Published17 Sep 2020
Sopranos Lindsey Reynolds, Sarah Shafer, and Karen Slack join tenor Lawrence Brownlee to launch the Opera Philadelphia Channel on Friday, October 23
Additional premiere dates include Verdi’s La traviata on Friday, October 30 and Tyshawn Sorey’s Cycles of My Being on Friday, November 20
Lawrence Brownlee captivates audiences around the world, hailed as “an international star” (New York Times) and “one of this generation's greatest tenors” (ABC News). Having joined Opera Philadelphia as Artistic Advisor in 2017, Brownlee will take a starring role this fall in the debut of the Opera Philadelphia Channel, a global platform that will bring a robust 2020-2021 season into opera lovers’ homes via their television screens and streaming devices.
The tenor takes center stage in the first performance created for the channel, “Lawrence Brownlee & Friends in Philadelphia,” a recital and conversation program in which he is joined by sopranos Lindsey Reynolds, Sarah Shafer, and Karen Slack, accompanied by pianist Myra Huang. The show will premiere on Friday, October 23, at 8:00 p.m. EST, and remain available on-demand throughout the season.
“I am thrilled to invite everyone to join us for a night of arias, songs, spirituals, and conversation as we launch this exciting digital season on the Opera Philadelphia Channel,” Brownlee said. “We all need music in our lives right now, and I am so happy to have this opportunity to sing with three incredible sopranos with deep ties to the city of Philadelphia, Lindsey Reynolds, Sarah Shafer, and Karen Slack, joined by my longtime friend and collaborator, Myra Huang, on piano."
New Orleans-born soprano Lindsey Reynolds, called a “ravishing lyric soprano” (Parterre Box), currently resides in Philadelphia, where she received her undergraduate degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and is currently pursuing her Master of Music. A versatile artist, Reynolds’ repertoire encompasses opera, musicals, concerts, and interarts collaboration. She is known to Opera Philadelphia and Curtis Opera Theatre audiences for roles such as Zerlina in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Monica in Menotti’s The Medium, and Cathleen in Vaughan Williams’ Riders to the Sea.
Praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer for her “crystalline sound, perfectly true intonation, glowing warmth, and total presence” as well as, “a singer to watch” by Opera News, American soprano Sarah Shafer actively appears on the leading operatic and concert stages of the world. A native of State College, PA, she holds degrees in voice and opera from the Curtis Institute of Music and is currently based in Philadelphia. The 2019-2020 season saw Shafer return to Opera Philadelphia for a comedic turn as Iris in Semele.
Hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty, a seamless legato, and great dramatic depth, American soprano Karen Slack is a Philadelphia native and a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music. In recent seasons she has appeared as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Leonora in Il trovatore, and Tosca with Arizona Opera; as Aïda at Austin Opera; Emelda Griffith in Champion with New Orleans Opera; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera; Violetta in La traviata with Sacramento Opera; and Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking with both Minnesota Opera and Vancouver Opera. She returned to Opera Philadelphia for a series of recital programs during Festival O19.
Acclaimed by Opera News as being "among the top accompanists of her generation" and "...a colouristic tour de force" by the New York Times, Grammy® Award-nominated pianist Myra Huang is highly sought after for her interpretation of lieder and art song as well as her depth of musicianship and impeccable technique. Last season, Huang performed in recitals throughout the U.S., including The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, The Kennedy Center, The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, and the 92nd St Y. Huang was chosen as the recipient of The Samuel Sanders Collaborative Artist Award for 2019 by the Classical Recording Foundation for her consummate artistry.
Following the premiere of “Lawrence Brownlee & Friends in Philadelphia,” the tenor will take part in two additional fall premieres on the Opera Philadelphia Channel.
Premiering on Friday, October 30, at 7:00 p.m.
In October 2015, rising soprano Lisette Oropesa made her role debut as Violetta in a new production of Verdi’s La traviata at the Academy of Music, serving notice that this would be one of the definitive roles of her career. “To judge from her first attempt at the role, Lisette Oropesa bids fair to be among its great exponents in her generation,” wrote David Shengold in Opera News.
Oropesa has gone on to perform the role at some of the world’s largest opera houses, including what the New York Times called a “star-making” turn at the Metropolitan Opera in February 2020.
In a special look back, Opera Philadelphia presents the digital premiere of Paul Curran’s renowned production, called “an impressive high-water mark” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. The broadcast will be preceded by an interview with Oropesa conducted by Lawrence Brownlee and featuring Jack Mulroney Music Director Corrado Rovaris, who reflect on the preparations that went into the important role debut and looking back on the five-year anniversary of the production, which co-starred tenor Alek Shrader (Alfredo) and baritone Stephen Powell (Germont).
Cycles of My Being
Premiering on Friday, November 20, at 8:00 p.m.
Brownlee will also take center stage for the digital premiere of Cycles of My Being, a song cycle that centers on what it means to be a Black man living in America today, on Friday, November 20, at 8:00 p.m. Composed by multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey, who is currently Opera Philadelphia’s Composer in Residence, with lyrics by the award-winning poet Terrance Hayes, both of whom are MacArthur “genius grant” winners, the song cycle received its world premiere with the company in 2018.
Cycles of My Being, a co-commission with Carnegie Hall and Lyric Opera of Chicago, had its world premiere on February 20, 2018 in Philadelphia. The San Francisco Chronicle called the song cycle “a work of both anguish and optimism, at once accusatory and stirring...whose traversal feels like a descent into a maelstrom followed by the emergence out the other side.” The Philadelphia Inquirer noted, “The emotional intensity of the evening was shaped to a greater purpose… It was like Schubert. But of now, and us.”
“These are divided times, but the goal of Cycles of My Being is neither to widen those rifts, nor to re-open old wounds,” Brownlee said. “The goal is foster mutual respect, understanding, and communication across races and generations. History unfolds in cycles, and with this work, we hope to balance the stark challenges of our present reality with a resolute resilience, and an unwavering hope for a better future.”
About the Opera Philadelphia Channel
Launching in October 2020, the Opera Philadelphia Channel will create a digital space in which artists can perform and explore, through a series of new commissions by visionary composers and dynamic performances produced for the screen. Annual subscriptions priced at $99 will be offered along with pay-per-view options for individual performances. The channel will be available for viewing on computers and mobile devices, and on TV screens via Chromecast and the Opera Philadelphia Channel app on AppleTV, Android TV, Roku, and Amazon FireTV. For more information, visit operaphila.org.