Music by Lembit Beecher | Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch | Sung in English with supertitles | Running time approx 60 minutes with no intermission
Sophia’s Forest explores the lasting effects of the immigrant experience on families and the ways children use their imaginations to cope with trauma and find healing. The innovative opera tells the story of a nine-year-old recent immigrant to the US who, through a traumatic journey, escaped the chaos of a civil war in her homeland.
Nine electronically-controlled sound sculptures, designed and operated by composer Lembit Beecher, placed across the stage are a direct outgrowth of Sophia’s memories: bike wheels recall Sophia’s youthful adventures with her sister Emma, and wine glasses become a central part of her mother Anna’s coping once the family moves to America.
- February 24, 2022 – 8:00pm
- February 25, 2022 – 8:00pm
- February 26, 2022 – 5:00pm & 8:00pm
Once upon a time, in a world of magic and wonder, the true love of a beautiful girl finally dispelled the torment of a feral but gentle-hearted beast. Jean Cocteau’s sublime adaptation of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy-tale masterpiece is a landmark of motion picture fantasy, with unforgettably romantic performances by Jean Marais and Josette Day. By transforming the characters of both the Beast and Belle from childlike figures to complex adult characters living in a surrealistic dream world, Cocteau transforms the tale into a surreal vision of death and desire while exploring themes that continue to resonate today—identity, compassion, and inner beauty. This timeless icon of cinematic wonder served as the inspiration for Philip Glass’ 1994 opera of the same name.
OP partnered with Grace Cathedral to present this panel conversation exploring the lasting effects of the immigrant experience on families and the ways children use their imaginations to cope with trauma and find healing. Featuring composer Lembit Beecher, Neuroscientist and Director Indre Viskontas, and refugee advocate and leader in the Afghan diaspora Malaak Malikyar Sills via the Islamic Networks Group – ING, in conversation with Dean Malcolm Clemens Young.
The Joy Luck Club
Once I Was You
Composer Created Instruments & Sound Art
Björk - 'Biophilia - Moon'
Nick Cave - 'Soundsuits'
Sara Bouchard - 'Breathe, River'
Harry Partch - 'Delusion of the Fury'
The LGBT Asylum Project
Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay
Catholic Charities SF
Cast & Creatives
Sophia - Soprano
Anna - Mezzo-Soprano
Wes - Baritone
Young Sophia - Actor
Emma - Girl Soprano
Emma - Girl Soprano
Composer & Librettist
Artistic + Production
Conductor, Nicole Paiement is the Founder and General & Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle (OP). Recently for OP, Paiement conducted Glass’ La Belle et la Bête and Everest: An Immersive Experience by Talbot, a work she originally premiered on stage at The Dallas Opera, where she is Principal Guest Conductor. An active guest conductor, Paiement has performed with companies including the Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Atlanta Opera. In 2020 Paiement made her debut with L’Opéra de Montréal with Benjamin’s Written on Skin, returning in 2023 to conduct Golijov’s Ainadamar. This season Paiement also made her UK debut with the English National Opera conducting Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and conducted a series of concerts with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Italy. Upcoming engagements include a return to London to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center. The 2023/2024 season will include 2 world premieres with OP, a return to The Dallas Opera, followed by a debut with the Volksoper Vienna conducting both a symphonic concert and an opera by John Adams. Photo Credit: Cory Weaver
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.
Marisely Cortés Fonseca
Del Sol String Quartet
Major support for this production has been provided by Bob Ellis, Stephen & Diane Heiman, and Paul L. King, with support from Producers Circle members Donna Dubinsky and Len Shustek.
Major institutional and corporate support for Opera Parallèle has been provided by Adobe, JW & HM Goodman Family Foundation, Horizons Foundation, The Lemala Fund, Sam Mazza Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, City & County of San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and The Shenson Foundation.