Page last updated at 12:35 GMT, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Linguistic budgie inspires opera

Sparkie made a record which sold about 20,000 copies

A talking budgerigar from Newcastle has become the inspiration for a new opera.

Sparkie, who was stuffed and put on display in the Hancock Museum after he died in 1962, had a repertoire of more than 500 words.

He became a celebrity after fronting an advertisement for bird seed, and even released a record.

His life is now being celebrated in an opera, Sparkie: Cage and Beyond, due to be premiered at the Berlin Festspiele this week.

The work is a collaboration by composer Michael Nyman and fellow artist Carsten Nicolai.

It will also feature further recordings from the Sparkie archives of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

The stuffed exhibit will attend the opera, and then return to Newcastle to take up his place at the Great North Museum: Hancock which opens to the public on 23 May.

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