Talking budgerigar honoured in Berlin opera

Sparkie, the North East's most famous budgerigar, has inspired an opera, which premiered at the Berliner Festspiele music festival last night.
Sparkie: Cage and Beyond was was written by British composer Michael Nyman.  It celebrates the life of this remarkable budgerigar, which was capable of speaking some 553 words and 353 phrases.
At the height of his fame, Sparkie won the BBC International Cage World Contest for talking budgies in 1958. He also made several LP records featuring his amazing vocabulary and numerous commercials for birdseed proprietor Capern's.
He died in 1962, and was mounted on a perch for display in the Hancock Museum in Newcastle, where he has resided ever since. But last Saturday he made a special journey, and was flown to Berlin in the care of an archivist, so that he could be present at the opera's debut.
Please note, visitors will be able to see Sparkie at the Great North Museum: Hancock, when the redeveloped museum re-opens to the public on May 23.