January 2, 2002 Barnum's Bird Flies at the Library of Congress
World Premiere Performances February 1 and 2
Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940 | Concert Line (202) 707-5502
"Concerts from the Library of Congress," based in the Music Division, premieres Barnum's Bird, a cabaret opera by Libby Larsen, at 8 p.m. on February 1 and 2. Co-commissioned by the Library of Congress and the Odyssey Commissioning Program of the Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota, Larsen's opera dramatizes the artistic and commercial partnership between famed Swedish soprano Jenny Lind and American promoter and showman P.T. Barnum.
The production, presented free of charge to the public, is made possible through a generous grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Transportation is provided by US Airways.
Show business meets great art in this compelling and charming opera, the story of the "Swedish Nightingale's" tour of the American heartland in 1850-51. Conceived for four soloists, 16 singers and instrumental ensemble, Barnum's Bird features Esther Heideman as Jenny Lind and Gary Briggle as P.T. Barnum. The conductor is Philip Brunelle, founder and artistic director of the distinguished Plymouth Music Series, acclaimed internationally for superb choral music presentations. Composer Libby Larsen and playwright Bridget Carpenter crafted a libretto offering a starring role for a choral ensemble, filled by members of the Plymouth Music Series' excellent professional chorus.
Scheduled for broadcast across the nation on National Public Radio's World of Opera, Barnum's Bird is presented as part of "I Hear America Singing," a major programming initiative at the Library of Congress. Celebrating America's musical heritage in a new website project that will provide free Internet access to the Library's unsurpassed musical treasures, I Hear America Singing programs will offer recordings, reproductions of manuscripts and printed music, moving and still images, performances, lectures, master classes and other educational programs embracing the broad range of American musical expression.
Tickets for the Barnum's Bird performances on February 1 and 2 may be obtained through TicketMaster, at (202) 432-7328, or (800) 551-7328. Each ticket carries a nominal service charge of $2, with additional charges for phone orders and handling. Tickets are also available at TicketMaster outlets; for a complete list, visit the TicketMaster site at www.ticketmaster.com. Although the supply of tickets for popular events may be exhausted, interested concertgoers are encouraged to try for standby seats by appearing at the will-call desk in the Jefferson Building by 6:30 p.m.
The Coolidge Auditorium is located on the ground floor of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, First Street and Independence Avenue S.E. Patrons should be aware that they will have to pass through Library security to enter the building, and they should arrive early so that they will have plenty of time to get to their seats.