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Commentary

Lawrence Brownlee (Photo by Dario Acosta)
17 Sep 2008

Lawrence Brownlee Expands Repertoire in 2008-09 Season

The remarkable Lawrence Brownlee has proven himself to be one of the most prominent bel canto tenors on the international scene.

Lawrence Brownlee Expands Repertoire in 2008-09 Season

Above: Lawrence Brownlee (Photo by Dario Acosta)

 

He is lauded continually for the beauty of his voice, his seemingly effortless technical agility, and his dynamic and engaging dramatic skills. His schedule regularly comprises a varied array of debuts and return engagements at renowned music centers for appearances with the world’s pre-eminent opera companies, orchestras and presenting organizations.

Mr. Brownlee’s 2008-09 season finds him firmly ensconced in the bel canto music for which he is so admired, adding a trio of new characters to his repertoire: two by Rossini and one by Donizetti. His first engagements are performing what has become his calling-card role, Il Conte Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, in three of Germany’s leading houses. At Dresden’s Sächsische Staatsoper (August 28, 30 & September 8) he courts and slyly plans his elopement with the lovely Rosina (Carmen Oprisanu), joined on stage by Fabio Maria Capitanucci (as the enterprising Figaro), Michael Eder (as the overprotective and slightly lecherous Don Bartolo), and Kurt Rydl and Georg Zeppenfeld (sharing the honors as the oily Don Basilio); the production is by Grischa Asagaroff and Riccardo Frizza conducts. For the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin (Unter den Linden) he appears in the Company’s classic Ruth Berghaus production (September 16, 20, 26 & 30), donning various disguises in an attempt to fool his love’s guardian, in the company of Katharina Kammerloher, Alfredo Daza, Bruno de Simone and Alexander Vinogradov, with Julien Salemkour leading from the pit. For Mr. Brownlee’s first time at the Festspiele Baden-Baden (October 3 & 5) he treads the boards in the same Bartlett Sher Barbiere production in which he made his spectacular 2007 Metropolitan Opera debut. Here his colleagues are: Anna Bonitatibus, Franco Vassallo, Maurizio Muraro & Reinhard Dorn, all conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. He participates in the Richard Tucker Music Foundation’s Annual Lincoln Center Gala (October 26) where he joins a starry roster that, as of this writing, includes: Maria Guleghina, Hei-Kyung Hong, Marcello Giordani, Željko Lučić and Paulo Szot, with Patrick Summers at the helm. (Mr. Brownlee’s has twice been recognized by the RTMF: in 2003, when he was the winner of a Career Grant, and in 2006, at which time he was the Foundation’s Award winner.) With the Opera Company of Philadelphia he appears as Lindoro in a Stefano Vizioli production of L’italiana in Algeri, conducted by one of his mentors, Company Music Director Corrado Rovaris (November 14, 16m, 19, 21, & 23m). Mr. Brownlee’s Lindoro ultimately escapes confinement and is reunited with his lady-love, the enterprising Isabella (Ruxandra Donose); Daniel Belcher (Taddeo) and Kevin Glavin (Mustafà) play Mr. Brownlee’s foiled rivals for the Italian lady’s affections. (His first OCP engagement was in November 2006 in Cenerentola.)

The tenor starts off the new year with a guest stint on a gala tribute to Plácido Domingo offered by the New Orleans Opera (January 17). Following that are three recitals, all accompanied by his long-time collaborator, pianist Martin Katz. January 24 marks his first time on the Spivey Hall Series at Clayton State University, outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Next is a joint-recital with soprano Sarah Coburn at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater (January 31) as part of the Vocal Arts Society’s series. (Washington has played an important part in the tenor’s career, having witnessed his artistry in: four recitals, including one as the recipient of the Marian Anderson Award; Carmina Burana with the National Symphony; as well as in three projects with Washington Concert Opera, La donna del lago, Tancredi & I Puritani). The final recital is for the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan (February 7), site of his 2006 Tancredi with the Detroit Symphony. In Europe, Mr. Brownlee does another trio of Barbieres: for his return to the Wiener Staatsoper (February 12 & 15) in the venerable and much-loved Günther Rennert production with Michaela Selinger, Carlos Alvarez, Wolfgang Bankl & Janusz Monarcha, conducted by Marc Piollet. (His introduction to the Viennese public was in this same role in 2006); for a reprise run at the Unter den Linden (February 17 & 20), in which he joins forces with Katharina Kammerloher, Alfredo Daza, Renato Girolami & TBA, all led by Asher Fisch; and finally in a Gilbert Deflo production at the Staatsoper Hamburg (February 28) with Maria-Christina Damian, George Petean, Renato Girolami & Wilhelm Schwinghammer, with Alexander Winterson marshalling the musical forces. (The tenor’s Hamburg debut was in La fille du régiment in 2006, which he subsequently repeated in 2007). A new role follows, as Giannetto in La gazza ladra, for Bologna’s Teatro Comunale, March 22 – 31. (His initial time with the Company was in 2004 as Comte Ory). He performs this Rossini rarity with: Mariola Cantarero/Paula Almerales, Silvia Trò Santafe/José Maria Lo Monaco; Simone Alberghini/Luca Tittoto, and Alex Esposito/TBA; the director is Damiano Michieletto teaming up with conductor Michele Mariotti. Mr. Brownlee returns to the Metropolitan Opera, this time as a Prince, Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola (May 1, 6 & 9), reuniting him with his Met-debut conductor, Maurizio Benini, and Elīna Garanča as the rags-to-riches Angelina, his Rosina on their Sony recording of Barbiere. The remainder of the ensemble includes: Simone Alberghini (Dandini), Alessandro Corbelli (Don Magnifico) and John Relyea (Alidoro) in a production by Cesare Lievi. The last of these performances is part of the Met’s series of high definition transmissions to movie theaters around the world. Previously heard and seen in Trieste’s Teatro Verdi in Cenerentola, the tenor now brings his L’italiana Lindoro there, led by Bruno Campanella (May 29, 31; June 3, 9 [10]). He repeats a run of Barbieres in Hamburg (June 7, 20, 23 & 25) with a slightly different cast (Silvia Tro Santafé, Oleg Romashyn, Renato Girolami & Tigran Martirossian), before concluding his season in the U.S. with triple debuts: his introductory booking at the Caramoor Festival in New York, where he presents himself in two new roles: Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore (July 18) and Idreno in Semiramide, (August 1), both helmed by bel canto specialist Will Crutchfield. The remainder of the cast of L’elisir is still to be announced; Semiramide also features Angela Meade (as the guilt-stricken eponymous Queen of Babylonia), Vivica Genaux (as the warrior-prince Arsace) and Daniel Mobbs (as the murderous Assur).

The 2008-09 season sees the release of two of Mr. Brownlee’s most recently completed CDs, both on labels new for the tenor and centered around the works of Rossini: on Naxos, L’italiana in Algeri conducted by Alberto Zedda, taken from the live 2008 performances at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival; and, on Opera Rara, an exploration of the composer’s song output, for which he is joined by colleagues Mireille Delunsch, Jennifer Larmore, Catharine Wyn-Rogers, Mark Wilde and Brindley Sherratt, with Malcolm Martineau at the piano. The summer of 2008 saw the DVD release by Decca of a performance from the Covent Garden world premiere run of Lorin Maazel’s 1984, in which the tenor created the role of Syme.

For further information, please access Mr. Brownlee’s website at: www.lawrencebrownlee.com

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