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Nicole Paiement, General and Artistic Director, and Conductor
Nicole Paiement has gained an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works.
Maestro Paiement’s 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. In 2018, Paiement conducted the US premiere of Michel Van Der Aa’s Sunken Garden and most recently in 2022 conducted Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.
Founder and Artistic Director of San Francisco’s 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; 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; 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; a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles; and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. In 2017/18 Paiement conducted a new double bill of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ, as well as Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Opera Parallèle made its debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival in the 2018/19 season with Glass’ In the Penal Colony. That season also featured Paiement conducting the world premiere performances of Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the return of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. In 2021, Paiement was conductor for the company’s groundbreaking film project, Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera. The 2021/22 season saw Paiement lead the West Coast premiere of Lembit Beecher’s Sophia’s Forest, and complete Glass’ Cocteau trilogy with a new production of La Belle et La Bête at SFJAZZ.
Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. In 2019, she made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, as well as performances with the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival (2016 – 2018) and a debut at Seattle Opera with Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Other prior engagements include Talbot’s Everest with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera and Washington National Opera for the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife. In 2019 Paiement also conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera Program, San Francisco.
Mo. Paiement made her debut at Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in January 2020 and with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in November 2020. In January 2022 Mo. Paiement conducted with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Italy. Upcoming engagements include her UK premiere in November 2022 with the English National Opera conducting It’s a Wonderful Life by Jake Heggie. Paiement will return to the UK in June 2023 to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center, London. Mo. Paiement will also return to Opéra de Montréal in Season 22/23 with Ainadamar by Golijov.
Paiement has served as the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) where she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living American composers. At SFCM, she holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music. Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award in 2014. She received the Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship in 2015 in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching.
Paiement was awarded American Composer’s Forum’s “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music in 2016. In addition to being a leader in the world of contemporary opera, Ms. Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.
Ruth Nott, Managing Director
Ruth Nott is Opera Parallèle’s Managing Director after previously serving as Interim Chief Operations Officer. Nott has built a multi-decade career of success by mastering the art of innovation and excellence, focusing on opportunities to increase awareness and access to the arts.
From 2008 through 2019, she served as Director of Education for the San Francisco Opera. She was recruited to create the opera’s first department committed to community-building and arts education. Nott was at the helm of a team that innovated multiple programs serving more than 70,000 people annually. Among these initiatives is Arts Resources in Action (ARIA), which was recognized with a Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award for its focus on collaboration, professional development, and arts integration. She held previous positions at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York City Opera, IMG Artists, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Ruth Nott inspires organizations to stretch beyond the boundaries of convention and tradition. Throughout 2019-2020, Ruth brought those strengths to consulting positions with Santa Fe Opera; Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Music at Kohl Mansion’s Violins of Hope project; Kyoo, an online ordering system and partner of point-of-sale system Square; and started PrimeLife Arts Learning, an on-line Creative Aging art-making platform dedicated to improving the social and emotional well-being of older adults.
Aileen Tat, Development Director
Opera Parallèle’s Development Director, Aileen Tat, recently held a senior development role for San Francisco Opera as Leadership Giving Officer. She managed a robust portfolio of leadership supporters and board members, maintaining generous engagement and support through major organizational transitions. She oversaw multiple projects and initiatives including growing the Opera’s Orpheus young professional donor program; working with the board’s Education Committee; and serving as a founding member of the Opera’s Diversity, Equity and Community Committee.
Aileen Tat is one of the 16 national company representatives originally selected to participate in OPERA America’s Community-Centric Fundraising for Opera working group, which has doubled in size and aims to establish more equitable and inclusive fundraising practices throughout the opera industry. She also serves on the board of Pacific Primary preschool, a national leader in early childhood anti-bias education. Her other professional credits include working in development and membership at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and in various roles supporting artists and non-profits in New York City, including the Brooklyn Rail and the Public Art Fund. Tat holds a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts, and studied public art with Ruth Asawa.
