Composer Gregory Spears | Librettist Greg Pierce
Based on the novel by Thomas Mallon
Friday, June 21, 2024 7:30 PM
Saturday, June 22, 2024 7:30 PM
Sunday, June 23, 2024 3 PM
Ticket Prices: $50 – $120; $30 (Student)
Venue: Presidio Theatre, San Francisco | Get Directions
The West Coast premiere of the opera adaptation of Thomas Mallon’s novel Fellow Travelers, a tender love story and political thriller set in the corridors of power during the McCarthy era. Adapted by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce, Opera Parallèle and the Presidio Theatre are proud to bring this contemporary classic to the West Coast, a beautiful opera with the message that love will always flourish under persecution.
Sung in English with supertitles | Runtime: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including intermission
Fellow Travelers follows the story of Hawk and Tim, who become clandestine lovers at the height of the McCarthy Era in 1950’s Washington D.C. Recent college graduate Timothy Laughlin is eager to join the crusade against communism, and a chance
encounter with handsome State Department official Hawkins Fuller leads to Tim’s first job—and his first love affair with a man.
Drawn into a maelstrom of deceit, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions and his forbidden love for Fuller. The piece uses the love affair of Laughlin and Fuller to shed light on the ‘Lavender Scare’, an often-overlooked period of McCarthyism that resulted in the mass firings of suspected homosexuals from the United States government. With Senator McCarthy’s investigations into ‘sexual subversives’, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his love for God, and his love for Fuller.
Sung in English with supertitles | Runtime: 2 hours, 15 minutes, including intermission
Cast & Creativesfor Fellow Travelers
Jonathan Pierce Rhodes*
Hometown: Orlando, FL, USA
Known for his “honey-voice,” Jonathan Pierce Rhodes, Tenor, is a native of Orlando, Florida. This season Pierce is expected to continue on in his second-year residency in The Washington National Opera's Cafritz Young Artist Program where he is slated to perform as “Pong” in Puccini’s Turandot, a new production directed by Francesca Zambello. Pierce’s previous roles with WNO include, Frank in the Passion of Mary Cardwell Dawson, a role he originated in 2019 with The Glimmerglass Festival, as well as Police Buddy 2 in the critically acclaimed new Opera Blue by Jeanine Tesori and Tazwell Thompson. This fall, Pierce will be making his house and role debut with New Orleans Opera as "The Son" in their new production of Blue as well. This past summer, Pierce covered the title role of Candide in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide at The Glimmerglass Festival, as well as performed the role of Cacambo, a role for which the Wall Street Journal noted him a "Big-Voiced Standout."
Photo credit Julius Sanchez
Hometown: Atlanta, GA, USA
Joseph Lattanzi commands attention for his “robust vocalism,” “unmistakable charisma,” and “undeniable star potential.”
Lattanzi established himself as a major artist in the current landscape of opera with his portrayal of Hawkins Fuller in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’ and Greg Pierce's Fellow Travelers. Future engagements include Paul Jobs in The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs at San Francisco Opera, a role and house debut as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore at Minnesota Opera, the title role of Don Giovanni at Arizona Opera, and a world premiere with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
He has spent 5 years on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. His ever-growing operatic repertoire includes Figaro in the Barber of Seville, Escamillo in Carmen, Silvio in I Pagliacci, Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva in The Marriage of Figaro, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Orpheus in Matthew Aucoin’s Euridice, Lt. Audebert in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night, Dandini in Rossini’s Cinderella and he has been heard by audiences at Seattle Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Merola Opera Program, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Opera, Virginia Opera, Atlanta Opera, PROTOTYPE festival & Grand Teton Music Festival - among others.
