For Women’s History Month, I sat down with my friend, Operatic Soprano Angela Brown to talk about her debut at the Apollo Theater in the opera YARDBIRD, co-produced by Opera Philadelphia. This is the first of such collaboration for the Apollo Theater presenting opera in Harlem’s premier performance venue. The production was initially a collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera but due to unfortunate financial restraints, as experienced by several arts organizations these days, they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Recognizing the importance of this piece in highlighting the legacy of Charlie Parker, the relationship of his career contributions to the theater, and bringing this art form to their stage, the Apollo Theater thus embarked on a collaboration with Opera Philadelphia.
I asked Ms. Brown to tell me a about this opera production and her character….
The composer, Daniel Schnyder, a jazz saxophonist himself, wrote the opera as a tribute to #bebop and Charlie Parker’s legacy, although there is none of Charlie Parker’s original music in the show. The composition is a mélange of bebop jazz idioms, juxtaposed with memorable operatic tunes and libretto written by Bridgett A. Wimberly.
World renowned Rossini Tenor, and Grammy Award nominee, Lawrence Brownlee plays Charlie Parker. @brownleetenor is caught up in a media whirlwind since arriving in New York in order to publicize the opera. I’ve known Larry for a long time and can assure you that anything his voice touches becomes golden, as his agile tenor brings characters to life!
Click here for a clip of Mr. Brownlee’s work in this #bebopera: https://youtu.be/H1ZbNeUaE_M
See www.lawrencebrownlee.com for more information and career updates.
Ms. Brown plays the role of Addie Parker, Charlie’s mother. She has a duet with Charlie, “All I Have is You,” and a show stopping aria, “That’s my Boy,” which she describes as a “tear jerker.” We enter the story in the last days of Charlie Parker’s life, which takes place in the imaginary “Birdland,” of which the famous jazz lounge is named. While on a mission to compose a symphonic work, he’s visited by a specter of spirits attempting to save him from himself, including that of his mother, his wife and common law girlfriends, and the spirit of Dizzy Gillespie sung by Baritone, Will Liverman. Ms. Brown says that we should be on the lookout for the other young featured voices in the show as well, and says that YARDBIRD will delight the aural and visual senses.
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Diva Angela expressed that she is blessed to practice her chosen profession and to have a career which began upon winning the coveted Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She was invited back to the MET to sing the iconic role of AIDA by Giuseppe Verdi, being crowned as the new reigning AIDA on the front page of the New York Times in 2004. These opportunities further afforded her contracts to sing all over the United States, New Zealand, Italy, France, and various other countries around the world. See www.angelambrown.com for more information and career updates.
The two-time Grammy Award nominated soprano says that life happens while you’re being fabulous, so you must re-invent yourself every 5 years. She has experienced a myriad of highs and lows in her career and personal life, and now, while experiencing an upswing, both personally and professionally, her self-reinvention has led her to start a 501c3, supporting the school and community outreach of her show, Opera from a Sistah’s Point of View: https://youtu.be/mzesp1LPFsE. Her show brings hundreds of people of all races and ages to and through the door of appreciating opera by demystifying operatic plots and bringing characters to life in a way that only she can.
On balancing her personal and professional life, Ms. Brown says that it’s important for she and her husband, a handsome dancer and father of 3 son’s who all currently live in Paris, to remain malleable and communicate constantly with one another via all forms of social media including Skype. She is currently splitting her time between her homes in Indianapolis and Paris. The loving couple will celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary this month! Congratulations Diva Angela!!!!
Ms. Brown also has a jewelry line called, It’s a Diva Thang! She wanted to create bold jewelry pieces that travel well and were resistant to breakage and jewels falling apart en route to her performance destinations. And create a fabulous line of jewelry she did! You can purchase her diva worthy earrings, bracelets, broaches, and necklaces at http://www.itsadivathang.com
In this Women’s History Month I celebrate the triumphs and journey of operatic soprano @msangelabrown. Our interview was inspiring and uplifting. I urge you to get your tickets now to see Ms. Brown as Addie Parker and the one and only, Lawrence Brownlee as YARDBIRD at the Apollo Theater this Friday and Sunday, April 1st and 3rd, 2016.
For more information, please go to their website at https://www.apollotheater.org/
Interact with Divaria on social media @HouseofDivaria. Go to her site at https://www.facebook.com/IamDivaria/
Photo credit: 1) Ms. Brown is pictured above with pieces from her, It’s a Diva Thang, line of durable bling 2 Ms. Brown as Ariadne in Indianapolis Opera’s production of ARIADNE AUF NAXOS by Strauss. 3) Mr. Brownlee as the leading tenor, Rinaldo in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of ARMIDA by Rossini.. 4) Mr. Brownlee.