Larry Everston Brownlee, Jr., one of six children, wasborn on November 24, 1972 in Youngstown, Ohio. His father, a General Motors plant worker who was also choir director atPhillips Chapel Church of God in Christ, commanded his son to perform so oftenthat he later recalled, “I used to absolutely hate singing.” Intending to become a lawyer when he enrolledat Youngstown State University, he soon changed his major to music and transferredto Anderson University, a private Christian school near Indianapolis, Indiana,where he developed a passion for opera. Afull scholarship allowed him to graduate with a master’s degree from the IndianaUniversity Jacobs School of Music in 2001, the same year that he won the prestigiousMetropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and, in the summer, he participatedin the Young Artist Program at the Wolf Trap Opera Company in Vienna, Virginia.
In 2002, Brownlee, a tenor, first performed what would become his signatureoperatic role—that of wealthy Count Almaviva, the successful suitor of thebeautiful Rosina in The Barber of Seville—atthe Virginia Opera in Norfolk, Virginia, performed in Porgy and Bess with the New York Philharmonic, sang in Bach’s Magnificat with the Cincinnati Symphony,and made his debut at the world-renowned La Scala (Teatro alla Scala) in Milan,Italy, starring in Rossini’s L’italianain Algeri.
Over the next decade, he appeared in, among others, Handel’s Messiah (Houston Symphony) and Israel in Egypt (Cleveland Symphony); LorinMaazel’s 1984 (Covent Garden, London);Donizetti’s La fille du regiment(Hamburg State Opera, Germany); Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (Chicago Symphony); CarlOrff’s Carmina Burana (BostonSymphony at Tanglewood and Carnegie Hall, New York City); and in concerts andrecitals in Paris and Toulouse, France; Tokyo, Japan; Berlin, Munich, and Dresdenin Germany; Vienna, Austria; and Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland. He also performed in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Detroit (Michigan), SanFrancisco (California), Atlanta (Georgia), Seattle (Washington), and