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). Mr. Brownlee was named 2017 “Male Singer of the Year” by the International Opera Awards, and also serves as Artistic Advisor at Opera Philadelphia, helping the company to expand their repertoire, diversity efforts and community initiatives.
In the 22-23 season, Brownlee performed a program with Rossini expert Michael Spyres titled “Amici e Rivali” at the Theatre des Champs-Élysées in January 2023, in addition to the premiere of “Rising” featuring commissioned songs by composers Shawn Okpebholo, Damien Sneed, Joel Thompson, and others with texts drawn from Black writers of the Harlem Renaissance. He made his role debut as Rodrigo in Rossini’s Otello as part of Opera Philadelphia’s Festival O22, and returned to Lyric Opera of Chicago for the title role of Le comte Ory, and as Elvino in Bellini’s La Sonnambula at Teatro Real in Madrid. Brownlee also performed one of his signature Rossini roles as Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Tamino in a new production of Die Zauberflöte.
In spring 2021, Brownlee joined The Juilliard School as a Distinguished Visiting Faculty Member. 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 an Ambassador for Opera for Peace.
Mr. Brownlee has performed with nearly every major orchestra in the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, and the festivals of Salzburg and Baden Baden.
In addition, Mr. Brownlee has appeared on the stages of the top opera companies around the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, Royal Opera House - Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Opéra national de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, and Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie. 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.
Mr. Brownlee’s 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?” 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 Accademia di Santa Cecilia, and Carmina Burana with the Berliner Philharmoniker. He also released a disc of African-American spirituals entitled Spiritual Sketches with pianist Damien Sneed.
Mr. 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.