Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sergio A. Mims: Ebony: Black Men Storm the Gates of Classical Opera: Lawrence Brownlee, Issachah Savage and Jamaica’s Rory Frankson follow the lead of Leontyne Price

Rory Frankson, Lawrence Brownlee and Issachah Savage

Sergio A. Mims writes:

I think you would be interested in this Ebony interview with Lawrence Brownlee and other black male opera singers:

31 March 2015

By Janelle Watkins

Black female opera singers have long been some of the most respected within the classical world—ask anyone to list the top 10 opera singers of all time and the list will invariably include several singers of color. Leontyne Price. Marian Anderson. Martina Arroyo. Grace Bumbry. Shirley Verrett. These are just a few who’ve been celebrated throughout the world for their operatic genius.
Now it seems that it’s young Black men who are leaving their indelible mark in the world of classical music and opera. And their mark is by no means negligible.
Enter Lawrence Brownlee, Issachah Savage and Rory Frankson.

Lawrence Brownlee (42) is one of the most sought after lyric tenors in the bel canto repertoire. The veteran of this group, he began his career in 2002, proceeding directly to one of the top three opera houses in the world, La Scala Milan, to sing in a leading role—a feat typically unheard of in the world of opera. That role, which has become his signature character, was Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Brownlee’s career has seen him sing in virtually all of the world’s top opera houses.

Issachah Savage (36) was the winner of the 2014 Seattle International Wagner Competition, earning a trifecta of awards including the main, audience and orchestra favorite prizes. He was also bestowed special honor by Seattle Opera’s general director Speight Jenkins (renowned for awarding special opportunities to Black male singers), who invited Savage to sing alongside opera greats including Clifton Forbis, Stephanie Blythe and Greer Grimsley at his retirement gala
Rory Frankson (34) is a Jamaican baritone who has yet to make it on the main stage, but whose spark, personality and voice has everyone who hears him cheering him on. Frankson currently sings his way through the Caribbean at the various Sandals resorts, bringing his brand of classical music into the hotels and throughout the islands. He’s sold over 2,000 copies of his first album, You Are the One, which for an indie artist with no airplay or publicity is no small feat.
The interesting thing is that all three singers entered the classical realm quite by chance.

Comment by email:
Great!  Many thanks.  Savage, by the way, was a student of Betty Ridgeway at Morgan, who also taught Kishna Davis (a private student of Leontyne Price) and Kevin Short (leading man all over Europe), as well as those who worked with Stevie Wonder.  Dominique-René de Lerma

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