This program gives students from various age groups the opportunity to participate in producing and performing an opera. The students experience the complete operatic experience

  • Learning and preparing the music, accompanied by orchestral instruments
  • Telling a story and developing a character with singing and movement
  • Designing costumes and make-up
  • Working with a conductor and a stage director
  • Performing on stage in front of a live audience


A new children’s opera by Christopher Pratorius based on the book of the same name by Jorge Argueta, with libretto by Roma Olvera and Brian Staufenbiel

Created in partnership with Alvarado Elementary School’s 3rd grade Spanish immersion program, Xochitl and the Flowers will be composer Christopher Pratorius’ third commissioned work for Opera Parallèle. Based on real-life events in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood, this quintessentially American immigration story tells the moving tale of a family’s determination to put down roots in a new country, while still preserving the heritage of their homeland. Visit the webpage for more information!

AMAZING GRACE – November, 2015

Continuing our tradition of developing new works for all ages, Chris Pratorius, OP’S Composer-in-residence, composed a children’s opera based on Mary Hoffman’s book, Amazing Grace. The libretto is by OP’s Education Director, Roma Olvera, and Creative Director, Brian Staufenbiel.


Amazing Grace Mary HoffmanGrace loves stories. She loves listening to them, she loves reading them, and she loves making them up.  Most of all, Grace loves to act them out – and she has always given herself the most exciting role.

So when her class decides to put on a play of Peter Pan, Grace knows exactly which part she wants. But her classmates don’t understand – how can a girl be Peter Pan? When her Nana tells her a true story of her Aunt Janet, based on the life of Janet Collins, the first African American to be a principal ballerina for the Metropolitan Opera, Grace’s confidence is restored and she sets out to prove she can do anything she puts her mind to… and the results are amazing indeed!

For more information and to watch the full production video, visit the Amazing Grace page.

MY HEAD IS FULL OF COLORS – November, 2014

My Head is Full of Covers

In November, 2014, Hands-on-Opera produced its first original commissioned work, the children’s opera, “My Head is Full of Colors” based on the beloved children’s book by Catherine Friend. The music was composed by Chris Pratorius and the libretto was by OP’s Artistic Director Nicole Paiement. Educational Programs Director Roma Olvera and a team of teaching artists worked with a group of 25 students from Creative Arts Charter School to prepare for a performance in the Koret Auditorium at the San Francisco Public Library main branch in downtown San Francisco. The cast included two young professional singers singing alongside a chorus of fourth graders accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble. It was directed by Laura Anderson and conducted by Opera Parallèle intern William Long; the author Catherine Friend was our honored guest as we performed to a standing-room only crowd. OP Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel provided artistic supervision. Many of these students had never performed an opera before, and this program provided a profound example of the power of using music to tell a story.

For more information, visit the My Head is Full of Colors page.

Aroha Philanthropies             imgres-1


THE SPIDERS’ REVENGE – November, 2013

In 2013, Hands-on-Opera produced Peter Maxwell-Davies’ opera The Spiders’ Revenge. Educational Programs Director Roma Olvera worked with a group of 60 students from Daniel Webster Elementary School to prepare for a performance in the Forum Theater at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The cast was entirely made up of fourth and fifth graders, over 50 young musicians in all, and conducted by Opera Parallèle intern William Long to a standing-room only crowd.

For more information, visit the Spiders’ Revenge page!


4th Grade Students from Daniel Webster Elementary, November 2013