Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor
Nicole Paiement (Opera Parallèle Artistic Director, Conductor, Founder) has gained an international reputation as a conductor of opera and contemporary music. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works.
As Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle, Paiement has conducted many new productions, including: world premieres of Lou Harrison’s final version of Young Caesar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness (presented as a graphic opera), Luciano Chessa’s commissioned opera A Heavenly Act, the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center; the West Coast premieres of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Philip Glass’ Orphée; Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Francis Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel; the American premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; and a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse. Under her baton, the company has performed two works this past season: Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. Upcoming productions with the company include Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince; Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus; Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti; and the commissioned premiere of Laura Kaminsky’s Today it Rains.
Her 2012 Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ 1979 thriller, The Lighthouse, earned rave reviews. Subsequently, Paiement was appointed Principal Guest Conductor at The Dallas Opera. Paiement has since returned to Dallas to conduct performances of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, as well as the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated world premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, and Douglas Cuomo’s Arjuna’s Dilemma. She will return in 2018 to conduct the US premiere of Sunken Garden by Michel Van der Aa.
Paiement is a very active guest conductor. This past season she conducted Handel’s Xerxes at The Glimmerglass Festival; Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera; the world premiere of The Unfolding by Wayne Shorter at the Monterey Jazz Festival; the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife at Washington National Opera and Lou Harrison Celebration Concerts with OtherMinds Festival. Upcoming engagements include a return to the Glimmerglass Festival and Washington National Opera; and debuts at Lyric Opera of Kansas City to conduct the reprise of Joby Talbot’s Everest, at Houston Grand Opera for Gaetano Donizetti’s La Favorite and at Seattle Opera for Mason Bates’s The Revolution of Steve Jobs.
Last year, Paiement was awarded the American Composer’s Forum “Champion of the New Music” Award, for her outstanding contribution to New Music. She holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Debbie joined Opera Parallèle as Executive Director in February, 2017. Prior to her arrival she served as an arts advisor for the Ventura Music Festival where she provided board facilitation services and to Music Camp International which delivers music training programs to children in Romania and Ukraine.
Debbie is the former Executive Director of the Carmel Bach Festival (CBF) where, from 2012-2016, she led the administrative and operations of the Festival. She established a strategic vision to grow CBF from a two-week summer festival in Carmel into a presenter of classical music concerts throughout the Monterey Peninsula over the course of a 12-month period. This vision was successfully achieved within four years as demonstrated by an 18% growth in local audiences and a 15% growth in sustained foundation support. In addition, Debbie led the season planning process, curatorial direction of CBF’s Community Engagement year-round activities, and oversaw board and staff development, artist relations, fundraising, marketing, event planning, finances, and general management.
Over the past 25 years, Debbie has held executive leadership positions as Managing Director at CENTERSTAGE (the State Theater of Maryland), California Shakespeare Theater, and Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. While at the San Francisco Symphony, she served as Volunteer Council Director overseeing the activities of 1,700 volunteers. She began her career at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), University of San Francisco, and Center Theatre Group of the Music Center of Los Angeles where she was responsible for volunteer event management and institutional fundraising.
She currently sits on the board of Theater Bay Area, the largest regional theater service organization in North America, and most recently served on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), the national coalition of ensembles created by and for theater practitioners. She is an immediate past Board President of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), the statewide service organization providing programs and services for classical music producers and presenters in California and the west coast region. Her other past board affiliations include Theatre Communications Group (the national consortium for professional nonprofit theaters in the United States), Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, California Arts Advocates, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute’s Leadership Council – based in Baltimore, MD.
Debbie’s transformative work at the Carmel Bach Festival is featured as one of thirteen case studies in “Creative Social Change: Leadership for a Healthy World”, a recent volume (spring, 2016) in the International Leadership Association Series which assembles thought leaders to reimagine leadership in building a healthy, sustainable, and equitable world.
Debbie is originally from Syosset, NY and she attended the University of Southern California, majoring in Theater, under the artistic direction of John Houseman. Her passions include traveling, wine collecting, being in the audience to support the work of arts colleagues, immersing herself in the company of big and bold thinkers, and championing the growth of the next generation of artists and arts administrators.
