Opera Parallèle merges tradition with innovation to re-invent opera for our modern world. We are committed to the highest artistic standards in our productions. We foster an inclusive and creative environment that values curiosity and innovation. We are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our work. We embrace communication, respect and are accountable for our actions.
We believe in the power of music, the importance of storytelling, and the ability of art to ignite awareness.
Opera is for everyone.
Opera Parallèle is deeply committed to presenting works that explore relevant social and cultural themes. Its productions often challenge traditional operatic norms by incorporating multimedia elements, technology, and unconventional staging. By blending classical opera with contemporary ideas, the company has garnered a reputation for pushing artistic boundaries and fostering creativity within opera.
Throughout its history, Opera Parallèle has garnered critical acclaim for its thought-provoking and artistically rich performances. The company has been a champion of new and lesser-known works, shedding light on pieces that might not receive mainstream attention. This dedication to artistic exploration and collaboration has made Opera Parallèle a significant cultural contributor to the vibrant San Francisco arts scene.
As Opera Parallèle continues to evolve, it remains a vital platform for both established and emerging artists to experiment with and present opera in fresh and engaging ways, solidifying its position as a dynamic and influential force in the world of contemporary opera.
...demonstrated yet again why this company, led by Artistic Director and Conductor Nicole Paiement along with Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, has quickly become one of the Bay Area’s most indispensable artistic assets.
“…focused on developing and performing contemporary opera, designed to challenge the medium’s time-worn traditions. Opera Parallèle, is to be direct, cool.”
General & 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.
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. Most recently with OP, Paiement was conductor for the company’s groundbreaking film project, Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera.
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 L’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. Upcoming engagements include a concert performance with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Italy in January 2022, followed by her UK premiere in November 2022 with the English National Opera. 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 the Dallas Opera in April 2022 to conduct Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers and to L’Opéra de Montréal in Season 22/23.
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 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.
Brian Staufenbiel is the creative director for Opera Parallèle where he has directed and created 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 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, an award-winning graphic novel film of Talbot/Scheer’s Everest with Opera Parallèle, and a feature-length film of Gordon Getty’s opera Goodbye Mr. Chips.
Last season included new productions of Moravec and Campbell’s The Shining, a fully immersive experience of Talbot and Scheer’s Everest, for Opera Parallèle, and Golijov’s Ainadamar for L’Opera de Montréal. Staufenbiel directed a new documentary about the life of Frederica Von Stade with Paper Wings Films and co-directed, with choreographer Yayoi Kambara, IKKAI, a dance installation about Japanese incarceration camps in the United States during World War II, which was performed at Georgia Tech last summer.
This season includes productions for Opera Parallèle, Birds and Balls; the west coast premiere of composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek’s Vinkensport, combined with Balls, a World Premiere by Emmy & Grammy award winning composer Laura Karpman with a libretto by NY Times writer Gail Collins. Other projects include OP’s the west coast premiere of Fellow Travelers by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce, Ainadamar at Pacific Opera Victoria and Das Rheingold with Calgary Opera.
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 L’Opéra de Montréal and opened the 60th season at Seattle Opera in 2023. It was named a Star Tribune Classical Pick of the Decade. Other recent projects include the premiere of Miguel Zenon’s Golden City Suite with SF JAZZ, and a new production of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Canterville Ghost for the Center of Contemporary Opera in NY and LA Opera.
Staufenbiel enjoys an ongoing relationship with composer Philip Glass, having directed many of his operas including In the Penal Colony for Glass’ 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. He recently finished the Cocteau Trilogy with Opera Parallèle’s acclaimed production of La belle et la bête.
Staufenbiel recently left his position after seventeen years as the director of the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he mounted a wide spectrum of award-winning productions ranging from traditional operas to commissioned works for the program. 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.
