Charlie Parker's Yardbird

9 Jun - 17 Jun 2017
Charlie Parker's Yardbird 9 Jun - 17 Jun 2017

Hackney Empire and English National Opera present the European Premiere of Charlie Parker's Yardbird

A segregated hotel. Saxophonist Charlie Parker has just died in the room of a married Baroness. While she tries to stem a media storm, Parker’s ghost appears in a fantastical version of the infamous NYC jazz club Birdland with the aim of composing a last musical masterpiece before the news of his death breaks.

A pioneering improviser, Parker can’t pin the notes onto the page without revisiting those who have inspired his creative genius: the women who loved him, his partner in the jazz revolution: Dizzy Gillespie.

A jazz-infused bebopera about deferred dreams and redemption, with music by Daniel Schnyder and libretto from award-winning African American poet Bridgette A. Wimberly, Yardbird is as bold in its artistic vision as Parker was himself. In a commission from acclaimed Opera Philadelphia and accompanied by the English National Opera Orchestra, Lawrence Brownlee stars as the legendary saxophonist, showcasing the effortless, improvisational style that makes him one of the world’s most sought after tenors.

‘Brownlee gives a performance of remarkable vocal and dramatic integrity’

‘Schnyder’s score is ambitiously beautiful’  ★★★★ Guardian

‘Brownlee, normally known for his Rossini roles, was on outstanding form. ‘

‘A moving tribute in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird’

★★★★ Bachtrack

You would be hard-pressed to find a new opera sung with more verve or virtuosity’ ★★★   The Times

‘Lawrence Brownlee, outstanding as Parker, captures the emotional extremes of a musical genius pushing at artistic and social boundaries.’

‘Angela Brown is equally commanding as Addie, the strong mother unable to protect her son either in his native Kansas City or New York.’

★★★  The FT

‘This production was simply stupendous’ 

Jazz Journal

‘Richly detailed and passionately performed opera about a man who ‘got dreams’, and fulfilled so many of them’

★★★  Whats On Stage

‘Supporting cast are all first-rate & Lawrence Brownlee – the Rossini tenor who was the work’s inspiration – his charismatic vocalism holds everything together with magnificent authority.‘  

★★★  The Independent

‘This highly accessible work offers an engaging and melancholy study of Parker’s life and legacy.

The Prickle  
 ‘A swift-paced chamber opera with a pulsing, jazz-infused score’
The New York Times

‘Lawrence Brownlee commands the stage in the title role’

The Wall Street Journal
Hackney Empire

£ 75 – £ 15 (plus £1 per ticket online, £1.25 per ticket over the phone)


Running time: 1hr 30mins (no interval)

Performed in English with English supertitles

Download Synopsis here



Lawrence BrownleeCharlie Parker
Angela BrownAddie Parker
Rachel SterrenbergChan Parker
Elena PerroniDoris Parker
Chrystal E. WilliamsRebecca Parker
Julie MillerBaroness Nica
Will LivermanDizzy Gillespie
Richard Hubert SmithENO Photographer 2017
Dominic M. MercierOpera Philadelphia Photographer

Creative Team

Daniel SchnyderMusic
Bridgette A. WimberlyLibretto
Ron DanielDirector
Clark RundellConductor
Riccardo HernandezSet Designer
Emily RebholzCostume Designer
Scott ZielinskiLighting Designer
David ZimmermanWig and Make Up Design

You might also like...