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Pittsburgh Opera
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, United States

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Pittsburgh Opera

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Pittsburgh Opera again beats the odds with live performances of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird

Martin Bakari captured the genius, lost soul and lover in Parker. His is a golden, lyric tenor that was shown to its best advantage in an epilogue that begins with the words ‘I know why a caged bird sings’, a line from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem ‘Sympathy’. Jasmine Muhammad was a powerhouse as Addie, Parker’s mother. Her voice was solid from top to bottom, as was the pride and dignity with which she carried herself. Equally impressive was Chrystal E. Williams as Rebecca, Parker’s first wife, whom he married when he was fifteen and she three years older. At the end of the opera, Williams was heartbreaking when she sang bitterly that her husband abandoned her and their children for such a place as Birdland, the Manhattan jazz club where he was a headliner. With vibrant sound and presence, Madeline Ehlinger brought to life Doris Parker, a former hat-check girl who used her husband’s memory to fight drug addiction. Véronique Filloux’s Chan Parker, his common-law-wife at the time of his death, was all flounces and feathers, a perfect fit with her sparkling lyric soprano. As Baroness Nica, Maire Therese Carmack’s voice, a stand-up-and-take-notice, dark, commanding mezzo-soprano, made you do just that. Yazid Gray has a beautiful, velvety voice. His Dizzy Gillespie was good natured and easy going, the perfect foil for Bakari’s high-strung Parker. Tru Verret-Fleming moved silently throughout the action as Moose the Mooche, observing and commenting on the action without singing a word. The opera was staged in Pittsburgh Opera’s headquarters, as was its delightful production of Così fan tutte last fall. The set was minimal, and the direction tight and coherent. Challenging acoustics are the name of the game for the foreseeable future. Pittsburgh Opera is producing live opera with an audience, and you can’t find that in many places at moment. That alone made Charlie Parker’s Yardbird a must-see. Its fine cast was the icing on the cake.

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26 April 2021seenandheard-international.comRick Perdian

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