Babbling brooks, young love, broken hearts: standard topics for classical song cycles from Schubert onward, and for most opera singers a key part of their concert hall careers. Not for the 45-year-old US tenor Lawrence Brownlee, one of the world’s leading bel canto stars. He has never yet sung any of these standard repertoire works. He wanted material he could relate to. US urban not European pastoral, a reek of the blues, a snarl of reality. Why not the story of a black man murdered in police custody?

Since nothing touching on such a subject existed, Brownlee and Opera Philadelphia, where he is an artistic adviser, set about commissioning a new work. He will premiere Cycles of My Being, composed by the eclectic pianist-percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, with a libretto by the award-wining poet Terrance Hayes, next month in Philadelphia, with further performances at Lyric Opera, Chicago, and Carnegie Hall, New York.

 

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Source: Opera News from the UK Guardian