NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The New Orleans Opera Association is headed to the New Orleans Jazz Market in January with The Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Chamber Opera Series featuring Daniel Schnyder’s Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. It is based on Charlie Parker’s dream to bridge the worlds of classical and jazz music. The story immediately follows Parker’s death in 1955. With the aid of his strong mother, Addie, three of his four wives, and his partner in the bebop jazz revolution, Dizzy Gillespie, the jazz legend, struggles to calm his lifelong demons and write his final masterpiece. 

Performances are Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, January 22, at 2:30 p.m. Single tickets range from $25 to $75 and are available online or by calling the Box Office at (504) 529-3000. Tickets for children and students are $10.00. The Student Night Out on Jan. 18, 2023, is SOLD OUT. 

Praised by Opera News as a “vocally charismatic” performer with a “golden tenor,” Martin Bakari – cast as Parker – has distinguished himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. He is an alumnus of the master’s degree program at Juilliard, the B.M. and Opera Institute programs at Boston University, and the study-abroad program at London’s Royal College of Music.  

In addition to winning an award from the George London Competition, Bakari has received major awards from the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, Orpheus Vocal Competition, Tanglewood, the Juilliard School, and Boston University. He has since been engaged by Palm Beach Opera. He has also appeared with Madison Opera, Opera North, Eugene Opera, Opera Ebony, Little Opera Theatre of New York, Pine Mountain Music Festival, Brooklyn Art Song Society, and the American Opera Project. 

In the role of Parker’s mother, Addie, internationally acclaimed soprano Angela Brown personifies the ideal soprano: sheer vocal power, luxurious finesse, and shimmering, high pianissimos. She unites opera, pops, and gospel in one sensational voice and has graced the leading opera and symphonic stages across six continents.  

A featured artist on the two-time Grammy Award-winning recording “Ask Your Mama,” Brown’s international reputation continues to grow. Her highly successful Metropolitan Opera debut in the title role of Aida captured instant media attention, including features in The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, Essence Magazine, and Ebony Magazine, among others. 

Like this opera’s composer, Parker shared a keen enthusiasm for jazz and classical music. During his lifetime, he often expressed the desire to compose something of a very similar form to this opera itself – a hybridization of classical and jazz forms – for a large ensemble. While the opera does not directly feature Charlie Parker’s music, Schnyder interpolates jazz gestures and embeds quotations of Parker’s music in his score. A dreamlike fantasia in two parts (performed without pause), Charlie Parker’s Yardbird is a classical opera that poetically blends fact, speculation, and apocryphal legend. 

Directed by Tomé Cousin, this 90-minute production is sung in English with projected English captions. The opera features the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jorge Parodi, The Jerry W. Zachary, and Henry Bernstein Maestro Chair. 

A free pre-opera party will begin on Friday and Saturday at 6:15 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. by our Nuts and Bolts pre-performance lecture. On Sunday, the pre-opera party will begin at 1:15 p.m., followed at 1:30 p.m. by the Nuts and Bolts pre-performance lecture. 

The New Orleans Opera Association’s debut of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird Conductor, Jorge Parodi, is underwritten by Drs. Nicolas and Haydee Bazan in honor of Maestro Robert Lyall, Sarah Jane McMahon, and Ranney Mize. This production is additionally supported by a grant from the New Orleans Theatre Association (NOTA).  

Quick Facts: 

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird 

January 20-21, 2023, at 7:30 PM and January 22, 2023, at 2:30 PM. 

New Orleans Jazz Market 

Composer – Daniel Schnyder 

Librettist – Bridgette A. Wimberly  

Director – Tomé Cousin 

Conductor – Jorge Parodi, The Jerry W. Zachary and Henry Bernstein Maestro Chair  

with The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra 

Cast: 

Charlie Parker – Martin Bakari 

Addie Parker – Angela Brown 

Dizzy Gillespie – Sidney Outlaw 

Chan Parker – Rachel Looney 

Doris Parker – Julianna Espinosa  

Rebecca Parker – Kourtney Holmes  

Nica – Amy Pfrimmer 

Byrd – Tru Verret-Fleming  

Sung in English with projected English captions 

Running Time is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes (no intermission) 

www.neworleansopera.org