Photo credit Patricia Westley
Hometown: The Woodlands, TX, USA
Maya Kherani (Soprano), a first-generation Indian-American, has been lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations in repertoire from the Baroque to the modern. Recent projects include a debut at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Château de Versailles as DRUSILLA/FORTUNA in L’incoronazione di Poppea; AUTONOE in Sartorio’s Orfeo with Opéra national de Montpellier, Muffat’s Missa in labore requies with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with Vancouver Symphony; NITOCRIS in Handel’s Belshazzar, Messiah, Bach’s Mass in A major, and bravura Baroque arias with American Bach Soloists; a world premiere as PIPER Pay the Piper at Glyndebourne, Messiah with Boston Baroque and Portland Baroque Orchestra , Reena Esmail’s Meri Sakhi Ki Avaaz (My Sister’s Voice) with Berkeley Symphony; and SUSANNA in Le Nozze di Figaro at Opera San Jose. Upcoming projects include ZERLINA in Don Giovanni with Boston Baroque, PROSERPINA/EURIDICE in L'Orfeo with Pacific MusicWorks, to be recorded for commercial release, and a Barbara Strozzi program for Bellingham Symphony. Prior to her singing career, Maya graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. She currently makes her home in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.
Photo credit Veronique Kherian
Hometown: Northridge, CA, USA
Kurt Winterhalter is a baritone with a Master of Music in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. This proud Filipino-American is an active musician and actor in the performing fields of Los Angeles and San Francisco, with a diverse resume in both opera and musical theater. Kurt has featured as a soloist with the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, North Valley Chamber Chorale and the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra. His latest operatic appearances include Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro (comp. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lib. Lorenzo Da Ponte) with Prague Summer Nights Young Artists Music Festival, and Pausanias in Une éducation manquée (comp. Emmanuel Chabrier, lib. Eugène Leterrier & Albert Vanloo) with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Photo credit Greg Crowder
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
Praised for her “perfectly spun, silvery soprano” and “brilliant, crystalline top,” Elena Galván has gained recognition as a soprano with a “bubbly personality and wicked sense [of] fun.” Elena recently made her house debut at Syracuse Opera, Tri-Cities Opera, and Hawaii Opera Theatre as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, a role she also performed at Florida Grand Opera to critical acclaim. Elena has performed roles of Adele (Die Fledermaus), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Norina (Don Pasquale), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi) at companies across the US such as Opera San José, Florida Grand Opera, and Opera Ithaca. In addition, Elena has been a participant in prestigious Young Artist Programs at Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Saratoga, Virginia Opera, and Kentucky Opera. Elena holds degrees in Vocal Performance from Ithaca College and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Photo credit Jessica Osber
Hometown: Portland, OR, USA
Soprano, Cara Gabrielson, was a 2020 National Semifinalist in The Metropolitan Opera Laffont Competition and made her San Francisco Symphony debut as the Soprano Soloist in Bach’s Magnificat. In 2022 Cara joined the roster of The Metropolitan Opera in Mozart’s Idomeneo and returned to the San Francisco Symphony as the Soprano Soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana and Uematsu’s Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy. Recent performances include solo recitals for the Oregon Bach Festival and Portland Opera Guild, Bach’s Jauchzett Gott in allen Landen (Boise Baroque Orchestra), Galatea in Handel’s Acis & Galatea (Opera Idaho), Parasha in Stravinsky’s Mavra (Berkeley Chamber Opera), Elisena in Porta’s Ifigenia in Aulide (Ars Minerva) and the Soprano Soloist in Messiah (Handel Choir of Baltimore). She is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Georg Solti Accademia di Bel Canto, Opera Saratoga Young Artist Program, Tafelmusik Baroque Fellowship and Houston Grand Opera's Young Artists Vocal Academy.
Photo credit Jiyang Chen
Estonian Frank/Interrogator/Senator McCarthy
Hometown: Emeryville, CA, USA
Baritone Daniel Cilli has performed an array of new and standard works throughout the bay area and the United States. Daniel debuted in 2016 at the San Francisco Opera and has returned for multiple engagements during the current Centennial season. Previously with Opera Parallèle: Le Directeur in Les mamelles de Tirésias by Poulenc/Apollinaire, Thames Captain in Heart of Darkness by Tarik O’Regan/Tom Phillips/Joseph Conrad, title role in Gesualdo, Prince of Madness graphic opera by Dante De Silva/Mitchell Morris.
