I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: Charlie Parker's Yardbird (D. Schnyder/B.A. Wimberly)
Martin Bakari, tenor
Nick Fox, piano
Praised by Opera News as a "vocally charismatic" performer with a "golden tenor", Martin Bakari continues to distinguish himself as a dynamic artist in a wide array of musical and theatrical genres. A 2018 George London Competition award winner, Mr. Bakari’s 2019-20 season included reprisals of Ferrando in Cosí fan tutte with Syracuse Opera and Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass with Mr. Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, returns to Seattle Opera as Triquet in Eugene Onegin and Atlanta Opera as Mingo in Porgy & Bess, and debuts at Carnegie Hall as the tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the Cecilia Chorus of New York (COVID19) and the Cincinnati May Festival as David in John Adams’ I was looking at the ceiling and then I saw the sky (COVID19). Mr. Bakari’s 2020-21 season included Charlie Parker in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Pittsburgh Opera, Beppe in a virtual production of Pagliacci with Raylynmor Opera, a livestreamed solo recital at Portland Opera, performances in Fort Worth Opera’s Green Room series, Mingo in Porgy & Bess at Lyric Opera of Kansas City (COVID19), Dr. Blind in Die Fledermaus at Fort Worth Opera (COVID19), and a solo recital at NYC’s Neue Galerie museum (COVID19). Mr. Bakari’s 2021-22 season includes his debuts at Chicago Opera Theater as Prince Claus in Mark Adamo’s Becoming Santa Claus, Intermountain Opera Bozeman as Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville, Nashville Opera as Sportin’ Life in Porgy & Bess (COVID19), and Dallas Opera as Goro in Madama Butterfly, and his return to Seattle Opera as Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro.
Other recent engagements include Charlie Parker in Yardbird with Atlanta Opera and Arizona Opera, Peter the Honeyman in Porgy & Bess with Seattle Opera and Fort Worth Opera, Tamino in The Magic Flute with Opéra Louisiane, Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony and a double bill of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field and The Little Match Girl Passion with Portland Opera, La traviata and Le nozze di Figaro with Cincinnati Opera, The Summer King with Pittsburgh Opera and Michigan Opera Theatre, Murasaki’s Moon and Morning Star with On Site Opera, The Long Walk with Utah Opera and Pittsburgh Opera, The Source with LA Opera and Beth Morrison Projects, Messiah with Symphoria, Ellen Reid’s dreams of the new world with PROTOTYPE Festival and Trinity Wall Street, and a Gershwin concert with Brooklyn Art Song Society. Mr. Bakari also premiered and recorded Grigory Smirnov's song cycle Dowson Songs (Naxos Records) which was featured by Opera News as a "Critic's Choice" recording.
Since 2016, Mr. Bakari has joined NY Harlem Productions for tours of Porgy & Bess as both Sportin' Life and Mingo, which have marked his German debuts at Semperoper Dresden, Staatsoper Hamburg, Deutsches Theater München, Alte Oper Frankfurt, and the Kölner Philharmonie, his Israeli debuts in Haifa and Tel Aviv, and his Italian debut at Bari's Teatro Petruzzelli.
As an Emerging Artist with Virginia Opera from 2014 to 2016, Mr. Bakari sang in productions of HMS Pinafore, Salome, Orpheus in the Underworld, La bohème, Roméo et Juliette, and Der fliegende Holländer. Other 2016 performances included Benvolio in Roméo et Juliette with Opera Carolina, tenor soloist in Carmina Burana with the New Hampshire Philharmonic, Mingo in Porgy & Bess with Opera Noire of NY, and Don Basilio in Le nozze di Figaro, Father in Daniel Catán's Il postino, and the King cover in Philip Glass' The Witches of Venice with Opera Saratoga.
Other notable new music credits include the leading tenor roles of Wissam in Tobin Stokes' Fallujah at the Kennedy Center, Hazel Motes in the premiere of Anthony Gatto's Wise Blood with Walker Art Center, and Lorenzo in William Bolcom's Lucrezia, Grivet in Tobias Picker's Thérèse Raquin, Katz in Stephen Paulus' The Postman Always Rings Twice, and a national tour of Wynton Marsalis' Abyssinian Mass which was recorded and released by Blue Engine Records/Sony.
Chosen by James Levine to sing in a Tanglewood production of Ariadne auf Naxos, Mr. Bakari spent two summers as a Tanglewood Fellow during which he also sang John Harbison's Full Moon in March and Milhaud's L'Enlèvement d'Europe and L'Abandon d'Ariane directed by Mark Morris. Of his performance in Full Moon in March, The New York Times wrote, "Bakari mastered completely the high-tension and occasionally melodic vocal writing".
In addition to the George London Competition, Mr. Bakari has received major awards from the Palm Beach Opera Vocal Competition, Orpheus Vocal Competition, Tanglewood, the Juilliard School, and Boston University. He has since been engaged by Palm Beach Opera and has also appeared with Madison Opera, Opera North, Opera Ebony, Little Opera Theatre of NY, Pine Mountain Music Festival, and American Opera Projects.
Mr. Bakari is an alumnus of the master's degree program at Juilliard, the B.M. and Opera Institute programs at Boston University, and the study-abroad program at London's Royal College of Music. In addition to the numerous opera and musical theatre roles he performed while in Boston, he was an active concert soloist with performances including Elijah at Symphony Hall and a solo concert of Italian arias with the Salem Philharmonic Orchestra.