Charlie Parker’s Yardbird
Music – Daniel Schnyder
Libretto – Bridgette A. Wimberly
Finding himself in a deserted limbo, the ghost of tormented jazz great and bebop innovator Charlie “Yardbird” Parker struggles to complete one last masterpiece. In a series of flashbacks, the legendary saxophonist remembers the heyday of famous New York City jazz club Birdland and revisits the demons, inspirations, and women who have fueled and hindered his creative genius.
“Marked by long melismatic phrases and highly virtuosic and individualized vocal ornamentation, the pyrotechnic vocal displays in bel canto draw a direct parallel to the rapid fire musical lines of jazz” (The Daily Beast). The dreamlike score for 7 voices and 24-piece classical orchestra showcases the unexpected pairing of a flexible operatic tenor with the fluid, improvisational spirit of bebop: a match made in music heaven.
Charlie Parker’s Yardbird includes frank portrayals of the real-life jazz saxophonist’s triumphs and demons, including heroin and alcohol addiction, depression, and attempted suicide. Parents should also be prepared for discussions about racism. Children may appreciate the recognizably American context and jazz idiom of the music.
In English with English Subtitles | at McCaw Hall
Performance time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Movie-style rating: PG-13 for drug use and addiction, depiction of mental health issues, racism as a central theme