Scott Horton Communications
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2017
OPERA PARALLÈLE’S GEORGIA O’KEEFFE CHAMBER OPERA, TODAY IT RAINS, RECEIVES SIGNIFICANT SUPPORT FROM THE WILLIAM AND FLORA HEWLETT FOUNDATION 50 ARTS COMMISSIONS
NEW LAURA KAMINSKY/MARK CAMPBELL/KIMBERLY REED COLLABORATION SET TO PREMIERE IN MARCH 2019
San Francisco, November 14, 2017 – Opera Parallèle (OP) has received support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for its commission of Laura Kaminsky to compose the music for Today It Rains, a new chamber opera with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed (based on the original concept by Campbell) and projection design by Reed. The production will be headed by OP’s founder and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, and Paiement will conduct. The commission was originally announced in December 2015. The Hewlett Foundation has provided a major grant in the amount of $150,000 to support creation of the production, as well as a comprehensive community engagement programs and education outreach with partners UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco’s Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts beginning in May 2018, which will host in-depth music workshops, art-making and panel discussions with students and local communities, and the world premiere.
The grant is part of the Hewlett Foundation 50 Arts Commissions, a five-year, $8 million initiative celebrating the foundation’s 50th anniversary that will support the creation and premiere of new works by world-class performing artists in Bay Area communities. Opera Parallèle will partner with American Opera Projects (AOP) to co-produce Today It Rains, premiering the work in March 2019. For more information about Opera Parallèle, visit www.operaparallele.org.
“Commissioning new works is crucial to continuing to make opera a living art form,” saysNicole Paiement. “Opera Parallèle has been very engaged in commissioning children’s opera and new re-orchestrations. A major work like Today It Rains, with top creators and in collaboration with AOP gives us the opportunity to step up to yet another level as well as continue to build the canon of repertoire of opera for the 21st century. With a female composer and a female artist as the protagonist, we continue to demonstrate our organization’s commitment to empowering and promoting women artists.”
Today It Rains is inspired by a real event in the life of Georgia O’Keeffe. On April 29, 1929, O’Keeffe boarded a train in New York with her friend and fellow artist Rebecca Strand and arrived in Santa Fe three days later, soon to be transformed by the area’s landscape. The 80-minute opera imagines O’Keeffe’s personal journey on this seminal train ride as she reexamines her tumultuous marriage with photographer Alfred Stieglitz, her artistic stasis, and her need for new inspiration to guide her work. The opera’s librettists spent considerable time researching the subject, both in New York and Santa Fe, before completing the libretto. Campbell twice replicated the train ride O’Keeffe took in 1929 from New York to Santa Fe, the second time joined by Reed, who also shot a portion of the film for the projection design.
Performed by a cast of eight singers and an instrumental ensemble of eleven, Kaminsky’s music will capture the essence of the strong female protagonist’s personal journey and evoke the urban scene of her New York life, the popular music of the day (jazz, lindy hop, etc.), 19th-century German Romantic music, Irish Fiddle music, and the fresh sounds O’Keeffe encountered as she journeyed (American folk and blues, and the Native American music of New Mexico). Kaminsky observes, “With Today It Rains, we are using an event in the life of iconic American artist Georgia O’Keeffe as the point of departure to reflect on several universal issues: the human need for self-expression and the struggle for creative freedom; imbalance of power in relationships; the desire to seek—and make—beauty; the fragility and fierceness both of the natural environment; and so much more.
Reed’s projection design will also propel the action and add another dimension to the story telling. Working with Staufenbiel’s production concept, the film will occasionally take the foreground visually to illustrate Kaminsky’s music in “cinematic arias.” These sections will be composed of more abstract visuals—inspired by, but not replicating O’Keeffe’s art—such as steam billowing from a train engine, the mixing of paint on a glass palette, or memories from her childhood. For some of these visual/musical scenes, Reed will complete the film and Kaminsky will compose to the visual material; in others Reed will create the film based on Kaminsky’s completed music.
The creative team of Kaminsky, Campbell and Reed are best known for their chamber opera As One, which is the most performed new opera in the country.
ABOUT OPERA PARALLÈLE
The award-winning Opera Parallèle develops and performs contemporary operas in a dynamic balance of known and new works, in new productions that shed light on their subject matter and engage audiences’ senses and sensibilities. Opera Parallèle is the only organization in the Bay Area presenting fully cast and staged contemporary operas exclusively.
Opera Parallèle also commissions new orchestrations of contemporary grand operas, to give a sense of intimacy to its productions and to give a new life to works which might not otherwise be performed.
Artistic director Nicole Paiement founded Opera Parallèle (originally Ensemble Parallèle) to perform new music and to collaborate “in parallel” with various artists including dancers, choreographers, visual and multimedia artists. These collaborations have enriched the Company’s productions and appeal to a wide-ranging audience, from seasoned opera-goers and classical music enthusiasts to contemporary art and dance-goers.
In 2007 Opera Parallèle began to focus exclusively on contemporary opera, and in February of that year the organization presented the world premiere of Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar. Most recently its productions have included the California premiere of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck in a chamber orchestration by composer John Rea (2010); the Bay Area premiere of Philip Glass’ opera Orphée (2011); and Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with the international exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde. Subsequent significant and successful productions have included the world premiere of its commissioned reorchestration of John Harbison’s opera The Great Gatsby, Osvaldo Golijov’s riveting opera Ainadamar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned work Gesualdo, Prince of Madness; Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti; a double bill of the Weill/Brecht Mahagonny Songspiel with the Poulenc/Apollinaire Les mamelles de Tirésias; Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; and Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. The 2015-16 season saw a new production of Terence Blanchard’s Champion: An Opera in Jazz in collaboration with SFJAZZ, and Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; the 2016-2017 season featured Jonathan Dove’s Flight, Philip Glass’ hybrid dance-opera Les Enfants Terribles and a new children’s opera, Xochitl and the Flowers, by Chris Pratorius.
Since its founding, Opera Parallèle has presented more than nearly 200 performances including 32 world premieres, released 14 recordings, commissioned 22 new works, and has performed in North America, Australia, and Asia.