Brian Staufenbiel, Creative Director
Brian Staufenbiel is the creative director for Opera Parallèle where he has directed and spearheaded the conceptual designs of the company’s productions since it was founded in 2010. Specializing in multimedia, immersive, and interdisciplinary productions, he actively works across a wide range of artistic disciplines collaborating in film and with media designers, choreographers and dancers, circus and fabric artists, and designer fabricators. His progressive approach to stagecraft has garnered critical acclaim for many of the company’s productions, including Wozzeck, Orphée, Champion and Dead Man Walking.
Staufenbiel recently directed films for the online festival season of the Sun Valley Music Festival, a film of Dove/Angelis’ Flight for Seattle Opera, and a graphic novel film of Talbot/Scheer’s Everest with Opera Parallèle. Other upcoming projects include the premiere of Miguel Zenon’s Golden City Suite with SF JAZZ, projects with Atlanta Opera and L’Opéra De Montréal, and a documentary about the life of Frederica Von Stade with Paper Wings Films. Staufenbiel will be co-directing, with choreographer Yayoi Kambara, Ikkai, a dance installation about Japanese incarceration camps in the United States during World War II.
Staufenbiel enjoys an ongoing relationship with composer Philip Glass, having directed a number of his operas including In the Penal Colony for Philip’s own festival. The production is currently streaming on a new platform, Philip Glass Days and Night’s Festival Presents and was named a New York Times Top Ten pick.
Staufenbiel recently created a new production of Elektra for Minnesota Opera. His 2016 production of Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera was reprised at Arizona Opera and at L’Opéra de Montréal and was named a Star Tribune Classical Pick of the Decade. He also recently created a new production of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Canterville Ghost for the Center of Contemporary Opera in NY and LA Opera.
Staufenbiel’s interdisciplinary approach to opera extends to his academic activity. He recently left his position after seventeen years as the director of the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has mounted a wide spectrum of award-winning productions ranging from traditional operas to original works by contemporary composers. Staufenbiel holds degrees in Philosophy and Music including a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in San Francisco.
Jacques Desjardins, Artistic Administrator
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.
Daniel Harvey, Artistic & Community Manager Assistant to the General & Artistic Director
Daniel Harvey is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia and moved to San Francisco in 2017. Daniel’s background in set and costume design, and theatre production informs his current work as producer for Opera Parallèle’s community programs. While in San Francisco, Daniel also worked as a Program Director for Intersection for the Arts, furthering their mission of supporting sustainable artistic practice in the Bay Area. Select theatre credits: As Costume Designer: In the Penal Colony (Days & Nights Festival – Opera Parallèle); Tannhauser (Regent Theatre – Melbourne Opera); Loving Repeating (Vic Theatre Co – Melbourne Green Room Award Nomination); Xanadu: The Musical (Australian Premiere). As Set Designer: Look Back in Anger (Fourth Wall Theatre, New Wimbledon London). As Assistant Designer to Richard Roberts: Fiddler on the Roof (TML). As Associate Designer to Leslie Travers UK: La Boheme (Malmo Opera, Sweden); Peter Grimes on the Beach (Aldeburgh, UK). As Associate Designer to Tobias Hoheisel: Don Carlo (Bolshoi Opera, Moscow). As Assistant to Christopher Oram UK: Uncle Vanya (West End); Privates on Parade (Michael Grandage Company); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Broadway). As Assistant to Anna Tregloan: Spring Awakening: A New Musical (Sydney Theatre Company). Daniel has also worked as a lecturer and student mentor at the VCA/University of Melbourne, and served on the board of LEVYdance.
Michael Mohammed, Community Engagement Ambassador
Michael Mohammed, researches the representation of performers with historically excluded identities in opera and theatre. He is on faculty at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San José State University, College of Marin, and San Francisco Community Music Center. A stage director, choreographer, and performer, he has co-created work with Amplified Opera, a Toronto-based company that places equity-seeking artists at the center of public discourse. He is an Affiliate Member of the Black Opera Research Network. Having performed with Opera Parallèle on numerous occasions, Michael Mohammed joins the company as Community Engagement Ambassador.
