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Opera Philadelphia Appoints Tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Artistic Advisor

Opera Philadelphia announced today that Lawrence Brownlee has joined the company as an Artistic Advisor. In this position, the Grammy-nominated tenor – whose headlining appearance in Opera Philadelphia’s 2015 world premiere production of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD helped kick-start the company’s “big commitment to new repertoire” (Wall Street Journal) – will work with General Director & President David B. Devan and Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris 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.

It was Brownlee’s experience starring as Charlie Parker that sparked his interest in working with Opera Philadelphia’s artistic team, and his “stunningly voiced Parker” (Opera News) that helped affirm the company’s mission as a specialist in imaginative new work that resonates with a wide-ranging multicultural audience. The tenor comments:

“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. 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.”

David B. Devan responds:

“We are honored and thrilled to have Lawrence Brownlee step into this prominent role at Opera Philadelphia. 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 headlining appearance in 2015’s YARDBIRD marked Opera Philadelphia’s first world premiere in 40 years, joins the company at a time of burgeoning artistic creativity. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Opera Philadelphia offers the nation’s first comprehensive, operatic Composer-in-Residence program. Graduates of the three-year residency include Andrew Norman, Musical America’s 2017 Composer of the Year, and Missy Mazzoli, the 2016 world premiere of whose Breaking the Waves – created in collaboration with librettist Royce Vavrek – “stands among the best 21st-century American operas yet produced” (Opera News). Present incumbents of the residency are David T. Little, Rene Orth, and David Hertzberg, whose forthcoming opera The Wake World is one of three world premieres co-commissioned to highlight Opera Philadelphia’s first annual festival – O17 – this fall. The others are Elizabeth Cree, by composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell, and We Shall Not Be Moved, from composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, librettist Marc Bamuthi Joseph and director Bill T. Jones, which will then receive its New York premiere at Harlem’s Apollo Theater and its European premiere at London’s Hackney Empire. O17 also features the Philadelphia premiere of I Have No Stories To Tell You by librettist Hannah Moscovitch and composer Lembit Beecher, another recent alumnus of the residency program.

Brownlee’s hiring completes a stellar trio of artistic advisors at Opera Philadelphia. Opera and voice instructor Mikael Eliasen, who serves concurrently as 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, also employed as Executive and Artistic Director at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA, helps incorporate contemporary artistic practice from other forms and genres and provides guidance on festival O programming and structure.

About Lawrence Brownlee

Hailed by the Associated Press as one of “the world’s leading bel canto tenors,” Lawrence Brownlee has been nominated for the International Opera Award for “Male Singer of the Year 2017.” After creating the title role of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD for Opera Philadelphia’s world premiere production, he went on to headline last year’s celebrated New York premiere of the opera at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Having just wrapped its Midwest premiere at Lyric Opera of Chicago (March 24–26), he now looks forward to starring in English National Opera’s European premiere at London’s Hackney Empire (June 9–17). One of the most in-demand singers worldwide, the superstar tenor has also performed with nearly every leading international opera house and festival, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Zurich Opera, Berlin State Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Opera National de Paris, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, and the festivals of Salzburg and Baden Baden. Further information is available at

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. This September, Opera Philadelphia looks forward to launching the 2017-18 season with the inaugural edition of an immersive, 12-day festival featuring seven operatic happenings in six venues throughout the city. 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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Media Contacts
Opera Philadelphia: Frank Luzi, [email protected], (215) 893-5902
21C Media Group: Glenn Petry, [email protected], (212) 625-2038

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© 21C Media Group, March 2017

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