Charlie Parker's Yardbird, which had its sold-out Opera Philadelphia world premiere last June, will open in New York City in April on the fabled stage of Harlem's Apollo Theater, where the legendary jazz saxophonist himself once played, officials from the Apollo and Opera Philadelphia said.
The co-production and performances, scheduled to be announced Wednesday, will mark the first time the Apollo has presented an opera - and the first time that Opera Philadelphia has produced in New York.
Tenor Lawrence Brownlee will return in the lead role of Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, with much of the original Philadelphia cast and Opera Philadelphia's conductor, Corrado Rovaris, and orchestra.
David B. Devan, general director and president of Opera Philadelphia, called Yardbird's world premiere in June, which drew national attention, "a watershed moment," crowning the company's 40th anniversary season and helping to expand the company's community impact.
The Apollo engagement continues that effort, he said.
"We are thrilled to partner with the incredible Apollo Theater, a driving force in shaping America's music landscape, to bring this opera to New York City, where Bird helped to create bebop," Devan said.
The Apollo performances, set for April 1 and 3 (with tickets on sale at the Apollo beginning Wednesday), were imperiled for a time by the demise of the Gotham Chamber Opera, which had co-commissioned Yardbird and co-produced the Philadelphia premiere with Opera Philadelphia.
When financial woes compelled Gotham to close its doors in September, the Apollo stepped in to resuscitate the New York engagement as co-producer.
Mikki Shepard, the Apollo's executive producer, said the presentation reflected the venue's long-standing interest in musical innovation.
"This legacy of innovation across genres continues to inform the Apollo's mission and programming, as a home for emerging and established artists to push the boundaries of their art forms - from jazz to hip hop to dance to comedy, and now opera," Shepard said.
Parker performed at the Apollo many times, beginning in 1943 with the Earl Hines Orchestra, before his death at 34 in 1955.
The opera, composed by Daniel Schnyder, story and libretto by playwright Bridgette A. Wimberly, imagines Parker's quest to write his final masterpiece, for orchestra, in the hours after his death.