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Lawrence Brownlee and Angela Brown Talk Charlie Parker's YARDBIRD

By Opera Philadelphia

Legendary jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker (1920-1955) was “a genius who lived fast and died young, revolutionizing an art form in a few short years” (NPR). The Grammy Award-winning bebop legend is the subject of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, our first World Premiere in almost four decades. The new chamber opera was created for American tenor Lawrence Brownlee, a nominee for the 2015 International Opera Male Singer of the Year Award, by composer Daniel Schnyder, whose “thrilling classical-tinged jazz blend…constantly pushes the envelope” (Jazz Times), to a libretto by award-winning poet and playwright Bridgette Wimberly.

In January, as the cast and creative team gathered to workshop the opera, we sat down with Brownlee and soprano Angela Brown, who costars as Charlie’s mother Addie Parker. The two stars discussed blending the worlds of jazz and opera, the music of YARDBIRD, and bringing Charlie’s unique story to the stage.

Directed by Ron Daniels under the leadership of Music Director Corrado Rovaris, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD premieres in Opera Philadelphia’s Aurora Series for Chamber Opera, crowning the company’s 40th Anniversary Season with a five-performance run in the Kimmel Center’s intimate Perelman Theater (June 5–14). 

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