'Charlie Parker's Yardbird' from the Apollo

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Chan Parker (soprano Emily Pogorelc) meets Dizzy ( baritone Will Liverman) and Charlie ( tenor Lawrence Bro wnlee) at Birdland. (SOFIA NEGRON)

Listen above to Charlie Parker’s Yardbird recorded live at Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater. Daniel Schnyder wrote the score to a libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly. Superstar tenor Lawrence Brownlee sings the role of Charlie Parker.

Opera Philadelphia commissioned an opera that would showcase Brownlee, and composer Schnyder saw a parallel between Brownlee’s virtuosic singing and Parker’s virtuoso saxophone playing.  The opera premiered in Philadelphia in June 2015, and this performance of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird is the New York premiere. This is also the first time an opera has been presented on the Apollo stage.

The story takes place during the three days between Charlie Parker’s death and when his body was discovered. The ghost of Charlie Parker sits in a kind of “time globe,” musically and historically, experiencing the past, present and future simultaneously.

Host Terrance McKnight spoke to Daniel Schnyder about the process of composing Charlie Parker’s Yardbird:

Cast:

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 “Nica” De Koenigswarter: Tamara Mumford

Opera Philadelphia Orchestra
Corrado Rovaris, conductor

Comments [1]

Tom Bender from Middletown NJ.

I realize poetic license certainly enters the composition of opera, but I couldn't help wondering about the phrase above reading "the story takes place during the three days between Charlie Parker’s death and when his body was discovered".
Charlie Parker died on March 5, 1955,of a heart attack in the apartment of Baroness Von Kernigsvater while watching the "Tommy Dorsey" Show on her Television around 9PM.I believe she was in the next room, saw him stand up , stretch his hands out, then fall back into his chair dead. (Rosner-"Bird Lives").
Love him & his music.

Nov. 19 2016 10:57 PM

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