Lawrence Brownlee performing in 'Barber of Seville' at Houston Grand Opera


by Len Cannon / KHOU 11 News

Posted on October 27, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 27 at 6:01 PM

HOUSTON – Lawrence Brownlee is one of the top singers in the world, having performed before royalty and at professional sporting events.

You probably wouldn’t recognize him walking down the street, but keep your eyes peeled – he’s in Houston this week.

Brownlee is one of the world’s most sought-after tenors, and he’s currently performing in the Houston Grand Opera’s production of "The Barber of Seville."

In "The Barber of Seville," Brownlee plays the role of Count Almaviva, who tries to win the affections of a woman he has fallen for. It’s the kind of story Brownlee says everyone can relate to.

"I think if you see the relationships [of the characters] as humans, I think anyone can come to the opera and appreciate it," Brownlee said.

But Brownlee didn’t always sing opera. He said he grew up singing in the church, where his favorite hymn was "Great Is Thy Faithfulness."

These days, though, he usually sings in Italian, while wearing makeup and a costume.

So how does a guy raised on Gospel music in Ohio wind up being an opera star?

Brownlee said it was mostly by accident, after he sang classical music – just for fun – at a recital in high school.

"And afterward, a gentleman approached me and said, ‘You know, you have a real special talent. You should pursue classical music.’ And I thought, ‘Me? No way. Opera? No, no,’" Brownlee said.

Still, he gave it a shot – figuring if he didn’t make it, he would go to law school after college.

And as it turns out, the opera thing worked out pretty well.

You can catch Brownlee at the Houston Grand Opera through November 6.