Artistic Producer & Community Director, Assistant to the General & Artistic Director
Daniel Harvey is an experienced creative professional with 13+ years experience in artistic, administrative, and production roles across the creative sector. Currently as Artistic Producer & Community Director for Opera Parallèle in San Francisco, he works as a key member of the artistic team producing all of the company’s main stage productions, as well as overseeing all community programming and partnerships. In this role, he created Expansive a new annual showcase event for transgender classical artists in partnership with the Transgender District SF. Daniel’s background in set & costume design, and theatre production informs his current work as a creative producer.
Daniel is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia and moved to San Francisco in 2017. In the Bay Area, Daniel has also previously worked as a program director for Intersection for the Arts and served on the board for contemporary dance company LEVYdance. His costume designs can also be seen occasionally on stages around San Francisco. Daniel is known as a persistently positive ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and collaborative team member with a passion for storytelling and a strong belief in the change it can affect.
Mme. Aviani is a marketing and digital transformation professional with an extensive career in the non-profit sector, the arts, and technology. With a love of opera and a passion for connection and transformation through experience, her international marketing career has spanned from San Francisco, California to Paris, France. She has shared her expertise in marketing and innovation with The Envisionaries Group, EcoVadis, St. Anthony Foundation, ODC Dance, The Iyengar Association, Deep Roots Urban Refuge, Numi Tea, and other purpose lead organizations.
Director of Production
Phil Lowery is a Bay Area based stage director, production manager, educator, and an AEA actor and stage manager. His work in opera and operetta began in the early 1990s, as co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of Berkeley Contemporary Opera. He served on the Board of Westwind International Folk Ensemble, and produced several of their home seasons; was a Resident Artist (actor and teaching artist) with San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and later served as their Education Director; he has been the Production Manager for the Sing For America Foundation since its inception; and he has toured dozens of operettas around the Bay Area with Lamplighters Music Theatre, on staff as Production Coordinator. He has directed for companies such as Berkeley Opera, Just Opera, Lamplighters Music Theatre, Lyric Theatre of San Jose, North Bay Opera, Pocket Opera, and several independent productions with partners such as Composers Inc, Earplay, Ninth Planet, and Redwood Symphony.
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.
Brett comes to Opera Parallele with a variety of experience in small businesses, event support and financial services for primarily non-profit community, theatre and arts presenting organizations, though he has also owned high-end custom stationery stores in San Francisco, was part of producing team that ran a yearlong production on the life of Buckminster Fuller, and worked on features films in Los Angeles. Brett has a passion for providing opportunities that connect people with new ideas in meaningful and impactful ways, that can change their lives and our communities.
Scholar in Residence
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.
Eman Isadiar combines a successful track record in nonprofit management and fundraising with a background in music. Prior to joining Opera Parallèle, Eman has held key leadership roles at Santa Rosa Symphony, Fremont Symphony Orchestra, Golden State Youth Orchestra, and Bear Valley Music Festival, and is credited for a period of artistic and financial growth during his tenure at each of those institutions. He has been a faculty member at Community Music Center in San Francisco, where he taught music to underserved children, and has also taught as a bilingual music instructor at the Lycée Français de San Francisco. Eman currently serves on the board of Ars Minerva, a company dedicated to introducing unknown or forgotten Baroque chamber operas to modern audiences in San Francisco.
Muskan Parashar is the development associate at Opera Parallèle. A Presser Scholar and soprano, she received a BM in vocal performance, a BA in behavioral science, and a minor in linguistics from San José State University in 2022. She was a founding member as well as the Director of Development for SJSU’s Opera Production Club, which is where she was first introduced to development as a field.
Muskan is still an avid performer in addition to being a part of OP’s team. She has been a soloist and ensemble singer for various choirs, early music ensembles, and opera productions (including SJSU’s Choraliers and Opera Theater as well as Opera San José). Muskan is a multilingual and multicultural singer, having training in both Indian and Western vocal performance. She has a passion for equity, social justice, and activism, especially relating to her experiences as a queer Indian-American musician.
