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The (Hackney) Empire strikes back… with opera

The venue is lining up more musical theatre and opera, starting with be-bopera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird

02 June, 2017 — By Sebastian Taylor

Lawrence Brownlee in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. Photo: Dominic M Mercier

A new future for the historic Hackney Empire as an opera house is being launched next week with the opening of be-bopera Charlie Parker’s Yardbird in its European premiere on Friday, June 9.

The super opera – highly praised at its US opening in Philadelphia two years ago and elsewhere in the US – marks a major shift in the theatre’s artistic policy. In place of its previous medley of presentations, the theatre is now aiming “to become a truly dynamic place for audiences to experience opera in the 21st century”.

“Over the next four years, Hackney Empire will present more opera and musical theatre than ever before,” says the theatre launching its new 2017-18 season.

The venue is intending to put on new work juxtaposing musical influences, starring world-renowned audiences and showcasing emerging talent. Working with both UK and international partners, the Empire is planning to co-produce and present brand new inspirational and accessible productions.

New season highlights include:
• June 9-17: Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, a jazz-infused chamber be-bopera by Daniel Schnyder with libretto by Bridgette A Wimberly. Award-winning American tenor Lawrence Brownlee is the great US saxophonist Charlie Parker – it’s a role that he has performed to critical acclaim in the US.
• September 19: Amel Opera Festival productions of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Peter Eötvös’s Senzar Sangue (Bloodless).
• October 4-7: English Touring Opera’s productions of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Rameau’s Dardanus.
• October 13-15: Opera Philadelphia’s production of new opera We Shall Not Be Moved by Haitian-American composer Daniel Bernard Roumain.
• October 31: Music Theatre Wales’s production of Peter Eötvös’s fable The Golden Dragon set in a Pan-Asian restaurant.
 Hackney Empire, 291 Mare Street, EC1. Details: 020 8985 2424,

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