As the creative director and stage director for Opera Parallèle since 2007, Brian Staufenbiel actively works across a wide range of artistic disciplines. Specializing in multimedia and interdisciplinary productions, his progressive approach to stagecraft garnered critical acclaim for several of the company’s productions, including Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, Glass’ Orphée and Les Enfant Terribles, Golijov’s Ainadamar, Gorb’s Anya17, Berg’s Wozzeck, Davies’ The Lighthouse, Blanchard’s Champion, and Dove’s Flight. This season, Mr. Staufenbiel helms two new productions for Opera Parallèle, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti with Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus.
Mr. Staufenbiel recently created a new production of Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera in Fall 2016, which he will remount with Arizona Opera and Fort Worth Opera in 2018. He is currently creating a new production of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Canterville Ghost for the Center of Contemporary Opera in NY and LA Opera. He will be directing and is dramaturge for two new world premieres: Today it Rains with composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed for Spring 2019, as well as the world premiere production of a new work by composers Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch.
Recently, Staufenbiel directed the world premiere of Angel Heart by Luna Pearl Woolf which was performed at Cal Performances in Berkeley, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Festival del Sole in Sonoma. In addition to opera, Staufenbiel also brings his unique brand of experimental staging to theater, and has shared a residency at Banff with composer Luna Pearl Woolf to create an original theater piece—Mélange à Trois—which premiered in Montréal.
Staufenbiel’s interdisciplinary approach to opera extends to his academic activity. He has directed the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz for over 17 years, where he has mounted a wide spectrum of award-winning productions, ranging from traditional operas to original works by contemporary composers. Staufenbiel holds a DMA from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in San Francisco.
Jacques Desjardins served as the General Manager of Opera Parallèle from 2004 until 2013 when he became the company’s first Artistic Administrator. As a composer Desjardins was responsible for the re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby performed by OP at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and at the Aspen Music Festival in 2012. He has received commissions from BluePrint, the Sherbrooke Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Arthur-LeBlanc Quartet, the Québec Youth Orchestras Association, and the Musica Nova Ensemble. Desjardins is on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he teaches Conducting, Music Theory, and Musicianship. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Composition at the University of Michigan.
Educational Programs Director, Office Manager
Roma Olvera is the Educational Programs Director for Opera Parallèle. She leads the three-tiered education program that commissions new works for children based on children’s books, develops original curriculum for engaging local high school students in main-stage contemporary opera productions, and hosts students of all ages in the Bay Area for final dress rehearsals throughout the season. Roma specializes in curriculum development that integrates music into every subject of standardized elementary and high school education. She has taught music for several school districts in southern California, as well as developed music programs for underserved communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City. She has worked with Midori and Friends on a pilot music outreach program and Hofstra University on a teacher development through music program. She is also the librettist for OP’s children’s opera commissions. Harriet’s Spirit, to premiere in January 2018, is her third libretto. She also wrote Xochitl and the Flowers (2016) and Amazing Grace (2015). A lyric soprano, Roma holds a Bachelor of Music from UC Santa Cruz in Vocal Performance and a Masters of Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Development and Marketing Coordinator
Marilyn is an arts marketing professional with more than 20 years experience in development, marketing, and public relations, including work for California Shakespeare Theater and Spokane Civic Theatre, and served as an adjunct professor in theatre at Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, and North Idaho College. In her “spare” time she is the Artistic Director of Contra Costa Civic Theatre (CCCT) in El Cerrito, and an award-winning director whose productions have been seen around the country and internationally.
In addition to her work with Opera Parallèle, Laura Anderson’s recent projects include productions with Rork Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and TEDx Berkeley. She is the stage manager for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Philip Glass Days and Nights Festival. Anderson was the production stage manager for the live performance portion of the Emmy-nominated Twin Cities Public Television documentary, Parables, featuring the opera of the same name by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein. She holds a doctorate in opera studies from the University of Minnesota.