Jessica Bejarano, Assistant Conductor
Jessica Bejarano is the founder and music director of the San Francisco Philharmonic. She also serves as assistant conductor of Opera Parallèle, including the company’s recent production of Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera; music director at Escuela Bilingue Internationale; and as a board member of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras. Bejarano is a regular guest conductor with the Antonio Soler Orquestra in Spain and has guest conducted in the Czech Republic, Venezuela, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy, and Russia. Bejarano was named KQED Arts’ Bay Brilliant Top 10 Artists of 2018, was featured by PBS NewsHour as an emerging female conductor to watch, and showcased on NBC’s The Today Show with Natalie Morales as the “Woman Breaking Barriers as a Trailblazing Symphony Conductor.”
Jaymes Kirksey, Assistant Conductor
A native of the great state of Oklahoma, Jaymes Kirksey joins Opera Parallèle as an Assistant Conductor. Over the years, he has become a national presence as a violinist, pianist and conductor. The Music Director of Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, Solano Youth Chamber Orchestra and frequent guest soloist and conductor of Golden Gate Symphony, Kirksey brings with him versatility, precision, and an exciting stage presence. As a conductor and educator, he has created high quality musical interpretations ranging from Baroque to modern symphonic repertoire. Kirksey has performed in venues across Europe and the US and remains a steadfast performer in the Bay Area. He holds a Master’s Degree in Violin Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Michael Stephens, Grants Manager
Tony Shayne, Director of Production
Keisuke Nakagoshi, Resident Pianist
Keisuke Nakagoshi began his piano studies at the age of ten, arriving in the United States from Japan at the age of 18. Mr. Nakagoshi earned his Bachelor’s degree in Composition and Master’s degree in Chamber Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition with David Conte and piano with Paul Hersh. Graduating as the recipient of multiple top awards, Keisuke was selected to represent the SFCM for the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, a program featuring young musicians from major conservatories across the United States.
Mr. Nakagoshi has performed to acclaim on prestigious concert stages across the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. He has received training from some of the most celebrated musicians of our time—Emanuel Ax, Gilbert Kalish, Menahem Pressler, Robert Mann, Paul Hersh, David Zinman—and enjoys collaborating with other accomplished musicians such as Lucy Shelton, Ian Swensen, Jodi Levitz, Robin Sutherland, Lev Polyakin, Axel Strauss, Mark Kosower, Gary Schocker and also conductors such as Alasdair Neale, George Daugherty, Nicole Paiement, Michael Tilson Thomas and Herbert Blomstedt. In 2014, he made a solo debut with San Francisco Symphony on Ingvar Lidholm’s Poesis with Herbert Blomstedt conducting.
In 2009, Keisuke and Swiss pianist Eva-Maria Zimmermann formed ZOFO, a piano duet team commissioning and performing music for piano four hands and their first CD was nominated for Grammy award for best chamber music/small ensemble in 2013. Mr. Nakagoshi is currently Pianist-in-Residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and he serves as resident pianist in the production team for Opera Parallèle.
Jon Finck, Press Consultant
A nationally recognized public relations and marketing practitioner with over 25 years of high-level experience in not-for-profit management, Jon is a distinguished professional among industry clients, the press and media, and his peers and colleagues. His collaborative work has generated positive press and media results that have successfully contributed to mission-driven client goals. He is experienced and adept at working with high-profile clients, providing positive pathways to challenging situations, meeting deadlines and managing crisis communications. Jon is the recipient of the 2013 San Francisco Opera Guild Star of Excellence Award. His association with performing arts businesses include the National Symphony, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Festival dei due Mondi di Spoleto, Detroit’s Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Pacific, Dayton Opera, and San Francisco Opera. In private practice, his clients have included San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Ballet, SF Ethnic Dance Festival, Chanticleer, Robert Moses’ Kin, Margy Jenkins Dance, Joe Goode, Dame Edna, Eddie Izzard, Eve Ensler/The Vagina Monologues, Rita Moreno, Betty Buckley, Paula West, The Plush Room, the Rrazz Room, and Music at Kohl Mansion.