The Washington Post

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The Washington Post

A tenor looks beyond opera and explores being a black man in America

Lawrence Brownlee is among the most celebrated bel canto tenors alive. He regularly sings at the major opera companies around the world, and at 46, he’s at the peak of his career. Where do you go from there?

In Brownlee’s case, you commission new work exploring, in song, the experience of being a black man in America.

Brownlee is front and center in Washington this month. On Friday, he takes the tenor lead in Washington Concert Opera’s production of Rossini’s “Zelmira,” one of the less-performed serious operas by a composer best remembered for his comic romps. On Thursday, he appears in recital with Vocal Arts DC at the Kennedy Center. Washington has long been a kind of artistic home for Brownlee, going back to multiple appearances at Vocal Arts and the Washington National Opera, the Virginia Opera and even as a young artist at Wolf Trap in 2001. (He was going to return to Wolf Trap in the summer of 2002 but was invited to make his La Scala debut then.) Read more >

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Washington Classical Review

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Washington Classical Review

"Lawrence Brownlee strode onto the stage brimming with confidence for Ilo’s entrance aria, “Terra amica.” The American tenor delivered this extraordinary firebolt piece, which he revived in his Vocal Arts DC recital in 2016, with show-stopping authority. High notes rang with authority, including an endlessly sustained final note, and the complex runs and arpeggios crackled with verve in the concluding cabaletta. Although Brownlee was in excellent voice throughout, in both ensembles and arias, this piece was a tour de force."

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Parterre

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Parterre

"The tenor Lawrence Brownlee also made a stunning vocal contribution to the evening, first with a velvety, caressing version of “Un’ aura amorosa” from Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte, followed by a delightful, joyous rendition of Donizetti’s “Ah mes amis…” from La fille du regiment.  Never have all those high C’s been dispatched more effortlessly or beautifully.”

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Philly Inquirer

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Philly Inquirer

“ [Brownlee’s] bel canto moves and silver-sheen sound add up to his superpower. At one point, he held a high note so long that Owens jested by checking his watch-arm for the time.”

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Houstonia

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Houstonia

"Brownlee, in his role as the love-sick Nadir, was earnest and convincing, and his silky, gorgeous timbre in the the pianissimo sections “Oh divine ecstasy!” was among the vocal highlights of the night."

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Parterre

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Parterre

"The tenor role of Nadir, Zurga’s best friend, was played in outstanding fashion by Lawrence Brownlee, whose liquid tones perfectly suited the role."

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Houston Chronicle

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Houston Chronicle

"Making in his debut in the role, tenor Lawrence Brownlee brings real warmth to his early scene with Elliott and tenderness to his duets (on and offstage) with soprano Andrea Carroll’s Leïla."

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Houston Press

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Houston Press

"Brownlee, as Nadir, has no peer with this type of lyric tenor hero, where clarity and beauty of tone speaks pages.”

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Arts and Culture Texas

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Arts and Culture Texas

"Brownlee was able to give the character a flawless voice and a natural likeability. One of the foremost bel canto tenors on the scene today, his vibrant tone matched the youthful passion of his character."

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WCRB's 2018 In Concert of the Year

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WCRB's 2018 In Concert of the Year

“It was one of those special nights you hope every concert will be, where everything just clicks…Lawrence Brownlee gave a performance that left no doubt as to why he’s one of the best tenors in the world.”

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Olyrix

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Olyrix

"His romantic phrases are very lyrical and effortless in every register, and his charming smile adds to his sparkling high notes."

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Epoch Times

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Epoch Times

”Do I believe in fate? I do. I think you can take advantage of fate with hard work; I don’t think that fate without preparation works,” says Lawrence Brownlee, one of the most in-demand male voices in opera. A practical statement, to be sure, but Brownlee soon revealed he was skeptical about the start of his own journey.

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Trouw - Netherlands

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Trouw - Netherlands

“Brownlee and Spyres are tenors who are out of this world, for whom really no C goes too high. They beautifully matched the sound of the resonant Residentie Orkest and conductor Michael Balke.”

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NRC-Netherlands

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NRC-Netherlands

The famous opera podiatrists applaud American Lawrence Brownlee for his honeyed, shimmering belcanto tones , which will be heard for the first time in the Concertgebouw next Wednesday. But those notes, he says, only embody one side of his soul. The black tenor puts his fame and also votes for the Black Lives Matter movement. As artistic advisor to the opera in Philadelphia, he was a driving force behind the emergence of two modern-classical pieces that reflect the raw black reality in America: the opera Yardbird , about saxophonist Charlie Parker, and the song series Cycles of My Being , about the murder of a black man in a police cell.”

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Res Musica

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Res Musica

"As a teenager addicted to his phone, Lawrence Brownlee is remarkably natural in the role of Ernesto. One will never sufficiently underline the elegance of this singer, too rare on Parisian stages. All is fluid, linked, clear and direct, with beautiful colors that aptly translate the emotions of adolescence."

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Toute la Culture

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Toute la Culture

"A true revelation in this Don Pasquale, Lawrence Brownlee enchants us throughout the opera and even in a teenager's sweatshirt and cap he moves us with "Povero Ernesto!" as well as the distant "Com'e gentil a Notte," sung backstage."

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Opera Online

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Opera Online

“The American tenor Lawrence Brownlee is an Ernesto with a warm and soft timbre...he excels in his serenade.”

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Olyrix

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Olyrix

“Lawrence Brownlee is an Ernesto with clear high notes, exalted in a full voice and soft in a mixed voice. The timbre is rich and warm, notably in the medium and the neat legato. When low, the timbre is full-bodied and pleasant. His light vibrato maintains a contained and regular rhythm. His phrasing most often shows his courage, but he's able to become delicate in his duo with Nadine Sierra.”

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