Some highlight projects elsewhere include: Pa Zegner in Proving Up by Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek (Pasadena Opera); Burton in Sharaku Unframed-premiere by Hiroya Miura (Left Coast Chamber Ensemble); Captain Ladoux in Mata Hari by Matt Marks and Paul Peers (West Edge Opera); the title role in Sweeney Todd; Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha, Javert in Les Miserables; and he has made special appearances with the wrestlers of Oakland’s Hoodslam! Daniel was a principal artist 2006-2010 at Opera San José where he performed 15 title and leading roles. He has also performed with Earplay Ensemble, SF Contemporary Music Players; West Bay, Livermore, Utah, Des Moines Metro, Utah Festival, Central City opera companies; the Houston Grand Opera Studio, the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals.
Photo credit Daniel Cilli
Senator Potter/General Arlie/Bartender
Hometown: San Francisco, CA, USA
Bradley Kynard, baritone, is no stranger to Bay Area audiences. This season Mr. Kynard appeared in two operatic premiers – 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 – 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 (Little Women) – Adamo with Island City Opera.
Photo credit Will Manuel
Potter’s Assistant/Bookseller/Technician/French Priest
Hometown: San Francisco, CA, USA
Bass-baritone Matthew Lovell is an artist praised for his stage presence and musicianship. A native to New England, Mr. Lovell resides in San Francisco and performs throughout the Bay Area. Recent engagements include Zuniga in Carmen - Bizet with Festival Opera and Surin in Pique Dame - Tchaikovsky with West Bay Opera. Other roles Mr. Lovell has performed include Belcore in L’elisir d’amore - Donizetti, Il Conte Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro - Mozart, Abimelech in Samson et Dalila - Saint-Saëns, Demitrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Britten, and Leporello in Don Giovanni - Mozart. Recently he was thrilled to be a part of composer Chris Walden’s Missa lubileum Aurem which has been nominated for a Grammy. Upcoming engagements include the roles of Fafner, Hunding, and Hagen in West Edge Opera’s production The Legend of the Ring.
Photo credit Clifton Romig
Composer & Librettist
Hometown: Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA
Gregory Spears is a New York-based composer who has been commissioned by The New York Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Seraphic Fire, The Crossing, Volti, BMI/Concert Artists Guild, Vocal Arts DC, New York Polyphony, The New York International Piano Competition, the JACK Quartet, and The New York Youth Symphony among others. Spears' 21-movement solo piano cycle Seven Days was released in the form of a custom designed app produced by the 92Y in fall 2021. His latest opera Castor and Patience, written in collaboration with former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, was commissioned by Cincinnati Opera for their 100th Anniversary and premiered in 2022. The opera, nominated for an International Opera Award, was a New York Times "Critic's Pick." They are currently writing a new opera for Santa Fe Opera (The Righteous) for premiere in Summer 2024.
Photo Credit: Dario Acosta
Hometown: Shelburne, Vermont, USA
Greg Pierce is a playwright, librettist, and lyricist based in New York City. He wrote the libretto for the opera The Hours with composer Kevin Puts, commissioned and produced by the Metropolitan Opera and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He wrote the libretto for the opera Fellow Travelers with composer Gregory Spears, which premiered at Cincinnati Opera. With composer Nico Muhly, he wrote the opera-film The Glitch, commissioned by Catapult Opera. He has written two musicals with composer John Kander, The Landing and Kid Victory, which was co-produced by the Vineyard Theatre and Signature Theatre. His play Slowgirl was the inaugural play of Lincoln Center's Claire Tow Theater (LCT3). His play Her Requiem, a Lincoln Center Theater commission, was also produced by LCT3. His play Cardinal was commissioned and produced by Second Stage Theater. The Quarry, written with composer Randal Pierce was commissioned and produced by Vermont Stage Company. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, co-written with director Stephen Earnhart, based on the novel by Haruki Murakami, premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Greg has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation, Yaddo, The Djerassi Institute, the New York Public Library, and the Baryshnikov Arts Center. He has a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College.
