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  • Writer's pictureThe Dayton Weekly News

Yellow Springs Native, Martin Bakari, makes Dayton Opera debut in the lead role as Charlie Parker

DPAA presents Dayton Opera’s Regional Premiere of: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance presents the Dayton Opera regional premiere of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Performances of Yardbird are Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 9 at 2:30 p.m. at the Benjamin and Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton, Ohio. Tickets for Charlie Parker’s Yardbird start at $5 and are available at the Box Office located in the Wintergarden of the Schuster Center, by phone at 937-228-3630, or online at

Yellow Springs native Martin Bakari leads the cast of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird as jazz and bebop legend Charlie Parker. Yardbird is a powerful expedition into the mind, heart, and personal purgatory of jazz genius Charlie “Yardbird” Parker. Fusing classical and jazz styles into an intriguing mix, the opera begins in a New York City morgue where the body of tormented bebop saxophonist Charlie Parker lies. With music by composer Daniel Schnyder and libretto by Bridgette A. Wimberly, the story follows his spirit as it travels back to the famed NYC jazz club, Birdland, where Parker struggles to complete his final masterpiece.

“I had many of my first theater and classical music experiences at the gorgeous Schuster Center,” says Bakari. “I am thrilled to return to share the powerful and fascinating story of one of the great African American musical geniuses of the 20th century. It’s an honor to share my Dayton Opera debut as Charlie Parker with the community that has supported my art from the very beginning.”

“I am so pleased to have such an illustrious cast for this production,” says Dayton Opera Artistic Director Kathleen Clawson, “Yellow Springs native and tenor Martin Bakari makes his Dayton Opera debut as Charlie Parker (a role he has performed in Atlanta, Arizona, and Pittsburgh). He’s joined by soprano Angela Brown as Addie Parker and mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams as Rebecca Parker, who originated these roles in the world premiere production in Philadelphia in 2015. I’m thrilled to welcome Clinton Smith, who conducted Yardbird in Atlanta, Madison, and Arizona. Dayton Opera fans will recognize Smith as the conductor of our productions, “The Barber of Seville, Cenerentola, and The Elixir of Love.”

Other cast members are Lauren Nash Silberstein*, (Chan Parker), soprano; Sarah Stembel*, (Doris Parker), soprano; Sankara Harouna*, (Dizzy Gillespie), bass; Naomi Brigell*(Nica), mezzo-soprano; and, Du’Bois A’Keen, dancer/choreographer. The production team consists of Fenlon Lamb, stage director; John Rensel, resident lighting designer; John Lavarnway, props coordinator; Lyn Baudendistel, costume coordinator; Thomas Venditelli and Cass Brake, wig/makeup designers. In addition, sets, projections, and properties, Arizona Opera; scenic designer Mark Halpin; projection designer Greg Emetaz; costumes, Arizona Opera; and costume designer CeCe Sickler.

Tickets for Charlie Parker’s Yardbird start at $5 and are on sale now at the Box Office located in the Wintergarden of the Schuster Center, by calling 937-228-3630 or online at

For more information about Dayton Opera’s production of Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, visit:


About Dayton Performing Arts Alliance

Dayton Performing Arts Alliance (DPAA) was formed in a groundbreaking and innovative merger between Dayton Ballet, Dayton Opera, and Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the greater Dayton community, with a mission to be the community’s indispensable source for traditional, diverse, and innovative experiences in ballet, opera, and orchestral music. The vision of DPAA is to transform lives through the power of music and dance. In addition, DPAA offers various performance and education programs, setting a new standard for artistic excellence. DPAA performances reach an audience of more than 90,000 people annually, and their rich arts education programming serves over 60,000 schoolchildren in 150 schools in southwest Ohio. These performances and education initiatives are made possible partly through significant support from the Ohio Arts Council, Culture Works, Montgomery County, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

*denotes Dayton Opera debut

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