Opera Philadelphia is about to have its first world premiere in 39 years. A look behind the scenes

Maria Pouchnikova

The singer set to play Charlie Parker in Opera Philadelphia’s highly anticipated new opera about the jazz great is a Rossini specialist who admits to having listened to Miles Davis in college only as a way to seem more attractive to potential dates. And yet Charlie Parker’s Yardbird , Opera Philadelphia’s first world premiere in 39 years, was created with bel canto opera singer Lawrence Brownlee in mind, mainly because composer Daniel Schnyder thinks Brownlee sings the way Parker played. The opera is an imaging of what the spirit of Parker, nicknamed Yardbird or Bird, felt and did during the two days the body of the bebop saxophonist spent in the morgue before being claimed. This musical “ghost story,” which opens at the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater this weekend, explores Parker’s dream of composing a large-scale orchestral piece, as well as his relationships with his mother, his three wives and Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, the jazz patroness who was with Parker when he died. Hear from the star, composer, librettist and director of this exciting new work at Citypaper.net.

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