San Francisco, May 24, 2018 – The world premiere of Today It Rains—an opera inspired by a pivotal event in the life of artist Georgia O’Keeffe—a continuing relationship with composer Philip Glass, the return of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, a new production of Christopher Pratorius GomezXochitl and the Flowers, and the annual Up Close and Parallèle gala will highlight the 2018-2019 season of Opera Parallèle (OP), the Company has announced. The season marks major national partnerships with Brooklyn’s American Opera Projects for the premiere of Today It Rains and with the Days and Nights Festival in Carmel, CA, where OP will perform a new production of Philip Glass’ In the Penal Colony. The creative team for the season will be headed by founding Artistic Director/Conductor Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, and the season runs from October 5, 2018, through May 18, 2019, with performances in San Francisco at the Marines’ Memorial Theater, Z Space, and the Community Music Center, and in Carmel at the Golden Bough Playhouse. Tickets are priced from free admission to $175 and go on sale July 1. For information, visit www.operaparallele.org .

Artistic Director Nicole Paiement says, “Opera Parallèle is thrilled to showcase the work of the creative rebels among us, both in the stories we tell and the artists with whom we work “in parallel.” The world of opera is undergoing something of a compositional renaissance as an unprecedented number of new works begin to appear on our stages; I am so pleased that OP is part of this historic journey as we present our first-ever main stage commission among our season of four operas by living composers. It is a privilege to collaborate with Philip Glass and the Days and Nights Festival, and to celebrate Georgia O’Keeffe—two artists whose visionary spirit OP emulates.”

Nicole Paiement, founder and Artistic Director; Brian Staufenbiel, Creative Director

In the Penal Colony

by Philip Glass with a libretto by Rudolph Wurlitzer
based on the story by Franz Kafka
New production in collaboration with the Day and Nights Festival

Friday, October 5, 7:00pm
Sunday October 7, 2:00pm and 7:00 pm
Golden Bough Playhouse, Carmel, CA
Tickets: To be announced

OP continues its ongoing relationship with composer Philip Glass and takes it on the road to collaborate with Glass’ Days and Nights Festival with a new production of In the Penal Colony. Based on a story by Franz Kafka, the opera is set at the turn of the 20th century on a remote island, where a high-ranking visitor arrives to witness the use of a strange machine in the execution of a prisoner. The story and opera are a parable for the consequences of the abuse of power and corruption.

The Creative team includes Nicole Paiement, conductor; Brian Staufenbiel, director/concept; Sean Riley, set designer; Kevin Landesman, lighting designer; and Daniel Harvey, costume designer. The cast includes bass-baritone Robert Orth as The Officer, tenor Javier Abreu as The Visitor, and actor Michael Mohammed as The Prisoner.

Up Close and Parallèle Gala: “Creative Rebels”
Wednesday, October 10, 2018 at 6pm
War Memorial Building Green Room, San Francisco
with Guest of Honor and performance by Philip Glass

with Mezzo-Soprano Eve Gigliotti, Baritone Robert Orth, and Bass Kenneth Kellogg

Tickets: $300, $500 (individual)
Tables (of 10): $5K, $10K, and $15K

Opera Parallèle’s annual gala offers another unforgettable evening of wine, dinner, and unique entertainment benefitting the Company’s main stage and community engagement programs.

In keeping with this year’s theme, “Creative Rebels,” the evening’s entertainment will include a 22-minute montage opera conceived by OP’s Artistic team celebrating such operatic heroes as Harvey Milk, Georgia O’Keeffe, Steve Jobs, Julia Child, and Sister Helen Prejean, sung by mezzo-soprano Eve Gigliotti, baritone Robert Orth, and bass Kenneth Kellogg, accompanied by OP resident pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi. The evening will culminate in a special performance by guest of honor Philip Glass.

The Little Prince
by Rachel Portman with libretto by Nicholas Wright
In collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Friday, December 7 at 7pm
Saturday, December 8 at 7pm
Sunday, December 9 at 2pm
Marines’ Memorial Theater, San Francisco
Tickets: $25-$75

OP’s colorful and engaging addition to the holiday performing arts calendar, Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince, returns for the second year. Academy Award-winning English composer Rachel Portman’s magical opera in two acts comes to the Opera Parallèle stage with a twist, in collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved story of a charming prince who falls from space into the Sahara Desert takes on even more universal appeal and a feminist touch with the principal characters played by women and girls. This original production brims with digital magic, animated illustrations, and a cast of fantastical characters including the Prince and the Pilot, stars and birds, the King, a Businessman, the Rose and others. They interact with each other and the animation as they explore the universe in search of love, meaning, and the answers to life’s biggest quandaries.

OP’s creative team is led by Artistic Director/conductor Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel with illustrations and media design by Matt Kish and David Murakami, respectively; choreography by Yayoi Kambara, and costumes by Christine Crook. Portman’s lushly composed work is based on the popular novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and features a libretto in English by Nicholas Wright.

