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The Daniel Schnyder chamber opera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird receives its Chicago premiere

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Contemporary jazz saxophonist and composer Daniel Schnyder’s 90-minute chamber opera about legendary jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker was first performed in Philadelphia in 2015, and it’s receiving its Chicago premiere under the auspices of Lyric Opera. The libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly begins with Parker’s death at 34—brought on by drugs, alcohol, and a heart condition—and flashes back Christmas Carol-style to significant episodes in his life. Schnyder uses Parker’s music only as inspiration and a touchstone for his score, which will be played by a 16-piece orchestra. But not to worry, members of Orbert Davis’s Chicago Jazz Philharmonic—with Rajiv Halim on alto sax—will be on hand to play a postopera Parker set. The production’s fine cast includes tenor Lawrence Brownlee as Parker, baritone Will Liverman as Dizzy Gillespie, and soprano Angela Brown as Parker’s mother, Addie. Jazz critic and former Reader writer Neil Tesser will do the pre-event warm-up talk with Jesse Gram, Lyric’s audience education manager.   v

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