2021 | 2022 Season

Opera Parallèle & Bayview Opera House present

Harriet’s Spirit

Music by Marcus Shelby

Libretto by Roma Olvera

A young girl’s story of courage

& empowerment, inspired

by Harriet Tubman.


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Creative Team & Musicians

Tiffany Austin - 'Harriet Tubman' - Soprano

Tiffany Austin, Mezzo-SopranoVocalist Tiffany Austin combines classic jazz tradition with a deep love for blues, spirituals, and contemporary soul. Hailed as a “fully formed masterpiece” by All About Jazz, Tiffany’s new album, “Unbroken” has earned rave reviews from both Downbeat and Jazziz, and has reached #16 on the Jazz Week chart.

Tiffany has performed with jazz luminaries (including pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Rodney Whitaker, and vibraphonist Roy Ayers), and continues to appear at illustrious engagements including the San Francisco and Oakland Symphonies, Birdland NYC, Dizzy’s NYC, SFJAZZ, and Walt Disney Music Hall in Los Angeles. A graduate of UC Berkeley’s Boalt School of Law, Austin decided to forgo a career as a lawyer to focus on music, her true passion, and she’s been raising the bar ever since.


Christabel Nunoo - 'Modesty' - Soprano

Soprano, Christabel Nunoo is a University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance graduate. She first sang with Opera Parallèle in 2018. Throughout her career, she has sung in master classes led by esteemed artists such as Martin Katz, Evelyn Lear, Jake Heggie, Roderick Dixon, Jesse Blumberg, and Reri Grist. Christabel most recently appeared as a young artist with the Vocal Academy of Orvieto singing Donna Anna at their Summer Festival in Bodrum, Turkey and was a featured soloist at Classical Tahoe Music Festival’s 10th Anniversary Season. Christabel owes her passion and dedication for the arts to her mother who always encouraged her to find her niche in life.

Bradley Kynard - 'Montgomery' - Baritone

Bradley Kynard, no stranger to Bay Area audiences has performed the baritone solos in Carmina Burana with GG Symphony and the role of Tamerlano (Tamerlano) with Handel Opera Project. He recorded multiple roles in Wold’s (Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil).  He created the role of Don Ramiro in (Xochitl and the Flowers) Opera Parallele and performed in the company’s production of (Trouble in Tahiti). He’s sung with the SFO chorus for 14 seasons.

San Francisco Girls Chorus - 'Say Nothing & Bully Chorus' - Harriet's Spirit

Established in 1978, the mission of the San Francisco Girls Chorus is to create outstanding performances featuring the unique and compelling sound of young women’s voices through an exemplary program committed to education and visionary leadership in the development of this art form. Under the direction of Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the San Francisco Girls Chorus has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices fused with expressiveness and drama. As a result, the Chorus vibrantly performs 1,000 years of choral masterworks from plainchant to the most challenging and nuanced contemporary works created expressly for them in programs that are as intelligently designed as they are enjoyable and revelatory to experience. Read more at www.sfgirlschorus.org/about

Marcus Shelby - Composer

This is notable jazz artist Marcus Shelby’s first foray into opera. Shelby is a composer, bassist, and educator whose work focuses on the history, present, and future of African American lives, social movements, and music education. Currently, Shelby is an artist in residence with the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival and was the resident Artistic Director for the San Francisco Jazz  Festival 2019-2020. In 2020, he was appointed as the new Artistic Director for the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, where he has been an artist in residence for more than 10 years. While gospel and folk songs were explored for the centerpiece of the operatic moment, jazz artist Marcus Shelby’s “I will not stand still” from his Tubman-inspired Big Band Suite was the perfect jumping off point for the opera. Shelby combines improvisatory elements crucial to jazz into his operatic writing, giving the opera a sense of added freedom and spontaneity. Rhythmic syncopation and rich “blues-style” chord progressions live side-by-side with more classical idioms. The outcome is truly original and refreshing.

Roma Olvera - Librettist

Roma Olvera contributes her third libretto to OP’s “Hands-On-Opera’ program for youth, following up on Amazing Grace and Xochitl and the Flowers. Olvera worked as the Educational Programs Director for Opera Parallèle where she helped to develop a three-tiered community engagement program that commissioned new works for children and  families. Ms. Olvera also developed original curricula for engaging local communities in main-stage contemporary opera productions. Born in Mexico City, Ms. Olvera is currently the Music Director for Woodland School in Portola Valley. She has taught music for several school districts in southern California, as well as developed music programs for underserved communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City.