Creative + Production
Jaymes Kirksey Jr. made his conducting debut in 2014 with Young Musicians Choral Orchestra (YMCO), filling in for famed Los Angeles conductor musician Anthony Parnther, leading rehearsals in arias by Verdi, Donizetti, Mozart and Aaron Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait with narration by famed actor Delroy Lindo. He serves as Music Director for the Bay Area’s acclaimed Young Musician Choral Orchestra and frequent guest artist/conductor for Golden Gate Symphony.
A frequent guest soloist to orchestras, 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.
As a resident of the Bay Area, Kirksey strives to bridge gaps between societal norms for classical music and the presence of African American musicians on the concert stage. Many of his students of color often join him on stage and go off to receive training from many renowned artists and institutions including Curtis, Peabody, Juilliard, USC and others. Kirksey has performed in venues across Europe and the US and remains a steadfast performer in the Bay Area.
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. Most recently he finished the Cocteau Trilogy with Opera Parallèle’s acclaimed production of La Belle et la Bête, and the first fully immersive opera experience of Talbot and Scheer’s Everest.
On film Staufenbiel recently directed pieces for the online festival season of the Sun Valley Music Festival, a film of Dove/Angelis’ Flight for Seattle Opera, a graphic novel opera film of Talbot/Scheer’s Everest with Opera Parallèle, and a feature length film of Gordon Getty’s opera Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Upcoming film projects include a documentary about the life of Frederica von Stade with Paper Wings Films, and Out of the Darkness, a dance film about Japanese incarceration camps in the United States during World War II. Staufenbiel recently directed Golijov/Hwang’s Ainadamar at L’Opéra de Montréal which will be reprised at Victoria Opera next season. Other upcoming directing engagements include Das Rheingold for Seattle Opera and Calgary Opera and The Shining for Atlanta Opera.
Photo Credit: Cory Weaver.
Scenic & Props Designer
Jacquelyn Scott works as a production designer, art director, scenic designer and props designer for theater and film across the Bay Area. Her work has been seen at American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Playhouse, Magic Theatre, Shotgun Players, The Cutting Ball Theater, Word for Word, and Z Space. Past favorite credits include Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret and Nia Vardalos’ Tiny Beautiful Things at the SF Playhouse, Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady at the Magic Theatre, Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabbler at The Cutting Ball Theater, and Talbot’s Everest with Opera Parallèle.
Y. Sharon Peng
Costume & Hair and Make-Up Designer
Y. Sharon Peng is a guild member of IATSE Local 706 and an alum of FIDM. Recent stage costumes include La Muerte Baila (Teatro Visión), Rent (South Bay Musical Theatre), Head Over Heels (Berkeley Playhouse), and Chriskirkpatrickmas (Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Recent titles in Film & Television include Ride (Costume Supervisor), Finger (Costume Designer), Anime Crimes Division Season 2 (Costume Designer), and Stranger Things Season 4 (Makeup Artist). Sharon is a Wig & Makeup foreperson at San Francisco Opera and heads the Wigs & Makeup Departments of both Opera San José and the Merola Opera Program. Recent Wig & Makeup design in opera include The Rape of Lucretia (Merola Opera Program), The Shining (Opera Parallèle), and The Barber of Seville (Opera San José). Visit ysharonpeng.net for more work across two decades.
Hometown: Oakland, CA, USA
Spense Matubang is a freelance lighting and projections designer currently based in Oakland, California. They have been making theatre in the Bay Area since 2018. They received their degree in Theater Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2020.
Spense uses their career as a never-ending outlet for exploration, creative experimentation, and community building. They have previously designed for The Chikahan Company, City Lights Theater Company, EnActe Arts, Town Hall Theater Company, Ferocious Lotus, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Shotgun Players, SF Playhouse, West Valley Light Opera, Crowded Fire, Hillbarn Theatre, ACT Youth Conservatory, and Jewel Theatre.
Photo credit Ash Brown
*Making Opera Parallèle debut this season
Support for Fellow Travelers is provided in part by Philip Goward & Theodore Ueki, Stephen & Diane Heiman, and Robert Ripps & Steven Spector.