Michael Stephens comes to Opera Parallèle with more than 30 years of diverse fundraising for performing arts, most especially as a grant writer. An anthropology graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Stephens’ first career was as a museum anthropologist and curator in Berkeley and Taos, New Mexico. In 1984 he shifted to the performing arts as grants manager at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Subsequently, he has held positions as grants manager, associate director of development or director of development at San Diego Opera, California Shakespeare Theater, Harmony Foundation International, and Stagebridge Senior Theatre Company. Stephens has served on a variety of Boards and professional committees, including the Southwestern Association on Indian Affairs (SWAIA), the New Mexico Association of Museums (Vice President), the Curator’s Committee of the American Association of Museums, Sinfonia San Francisco, the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Diego, Fern Street Circus, and California Arts Advocates.
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.
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.
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.
Jay Cruz is a composer and music technologist based in San Francisco. Recently graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Jay has gone on to work with Opera Parallele, and visual artist Malena Morton to create fresh productions for the Bay Area. Jay also helps injured musicians heal through use of biofeedback, effectively speeding up recovery times and reducing pain. In the future, he hopes to continue dazzling audiences with his new pieces, and transport his listeners to unique and abstract spaces.
Community, IDEA & Contracting Associate
Emerson McAlister is the Community, IDEA, and Contracting Associate for Opera Parallèle. They began their professional music journey by pursuing a BFA in Vocal Performance from Carnegie Mellon University. There, they performed as a soprano in such roles as La Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro and The Governess in The Turn of the Screw. Emerson then continued their education at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where they received their MM in Vocal Performance.
Role highlights there include Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus and Vitellia in La clemenza di Tito. As a Jewish individual, Emerson found success performing Jake Heggie’s Another Sunrise around the Bay Area, a piece that is very dear to them. After years of being a soprano, Emerson decided to make the choice to pursue gender confirming hormone therapy, taking testosterone. This allowed them to pursue a career as a mezzo-soprano. As a mezzo, Emerson won the San Francisco Districts of the Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition, also winning a Special Encouragement award at the Western Regionals. Their voice continues to develop and they are currently a tenor. As a disabled trans individual, Emerson has a passion for equity and inclusion.
EDI Project Team Member
Bradley Kynard, baritone, is no stranger to Bay Area audiences. This season Mr. Kynard appeared in two operatic premieres – The Difference (Patzner) and Prospero’s Island (Shearer/Stevens). He also sang the role of Zebul in Jeptha (Handel), the bass soloist in Mer hahn en neue Oberkeet (BWV 212; Bach) and filmed the cinematic version of the new opera A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil (Wold).
Past performances include Sophia’s Forest (Beecher/Moscovitch) and Harriet’s Spirit (Shelby/Olvera) with Opera Parallèle, Hiob (Mendelssohn), Ballad of the Brown King (Bonds), with Ukiah Symphony Orchestra and he sang the role of Dagoo in Moby Dick (Heggie/Scheer) with San Francisco Opera. He performed baritone solos in Carmina Burana (Orff) with Golden Gate Symphony and sang the role of Brooke in Little Women (Adamo) with Island City Opera. www.bradleykynard.com
Ruth A. Felt
Frederica von Stade
- Jerome C. Roth, Chair
- Peggy Otum, Vice Chair
- Lisa Lindelef, Secretary
- Jane Hartley, Treasurer
- Clifford (Kip) Cranna
- Dr. Melinda Luisa de Jesús
- Marylene Delbourg-Delphis
- Louise Fox
- Marcia Lazer
- Steven Lei
- Jeff Mattlin
- Simin Naaseh
- Nancy Petrisko
- John Roevekamp
- Tony Shayne
- Deb Stallings
- Jee Young You
- Joseph Chan
- Steve Kesten
- Robert Ripps
- Nancy Roberts
- Lawrence Siegel, JD