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Barber of Seville

Lawrence Brownlee is one of the stars of "The Barber of Seville" at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee is enjoying his return to the Lyric Opera stage.

"It's nice to be back. It feels like coming back home," said Brownlee, who is one of the stars of "The Barber of Seville," the Lyric Opera's current production.

"The Barber of Seville" continues to Oct. 27 at Chicago's Lyric Opera House. The production is the opening show of Lyric Opera's 65th season.

Brownlee portrays Count Almaviva, who seeks the help of Figaro, the barber, in trying to woo and win the hand of the beautiful Rosina. It's a comical production filled with charming compositions and is sung in Italian with English subtitles.

"It's a role I feel I know pretty well," said Brownlee, about bringing the count to life. Brownlee said he's performed in "The Barber of Seville" many times around the world and has always portrayed Count Almaviva.

The singer said he's always enjoyed performing in Rossini's popular opera.

"I love 'The Barber of Seville.' I think it's the perfect opera," Brownlee said, adding it has great music, wonderful characterizations and impressive comedic timing.

He said one of the challenges in performing the opera is indeed that comedic timing.

"You have to get the timing right," he said. Brownlee said when one gets that timing down pat, it enhances the operatic work as well.

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Brownlee said rehearsals for the Lyric Opera's "Barber" production began at the beginning of September. The cast had about 3 1/2 weeks of rehearsal before the show officially opened at the end of September.

Music was always a big part of Brownlee's life. He grew up in Ohio and music was always played at home. Brownlee played a variety of musical instruments at a young age and also sang in church.

"Music (and singing) was just something innate," he said during a past interview.

When Brownlee has some downtime and listens to music, he said his musical tastes are somewhat varied.

"I listen to vocal jazz, gospel, some old school Motown and hip-hop from the '80s and '90s," he said. Brownlee also likes the music from the '70s and artists such as Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson.

"I love music in general," he said.

Brownlee, a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington, is known as one of opera's premiere bel canto tenors.

FYI: "The Barber of Seville" continues to Oct. 27 at Lyric Opera House, 20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago. Tickets start at $49 for adults and $20 for children. For tickets, call 312-827-5600 or visit lyricopera.org/Barber.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.