” (The New York Times), “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars” (The Guardian), and “one of the most in-demand opera singers in the world today” (NPR). A recent review of his Arturo in I Purtani left a reviewer to write, “If there is a finer Arturo in the world other than Lawrence Brownlee, I haven’t heard him, and I have heard them all.”
The 2019–20 season began with a return to Lyric Opera of Chicago for one of his signature roles as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, followed by Dutch National Opera for another Rossinian comedy favorite as Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola. Brownlee makes a welcome return to Houston Grand Opera, adding a new role to his repertoire as Fernand in a new production of Donizetti’s La Favorite.
Brownlee then switches gears to perform with the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Münchner Rundfunkorchester, a Gala with Pretty Yende and the Würth Philharmoniker, a concert in his hometown with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra, a recital alongside Michael Spyres and the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, and more.
Brownlee’s spring includes a house debut at Dallas Opera in The Barber of Seville. His season concludes with Il Pirata at Konzerthaus Dortmund, a company debut in The Pearl Fishers at Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the BBC Proms.
A passionate advocate for diversity initiatives, Mr. Brownlee works with companies and engages civic entities in the cities he visits to create programs and experiences seeking to expand opera audiences. He will give a U.S. tour of solo recitals featuring his critically-acclaimed Cycles of My Being, a song cycle that centers on the black male experience in America today, including performances at Shriver Hall in Baltimore and at Gardner Museum Concerts in Boston. Following the successful Lawrence Brownlee and Friends concert at Lyric Opera of Chicago, Brownlee plans Giving Voice at Houston Grand Opera, created to celebrate Houston’s diverse community. A similar concert showcasing diversity and the power of song will be presented in Dallas.
He serves as artistic advisor for Opera Philadelphia where his responsibilities include increasing and expanding audience diversity, advocating for new works, and liaising with the General Director from the perspective of a performing artist. “As an artist, I think it is important that we are actively advocating for this beautiful art form we love so much” said Brownlee, “ensuring that it will be alive and well for many years to come.” Mr. Brownlee also serves as an Ambassador for Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited, and is a Peace Ambassador for a new initiative called Opera for Peace.
With an ever-increasing balance in opera, recital, and concerts, Lawrence Brownlee has cemented his place as one of the top artists in classical music. He is a regular guest at the world’s most important opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Royal Opera House - Covent Garden, Bayerische Staatsoper, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opéra national de Paris, Gran Teatre del Liceu, Teatro Real, Opernhaus Zürich, and Wiener Staatsoper. He is a fixture at the world’s top recital venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, and The Kennedy Center. His concert performances include collaborations with The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The San Francisco Symphony, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the festivals of Baden-Baden and Salzburg.
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. Brownlee is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., a historically black fraternity committed to social action and empowerment. Brownlee is a winner of numerous awards and distinctions including “Male Singer of the Year” (2017 International Opera Awards). In October 2019, he had the distinct honor of singing at Jessye Norman’s funeral in her hometown of Augusta, Georgia.
Alongside his singing career, Brownlee is an avid salsa dancer, tennis player, ping-pong player, and amateur photographer. A die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers and Ohio State football fan, Brownlee has sung the National Anthem at numerous NFL games. Mr. Brownlee is a passionate advocate for Autism Awareness, and is the proud father of an autistic son, Caleb, and daughter, Zoe. Mr Brownlee, his wife Kendra, and their kids make their home in Florida.