September 22, 2022

Spotlight on Lawrence Brownlee

A familiar face—and voice—at Lyric, tenor Lawrence Brownlee has been an audience favorite since his company debut in 2015. Here, we take a look back at some of his operatic triumphs and sold-out concerts at the Lyric Opera House and around the city of Chicago.

Lawrence Brownlee as Prince Ramiro in Rossini's La Cenerentola, 2015/16 Season.

In the fall of 2015, internationally renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee made his long-awaited Lyric debut as Don Ramiro in Rossini's bel canto gem, La Cenerentola. It was the beginning of a fruitful relationship with the company.

Brownlee also scored a triumph in this, his belated Lyric debut... His light lyric tenor, bright of timbre and absolutely secure in his dizzying flights into the coloratura heavens, shone in the capstone Act 2 aria in which Ramiro launches his search for the unknown beauty (Angelina, of course) he met at the ball. How many tenors have you heard who can nail high Cs, and above, without resorting to falsetto? Brownlee can, and did so resplendently, bringing down the house.

Chicago Tribune

Lawrence Brownlee as Arturo in Bellini's I Puritani, 2017/18 Season.

Brownlee returned to Lyric in the 2017/18 Season as Arturo in Bellini's I Puritani, showcasing his incomparable voice that effortlessly sails past high Cs and beyond.

Lawrence Brownlee is a technician in the bel canto repertoire. It's notable how easy he makes singing in such a high register look in his Arturo.


Lawrence Brownlee as Count Almaviva in our 2019/20 production of Rossini's The Barber of Seville alongside Krzysztof Bączyk as Basilio.

In the 2019/20 Season, Brownlee brought one of his signature roles to Lyric as the lovesick Count Almaviva in Rossini's The Barber of Seville.

Lawrence Brownlee wrung every possible ounce of humor from the role of Count Almaviva...Brownlee also finessed the dizzying flurries of notes assigned to the Count without sacrificing beauty of sound.

Chicago Tribune

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens perform in recital with pianist Craig Terry, 2016/17 Season.

Brownlee has also been involved in multiple successful concerts at Lyric, including a critically acclaimed duo recital with bass-baritone Eric Owens in Spring 2017, and Lawrence Brownlee and Friends in Fall 2019. Recently, Brownlee participated in Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter, a virtual concert held amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that showcased different arias and spiritual pieces, with frequent collaborator, Craig Terry and alumni and current Ensemble members of The Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center.

Lawrence Brownlee in the title role of Charlie Parker's Yardbird alongside Angela Brown as his mother, Addie Parker, in the 2016/17 Season.

In addition to mainstage operas, Brownlee also serves as an Ambassador for Lyric's education and community engagement division and has appeared in multiple community events and chamber operas.

He's also been a champion of new music. In our 2016/2017 Season, he performed the title role in Charlie Parker's Yardbird (Schnyder/Wimberly), a role he created at Opera Philadelphia. And in February of 2018, he brought Tyshawn Sorey and Terrance Hayes's powerful song cycle, Cycles of My Being, to Chicago audiences. Performed at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the work explores the realities of life as a Black man in America.

"Inhale, Exhale" from Cycles of My Being

Tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs "Inhale, Exhale" from Cycles of My Being (Sorey/Hayes) with pianist Myra Huang for WQXR.

In great demand at top opera houses and concert halls around the world, Brownlee performs regularly at The Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, and the Royal Opera House – Covent Garden, as well as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, and the Kennedy Center.

While maintaining a strong relationship with Lyric, Brownlee also serves as artistic advisor for Opera Philadelphia, as a Peace Ambassador for an initiative called Opera for Peace, and as a strong advocate for Autism Awareness.

"Ah, mes amis"

Internationally renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee performs "Ah, mes amis" from Donizetti's Daughter of the Regiment with frequent collaborator Craig Terry on piano during "Lawrence Brownlee and Friends: The Next Chapter."

This captivating bel canto star returns to Lyric in the title role of Rossini's Le Comte Ory, November 13-26. A favorite role of his, Brownlee has been celebrated as the amorous Count at top houses around the world. Experience the comedy, wit, and joy of this beautiful Rossini opera — onstage for the first time at Lyric this fall.

Photos: Kyle Flubacker, Todd Rosenberg