Lawrence Brownlee

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Lawrence Brownlee (born 1972) is an American operatic tenor particularly associated with the bel canto repertoire. Describing his voice, Speight Jenkins, general director of the Seattle Opera, said: "There are other singers that sing this repertory very well, but I don't think anyone else has quite as beautiful a sound and as rounded a tone," and praise his "incredible top notes", adding about his high F (F5) in "Credeasi, misera": "With him it's not a scream, it's a beautiful sound." [1] Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato adds: "He is always in service of the music. His natural instrument is just incredibly beautiful. The word 'honey' comes to mind. He also has technical prowess and agility." [1]

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Tenor is a male voice type in classical music whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Bel canto —with several similar constructions —is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing.

Contents

Early life and education

Lawrence Brownlee and Damien Sneed at Soho Apple store Lawrence Brownlee and Damien Sneed at Soho Apple Store.jpg
Lawrence Brownlee and Damien Sneed at Soho Apple store

Brownlee was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He grew up without much exposure to classical music, but had an extremely musical childhood, playing trumpet, guitar and drums, and singing Gospel music in church. [2] His first gigs were at an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, singing pop and show tunes. [3] Brownlee attended Anderson University in Indiana for his undergraduate degree and Indiana University Jacobs School of Music for graduate studies. He studied with soprano Costanza Cuccaro, David Starkey, and Fritz Robertson. [1] While a graduate student, he became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, his desire to become a member was due in large part to his association with members of its Alpha chapter, founded at Indiana University Bloomington in January 1911. He was officially initiated into the Indianapolis Alumni Chapter in the fall of 1999, but considers himself close to the founding chapter and was involved in many of its activities while a student. He became a life member in 2008. [4]

Youngstown, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Youngstown is a city in and the county seat of Mahoning County in the U.S. state of Ohio, with small portions extending into Trumbull County. According to the 2010 Census, Youngstown had a city proper population of 66,982, while the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area it anchors contained 565,773 people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties in Ohio, and Mercer County in Pennsylvania.

Sandusky, Ohio City in Ohio, United States

Sandusky is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Erie County. Situated in northern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie, Sandusky is midway between Toledo to the west and Cleveland to the east.

Anderson University (Indiana) university in Anderson, Indiana, USA

Anderson University is an private Christian liberal arts university in Anderson, Indiana. The college is affiliated with the Church of God. Anderson University is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and the Independent Colleges of Indiana society. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors, as well as graduate programs in business, music, and theology.

Brownlee participated in young artist programs at the Seattle Opera and the Wolf Trap Opera Company. [5] [6]

Seattle Opera opera company in Seattle, Washington, U.S.

Seattle Opera is an opera company located in Seattle, Washington. Founded in 1963 by Glynn Ross, who served as the company's first general director through 1983, Seattle Opera's season runs from August to late May, with five or six operas offered and with eight to ten performances each, often with double casts in major roles to allow for successive evening presentations.

Wolf Trap Opera Company

The Wolf Trap Opera Company was founded in 1971 as part of the program of the Wolf Trap Foundation located near the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Fairfax County, Virginia. The company is a residency program for aspiring opera professionals, with its major production being a summer opera festival.

Career

Brownlee's professional stage debut took place in 2002 as Almaviva in Rossini's The Barber of Seville with Virginia Opera. [5] Brownlee made his Metropolitan Opera debut in a new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia in 2007. The role has since become one of his most recognizable and famous. [1] He has subsequently appeared in Il Barbiere in Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Madrid, Dresden, Munich, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Tokyo, New York, Washington, San Diego, Seattle, and Boston. [4] Brownlee's career highlights include performances of The Barber of Seville at the Vienna State Opera, the Boston Lyric Opera and Madrid's Teatro Real. He has appeared in Rossini's L'italiana in Algeri and La Cenerentola at Milan's La Scala, as Belfiore in Rossini's Il viaggio a Reims in Brussels, and as Tonio in Donizetti's La fille du régiment at the Cincinnati Opera. He has also received acclaim in Rossini's Armida , alongside Renée Fleming, [7] in the famously challenging role of Tonio in La fille du régiment, and as Arturo in I puritani [8] at the Metropolitan Opera. [1] In 2014 Brownlee, Juan Diego Flórez, and Javier Camarena were called "The Three Tenors," and said to "represent a new golden age in high male voices and in the singular thrill of their top notes." [9]

<i>The Barber of Seville</i> 1816 opera by Gioachino Rossini

The Barber of Seville, or The Useless Precaution is an opera buffa in two acts by Gioachino Rossini with an Italian libretto by Cesare Sterbini. The libretto was based on Pierre Beaumarchais's French comedy Le Barbier de Séville (1775). The première of Rossini's opera took place on 20 February 1816 at the Teatro Argentina, Rome, with designs by Angelo Toselli.

Virginia Opera is an opera company based in the Commonwealth of Virginia which was first organized in 1974 by a group of Norfolk, Virginia community volunteers.

