Opera Philadelphia and the Apollo Theater present Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, composed by Daniel Schnyder with a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly, in a New York premiere marking the first time opera is performed on the Apollo Theater stage, and the first time Opera Philadelphia produces in New York City. Listen on WRTI, Saturday, November 19th at 1 pm.
Set in the famed Birdland jazz club on March 12, 1955, the day Charlie Parker died, the opera invites audiences directly into the mind and heart of the great saxophonist as he composes his final masterpiece, and revisits the inspirations, demons, and women who fueled his creative genius.
The New York premiere reunites Lawrence Brownlee, the “energetic, bright-voiced tenor” (The New York Times) in the lead role as the legendary jazz saxophonist, with much of the original cast alongside Maestro Corrado Rovaris and the Opera Philadelphia Orchestra, who performed the work’s world premiere to five sold-out audiences in June 2015 in Philadelphia.
Parker had a rich history with the Apollo and performed at the Theater many times, beginning in 1943 with the Earl Hines Orchestra—including Little Benny Harris, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. During his many engagements at the Apollo, Parker developed the bebop style and also experimented with classical and other musical forms.
In the empty twilight between life and death, saxophonist Charlie Parker composes his final masterpiece, revisiting the inspirations, demons, and women who fueled his creative genius.
Acclaimed as “a swift-paced chamber opera with a pulsing, jazz-infused score” (The New York Times), YARDBIRD stars Lawrence Brownlee as the legendary saxophonist—a role crafted around the effortless, improvisational style that makes him one of music’s most sought after tenors.
Soprano Angela Brown mesmerizes as his mother, Addie Parker, and baritone Will Liverman portrays jazz icon Dizzy Gillespie. Set in the famed NYC jazz club Birdland, the opera is as uncompromising in its artistic vision as the “Yardbird” himself.
COMPOSER: Daniel Schnyder
LIBRETTO: Bridgette Wimberly
Charlie Parker: Lawrence Brownlee
Addie Parker: Angela Brown
Chan Parker: Emily Pogorelc
Doris Parker: Elena Perroni
Rebecca Parker: Chrystal E. Williams
Dizzy Gillespie: Will Liverman
Baroness Pannonica (“Nica”)
De Koenigswarter: Tamara Mumford
ENSEMBLE: Opera Philadelphia
CONDUCTOR: Corrado Rovaris