Lawrence Brownlee joins Opera Philadelphia as Artistic Advisor

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Opera Philadelphia announced today that Lawrence Brownlee, whose lead performance in the 2015 world premiere of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD kick started the company’s “big commitment to new repertoire” (The Wall Street Journal), has joined the company as an Artistic Advisor. In this position, Brownlee will work with General Director & President David B. Devan and Corrado Rovaris, the Jack Mulroney Music Director, to advise and advocate for expanded repertoire, provide insights on diversity in artistic practices and community initiatives, and collaborate with senior management in identifying and securing financial support for the company.

Brownlee’s “stunningly voiced Parker” (Opera News) in June 2015 affirmed Opera Philadelphia’s mission as a 21st-century opera company that inspires artists to create their most imaginative work that resonates and excites a varied audience. The superstar tenor, one of the most in-demand singers around the world, led an acclaimed 2016 production of the opera at The Apollo Theater in Harlem and just wrapped a celebrated interpretation of Parker with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (March 24-26). He will next sing the European premiere with English National Opera at Hackney Empire in London (June 9-17). His experience with the role of Parker sparked his interest in working with Opera Philadelphia’s artistic team.

“I’m honored and humbled to join the extraordinary team at Opera Philadelphia, and in my role as Artistic Advisor, I look forward to working with them towards their mission of moving the art form forward and changing the very notion of what opera can be,” said Lawrence Brownlee. “Whether it be helping with the creation of groundbreaking new works like YARDBIRD, Breaking the Waves, and We Shall Not Be Moved, working to build new relationships and partnerships in the U.S. and internationally, or expanding the reach and diversity of audiences, I’m excited to be an agent of change in an organization that is truly committed to building the future of opera.”

The hiring of Brownlee completes a renowned trio of artistic advisors at Opera Philadelphia. Opera and voice instructor Mikael Eliasen, currently Dean of Vocal Studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and Artistic Director of the Curtis Opera Theatre, advises the company on repertoire planning, casting, composer support and the Curtis Institute of Music/Opera Philadelphia partnership. Artist and curator Kristy Edmunds, currently Executive and Artistic Director at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, helps shape ways to incorporate contemporary artistic practice from other forms and genres and provides guidance on festival O programming and structure.

“We are honored and thrilled to have Lawrence Brownlee step into this prominent role at Opera Philadelphia,” said David B. Devan. “This partnership is born out of a genuine alignment between our company goals of inspiring artists and audiences, and an artist who has an authentic track record as a performer with nearly every leading international opera house and festival all over the world. Larry has been contributing to our company on stage since 2006, and helped to champion the creation of the chamber opera Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD in 2015. We believe that in this new position, he will play a key role in making Philadelphia the stage for the future of opera, where diverse audiences gather to share an experience and amplify human connectedness. We are also excited to work with Larry to commission a new opera which he will perform in a future season.”

Brownlee, whose appearance in 2015’s YARDBIRD marked Opera Philadelphia’s first world premiere in 40 years, joins the company at a time of great artistic output. The 2016 world premiere of Breaking the Waves by composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek “stands among the best twenty-first-century American operas yet produced” (Opera News). The company will present three world premieres in September 2017 as part of its first annual festival, O17: Elizabeth Cree, from composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, at the Perelman Theater; The Wake World, by composer in residence David Hertzberg, to be staged in the Barnes Foundation; and We Shall Not Be Moved, by composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and director Bill T. Jones, which premieres at the Wilma Theater in September before making its New York premiere at The Apollo Theater and its European premiere at Hackney Empire in London, both in October.

Brownlee’s voice, praised by NPR as “an instrument of great beauty and expression…perfectly suited to the early nineteenth century operas of Rossini and Donizetti,” has brought him to the top of opera world, ushering in “a new golden age in high male voices” (The New York Times). His recent recording of Virtuoso Rossini Arias earned a GRAMMY™ Award nomination, and prompted New Yorker critic Alex Ross to ask, “Is there a finer Rossini tenor than Lawrence Brownlee?”

Recently nominated for “Male Singer of the Year” in the 2017 International Opera Awards, he has performed with nearly every leading international opera house and festival, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, The Vienna State Opera, Opera National de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich, the Berlin State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, and the festivals of Salzburg and Baden Baden.

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About Opera Philadelphia

Opera Philadelphia is committed to embracing innovation and developing opera for the 21st century. Described as “the very model of a modern opera company” by the Washington Post, Opera Philadelphia was the only American finalist for the 2016 International Opera Award for Best Opera Company. The company offers a wide variety of programs and performances, both on stage and in the community, which reach deep into Philadelphia. The company is charting a bold new path to September 2017, when Opera Philadelphia will open its 2017-18 season with an immersive, 12-day festival featuring seven operatic happenings in six venues throughout the city. The first festival, “O17,” will feature three world premieres and a Philadelphia premiere, plus the exclusive East Coast appearance of Barrie Kosky’s groundbreaking production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and a recital by superstar soprano Sondra Radvanovsky. Opera Philadelphia will continue to present a spring season each year, including two additional productions in February and April, making it the only U.S. opera company producing an annual opera season that begins with a dynamic festival. The company’s community initiatives provide agency for residents to author their own transformative journey of self-discovery through programs in schools, cultural organizations, and community centers.

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