In Opera Philadelphia's Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, composer Daniel Schnyder illuminates the life of the groundbreaking jazz saxophonist. But, as WRTI’s Kile Smith reports, while the music is all original, the composer couldn’t help slipping in just a taste of Parker for the opera’s lead tenor, Lawrence Brownlee.
What composer Daniel Schnyder did not want to write in his opera about the great Charlie Parker was warmed-over bebop. His opera, Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD, is original through and through.
He also did not want tenor Lawrence Brownlee, who plays Parker, faking a saxophone onstage. But, he thought there was one point where the singer could vocalize a line of jazz, and for that, he turned to Parker.
While Schnyder is himself a jazz saxophonist, he also plays and composes new classical music with an individual, dynamic voice. Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD is an original look at the bebop legend.
Opera Philadelphia’s production of Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD airs this Saturday, July 4th, at 12 noon on WRTI. Kile Smith is your host.
Music by Daniel Schnyder
Libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee sings the role of Charlie Parker.
Soprano Angela Brown is Addie Parker, Charlie’s mother.
The wives of Charlie Parker are sung by Soprano Rachel Sterrenberg as Chan Parker, who is also mother of their daughter Pree.
Soprano Angela Mortellaro sings Doris Parker.
Mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams is Rebecca Parker.
Baritone Will Liverman is Dizzy Gillespie.
Mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford is Baroness Pannonica De Koenigswarter - also known as Nica.