Metropolitan Opera opera company in Manhattan, New York City

The Metropolitan Opera is an opera company based in New York City, resident at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. The company is operated by the non-profit Metropolitan Opera Association, with Peter Gelb as general manager. As of 2018, the company's current music director is Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

In concert, Brownlee has performed in Handel's Messiah with the Houston Symphony and the San Francisco Symphony. He has given recitals under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, and was featured in one of that Foundation's Gala Concerts at Lincoln Center. [4] [10] In May 2010, Brownlee performed a concert with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves in the United States Supreme Court Building for the Supreme Court justices. [11] He also gives recitals with selections from his Spiritual Sketches album with Damien Sneed, new arrangements of traditional music, including for an NPR "Tiny Desk Concert". [12] [13]

<i>Messiah</i> (Handel) Oratorio by Handel

Messiah is an English-language oratorio composed in 1741 by George Frideric Handel, with a scriptural text compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible, and from the Coverdale Psalter, the version of the Psalms included with the Book of Common Prayer. It was first performed in Dublin on 13 April 1742 and received its London premiere nearly a year later. After an initially modest public reception, the oratorio gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music.

Houston Symphony symphonic orchestra

The Houston Symphony is a Grammy Award winning orchestra based in Houston, Texas. Since 1966, it has performed at the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston.

San Francisco Symphony symphonic orchestra

The San Francisco Symphony (SFS), founded in 1911, is an American orchestra based in San Francisco, California. Since 1980, the orchestra is resident at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall in the City's Hayes Valley neighborhood. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus (1972) are part of the organization. Since 1995, Michael Tilson Thomas has been the orchestra's music director. Tilson Thomas is scheduled to conclude his tenure as the orchestra's music director in 2020, when Esa-Pekka Salonen is scheduled to become the orchestra's next music director.

In a departure from his usual repertoire, he created the role of Syme in Lorin Maazel's opera 1984 in its world premiere at London's Royal Opera House on May 3, 2005. In 2015 he will play Charlie Parker in the premiere of Daniel Schnyder's opera Yardbird at Opera Philadelphia. [14]

Lorin Maazel French-American conductor

Lorin Varencove Maazel was an American conductor, violinist and composer. Making his debut at the conducting podium at the age of eight, he embarked on his career in earnest in 1953, establishing a reputation in European concert halls by 1960 but, by comparison, his career in the U.S. progressed far more slowly. However, he would later be appointed music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic, among other posts. Maazel was well-regarded in baton technique and possessed a photographic memory for scores. Described as mercurial and forbidding in rehearsal, he mellowed in old age.

<i>1984</i> (opera) opera by the American conductor and composer Lorin Maazel, first played in 2005

1984 is an opera by the American conductor and composer Lorin Maazel, with a libretto by J. D. McClatchy and Thomas Meehan. The opera is based on George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It premiered on 3 May 2005 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in a production directed by Robert Lepage.

Royal Opera House opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London

The Royal Opera House (ROH) is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Originally called the Theatre Royal, it served primarily as a playhouse for the first hundred years of its history. In 1734, the first ballet was presented. A year later, Handel's first season of operas began. Many of his operas and oratorios were specifically written for Covent Garden and had their premieres there.

Personal life

Brownlee lives in Atlanta with his wife, Kendra, and their two children. He is a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also likes photography and playing table tennis, and is an avid salsa dancer. [1] He sang the national anthem at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 when the Steelers played the Cleveland Browns.

Awards

Recordings

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Schweitzer Vivien: "Top Notes That Shatter The Glass Ceiling", The New York Times March 11, 2011
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Lawrence Brownlee: A Rising Star Arrives at the Met", NPR, April 22, 2007
  3. Woolfe, Zachary (4 May 2014). "Three Stars Who Navigate on High C's". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 ", Official Website
  5. 1 2 Jacobson, Bernard: "Seattle Opera's Barber of Seville marks a happy return for tenor Lawrence Brownlee", The Seattle Times , January 8, 2011
  6. "Homecoming: Lawrence Brownlee", Wolf Trap Opera Official Blog, August 14, 2011
  7. Donald Rosenberg: "Youngstown-born tenor Lawrence Brownlee finds contentment in the grandeur of opera and the intimacy of art songs". The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), May 16, 2010
  8. Tommasini, Anthony (18 April 2014). "Allowing a Puritan to Marry for Love". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  9. Woolfe, Zachary (4 May 2014). "Three Stars Who Navigate on High C's". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  10. DiDonato, Joyce: "Featured Artist in La Cenerentola", NPR, November 16, 2007
  11. "Opera-loving justices bring the music to the high court" by Robert Barnes, The Washington Post , May 17, 2010
  12. "Lawrence Brownlee: Tiny Desk Concert". NPR. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  13. Midgette, Anne (14 May 2014). "Lawrence Brownlee offers arc of self-revelation in Vocal Arts DC recital". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  14. "Charlie Parker's "Yardbird"". Opera Philadelphia. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  15. D'Astolfo, Guy: "A homecoming of sorts for Youngstown native Lawrence Brownlee", The New York Times , "Tuesday Musical", February 7, 2008)
  16. Seattle Opera (16 July 2008)