The cast includes Eve Gigliotti (mezzo-soprano) as The Pilot, Sophia Stolte and Erin Enriquez as The Little Prince (alternating performances), Kindra Scharich (mezzo-soprano) as The Fox, Sabrina Romero-Wilson (soprano) as The Rose, Maggie Finnegan (soprano) as The Water, Samuel Faustine (tenor) as The Lamplighter/Drunkard, J. Raymond Meyers (tenor) as The Vain Man, Zachary Lenox (baritone) as The Businessman, Philip Skinner (bass-baritone) as The King, Christabel Nunoo as The Snake, and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus as the chorus of stars and birds.

Today It Rains (World Premiere)

A new chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed (based on the original concept by Campbell), projection design by Reed and production design concept by Brian Staufenbiel. Co-produced with American Opera Projects.

Thursday, March 28, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Friday, March 29, at 7:30 pm
Saturday, March 30, at 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 31, at 2 pm
Z Space, San Francisco
Tickets: $65-$175

Sung in English with supertitles

Today It Rains, a new chamber opera by Laura Kaminsky with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed (based on the original concept by Campbell), projection design by Reed and production design concept by Brian Staufenbiel. The world premiere, a co-production of Opera Parallèle and American Opera Projects in New York, will be headed by OP’s founder and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel. Today It Rains is supported by a grant as part of the Hewlett 50 Arts Commissions, a five-year, $8 million initiative celebrating the foundation’s 50th anniversary that will support the creation and premiere of new works by world-class performing artists in Bay Area communities.

Today It Rains is inspired by a real event in the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. On April 29, 1929, O’Keeffe boarded a train in New York with her friend and fellow artist Rebecca Strand and arrived in Santa Fe three days later, soon to be transformed by the area’s landscape. The 80-minute opera imagines O’Keeffe’s personal journey on this seminal train ride as she reexamines her tumultuous marriage with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, her artistic stasis, and her need for new inspiration to guide her work. The opera’s librettists spent considerable time researching the subject, both in New York and Santa Fe, before completing the libretto. Campbell twice replicated the train ride O’Keeffe took in 1929 from New York to Santa Fe, the second time joined by Reed, who also shot a portion of the film for the projection design.

Performed by a cast of eight singers and an instrumental ensemble of eleven, Kaminsky’s music will capture the essence of the strong female protagonist’s personal journey and evoke the urban scene of her New York life, the popular music of the day (jazz, lindy hop, etc.), 19th-century German Romantic music, Irish Fiddle music, and the fresh sounds O’Keeffe encountered as she journeyed (American folk and blues, and the Native American music of New Mexico). Kaminsky observes, “With Today It Rains, we are using an event in the life of iconic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe as the point of departure to reflect on several universal issues: the human need for self-expression and the struggle for creative freedom; imbalance of power in relationships; the desire to seek—and make—beauty; the fragility and fierceness both of the natural environment; and so much more.

Reed’s projection design will also propel the action and add another dimension to the storytelling. Working with Staufenbiel’s production concept, the film will occasionally take the foreground visually to illustrate Kaminsky’s music in “cinematic arias.” These sections will be composed of more abstract visuals—inspired by, but not replicating O’Keeffe’s art—such as steam billowing from a train engine, the mixing of paint on a glass palette, or memories from her childhood. For some of these visual/musical scenes, Reed will complete the film and Kaminsky will compose to the visual material; in others Reed will create the film based on Kaminsky’s completed music.

The creative team of Kaminsky, Campbell and Reed are best known for their chamber opera As One, which is the most performed new opera in the country.

The Cast features mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert as Georgia O’Keeffe, baritone Daniel Belcher as Alfred Stieglitz, soprano Marnie Breckenridge as Beck, tenor Nathan Granner as Aubrey, and soprano Maya Kherani, mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich, tenor Elliot Paige, and baritone Gabriel Preisser in the ensemble.

Xochitl and the Flowers
by Christopher Pratorius Gomez with libretto by Roma Olvera
based on the book by Jorge Argueta

Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 4 pm and 6 pm
Sunday, May 19, at 2 pm
Community Music Center
Tickets: Pay-what-you-can

Sung in Spanish and English

As part of its popular and award-winning annual Hands-On Opera program, Opera Parallèle will mount a brand-new production of Christopher Pratorius-Gomez’ and Roma Olvera’s Xochitl and the Flowers, originally commissioned and presented by OP in 2016. Created in partnership with San Francisco Community Music Center, Xochitl and the Flowers (pronounced ‘so-tcheel’) features CMC students who span generations as full project participants and performers. The opera is based on the book of the same name by Jorge Argueta with libretto by Roma Olvera. Derived from real-life events in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, this quintessentially American immigration story tells the poignant tale of a family’s determination to put down roots in a new country, while still preserving the heritage of their homeland.

The production team includes Roma Olvera, Director of Community and Donor Engagement; Martha Salazar, Conductor; Beth Wilmurt, stage director; and Rachael Heiman, set and costume design.

About Opera Parallèle

Award-winning Opera Parallèle develops and performs contemporary operas in a dynamic balance of known and new works, in new productions that shed light on their subject matter and engage audiences’ senses and sensibilities. Opera Parallèle is the only organization in the Bay Area presenting fully-cast and staged contemporary operas exclusively. Opera Parallèle also commissions new orchestrations of contemporary grand operas, to give a sense of intimacy to its productions and to give a new life to works which might not otherwise be performed. Opera Parallèle’s interactive community engagement programs are dedicated to reaching increasingly diverse communities.