L. Peter Callender - Director - 'Harriet's Spirit'

L. PETER CALLENDER is Artistic Director of African-American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco, Ca., resident director at American Stage Company in Saint Petersburg Florida (3 time Best Director Award), Westcoast Black Theater Troupe in Sarasota, Florida, and Associate Artist at N.Y. Classical Theater. Mr Callender is thrilled to work with this artistic team at Opera Parallèle on Harriet’s Spirit. As a playwright, his play Strange Courtesies will get its world premier at San Jose Stage in Spring 2022. On Broadway, he played in Prelude To A Kiss. He is a multi award-winning actor and director having performed in 23 Shakespeare plays and appeared at over 12 regional theaters, nationally. Mr Callender’s full bio and upcoming work can be viewed at www.lpetercallender.com.

Nicole Paiement - 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.

Read Nicole’s full bio here

Jaymes Kirksey - Assistant Conductor - 'Harriet's Spirit'

A native of the great state of Oklahoma, Jaymes Kirksey 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, Jaymes has created high quality musical interpretations ranging from Baroque to modern symphonic repertoire. He has performed in venues across Europe and the US and remains a steadfast performer in the Bay Area. He holds a Master’s Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in Violin Performance.

Rachael Heiman - Set & Costume Designer - 'Harriet's Spirit'

Rachael Heiman is a Bay Area Production Designer and Fabricator as well as a graduate of the California College of the Arts. They received an “individualized” BFA from CCA that melded textiles, sculpture, and fashion together. This is their sixth time working with Opera Parallele and is excited to be returning to the team. Rachael Heiman has been working in Bay Area as an actor as well as a costume, prop, and set designer for almost 10 years. In that time, they have also worked with the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, African American Shakespeare Company, San Francisco Speakeasy, YMTC, SF Playhouse, etc. To see more of Rachael’s work, check out their blog at www.instagram.com/rachaelheimanproductions

Kevin Myrick - Lighting Designer - 'Harriet's Spirit'

Kevin Myrick is an Artist and Technologist. Kevin was one of the first to combine video projection and personal computers, stream video online, and was a pioneer in community television. Myrick has designed for African- American Shakespeare Company (Black Eagles, Othello), TheatreFirst (The Last Sermon of Sister Imani), Ray of Light Theatre (Caroline or Change), Youth Musical Theatre Company (Batboy, Rent), Lorraine Hansberry Theatre Company (Urban Retreat, Single Black Female), and San Francisco Playhouse (Hieroglyph).

Brian Staufenbiel - Creative Director

As Creative Director and Stage Director for Opera Parallèle, Brian Staufenbiel has directed and spearheaded the conceptual designs of the company’s productions since its founding in 2010. Specializing in multimedia, immersive, and interdisciplinary productions, he actively works across a wide range of artistic disciplines collaborating with film and 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 Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, Glass’ Orphée and Les Enfant Terribles, Golijov’s Ainadamar, Berg’s Wozzeck, Davies’ The Lighthouse, Blanchard’s Champion and Dove’s Flight. Mr. Staufenbiel ‘s recent productions include Elektra with Minnesota Opera, a new film of Dove’s Flight with Seattle Opera, and productions for the online festival season of the Sun Valley Music Festival. His 2016 production of Das Rheingold with Minnesota Opera was named a Star Tribune Classical Music pick of the decade and was reprised at Arizona Opera and at L’Opéra de Montréal. Upcoming projects include the creation of a new work for Fort Worth Opera, and directing a documentary about the life of Frederica Von Stade with Paper Wings Films.

Harriet's Spirit Instrumental Ensemble

Specially formed to perform Marcus Shelby’s new orchestration for Harriet’s Spirit – the ensemble consists of:

Flute (Piccolo) Amy Likar
Oboe Andrew Port
Clarinet Ann Lavin
Bass Clarinet Peter Josheff
Percussion Mark Clifford
Violin 1 Dan Flanagan
Violin 2 Ilana Blumberg Thomas
Viola Ellen Ruth Rose
Cello Douglas Machiz
Double Bass Curtis Aikens