Scenic and Lighting Designer
While pursuing a degree in the fine arts in Southern California, Mr. Antaky turned his interests to the performing arts and in 1983 moved to San Francisco to study visual and theatrical design at San Francisco State University. For over 30 years, he has created and collaborated on both scenic and lighting designs for all of the performing arts including theater, opera, dance, and music. His work has been presented throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. For opera and music, Mr. Antaky has designed multiple productions for Opera Parallèle, Utah Opera and Symphony, Opera Pacific, Festival Opera, Oakland Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Opera San Jose, The Cabrillo Music Festival, and the San Francisco World Music Festival. His extensive work in the world of dance include many designs and installations for companies such as Liss Fain Dance, ODC/Dance, Oklahoma City Ballet, Li Chiao Ping, Smuin Ballet, Robert Moses Kin, Mark Foehringer Dance Project/SF, The National Ballet of Peru, La Tania Flamenco, Lily Cai Dance Company, SjDanceCo, Chitresh Das Dance Company and Flyaway Productions among many others. Mr. Antaky is an eight-time nominee and four-time recipient of the Isadora Duncan award for outstanding visual design.
Christine Crook began designing costumes for Opera Parallèle in 2011 with Orphèe. Other Opera Parallèle credits include Dead Man Walking, Mahagonny Songspiel / Les mamelles de Tirésias, Anya17, Four Saints In Three Acts, The Great Gatsby, Ainadamar, and Trouble in Tahiti. She also designs for theatre, dance, and opera all over the Bay Area and is a proud company member of Shotgun Players and Just Theater. Other recent credits include Antigonick, Our Town, and Twelfth Night with Shotgun, Alban Berg’s Lulu with West Edge Opera, and Lucia di Lammermoor with LA Opera. Christine has an MFA in costume design from UC San Diego and is the recipient of two SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. She currently teaches costume design with USF, and Academy of Art University. Check out her work online on her website.
Dave Dunning comes to us from Legend Theatrical, a premier national staging, audio and lighting company, including playing an integral role in the lighting of the Bay Bridge. He specializes in scenic design and lighting design. His credits include several of Opera Parallèle’s productions such as scenic design for Young Caesar, Orphée, Les Mamelles de Tirésias/Mahagonny Songspiel, Anya 17, Dead Man Walking, and lighting for Trouble in Tahiti. He is a scenic and lighting designer for theater, opera, dance, concert, corporate, and architectural projects throughout much of the Bay Area.
David Murakami is a film director, writer, and theatrical multi-media designer working towards integrating emerging technologies with traditional performance on stage. Past designs with Opera Parallèle include Dead Man Walking, Trouble in Tahiti, and the American premieres of Anya 17 and Heart of Darkness. Other designs include the world premiere of Luis Valdez’ Valley of the Heart, Little Prince, and Peter Pan. Murakami received his Master’s degree from UCSC, and has been featured at the Maker Faire and several international film festivals. He is delighted to be continuing his trespass across media with Opera Parallèle.
Resident Pianist / Accompanist
Keisuke Nakagoshi, a native of Japan, earned a Bachelor of Music in composition and a Master of Music in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition with David Conte and piano with Paul Hersh. In 2005 he was selected to represent the Conservatory for the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, a program featuring young musicians from major conservatories across the United States. Nakagoshi has performed to acclaim on prestigious concert stages across the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Davies Hall in San Francisco. He has received training from some of the most celebrated musicians of our time – Emanuel Ax, Gilbert Kalish and Menahem Pressler. He recently made a solo debut with San Francisco Symphony on Ingvar Lidholm’s Poesis with Herbert Blomstedt conducting. Nakagoshi is currently Pianist-in-Residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well as a member of the Grammy nominated piano duet ZOFO.
Wig and Makeup Designer
Jeanna Parham began her career in San Jose where she designed for many South Bay theaters. Since moving to San Francisco, in addition to Opera Parallèle, she has been creating designs for the American Conservatory Theater, Opera San Jose, TheatreWorks, Broadway by the Bay, and the University of California, Santa Cruz Opera Theater. Ms. Parham is also the head of the Wig and Makeup Department for the San Francisco Opera.