2021 | 2022 Season

Opera Parallèle presents

Sophia’s Forest

Music by Lembit Beecher

Libretto by Hannah Moscovitch

An immigrant family’s story

of hope & the healing

power of imagination.


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Creative Team & Musicians

Maggie Finnegan - 'Sophia' - Soprano

Returning to Opera Parallèle, Maggie Finnegan has collaborated in productions with: Boston Lyric Opera; Belgian National Orchestra; White Snake Projects; Portland Bach Experience; Boston Baroque; The Andriessen Festival (Netherlands); American Chamber Opera; National Sawdust; Vital Opera; Experiments in Opera; MIT Media Lab; PyeongChang Winter Music Festival; Handel and Haydn Society; Beth Morrison Projects; Capital Fringe Chamber Music; Center for Contemporary Opera; and, was recently was presented in a duo recital with Stephanie Blythe.

Kindra Scharich - 'Anna' - Mezzo-Soprano

Mezzo-soprano Kindra Scharich has been praised by The San Francisco Chronicle for her “exuberant vitality”, “fearless technical precision”, “deep-rooted pathos” and “irrepressible musical splendor.” Ms. Scharich has performed more than 250 art songs in 13 languages and 40 roles in the operatic repertoire. In 2019 she sang in three premières: The world première of Laura Kaminsky’s Today it Rains (Opera Parallèle), the West Coast première of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves (West Edge Opera) and the modern day premiere of Domenico Freschi’s 1680 opera Ermelinda (ArsMinerva.) Scharich’s recordings include: In meinem Himmel: The Mahler Song Cycles (2018), To my Distant Beloved, with pianist Jeffrey LaDeur (2020), Nepomuceno Overseas, with pianist Ricardo Ballestero (2021) and David Conte’s Everyone Sang (2018) kindrascharich.com

Bradley Kynard - 'Wes' - 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.

Charlotte Fanvu - 'Young Sophia' - Actor

Charlotte Fanvu is thrilled to return to Opera Parallele as Young Sophia in Sophia’s Forest! Last year, she performed the role of Meg Weathers in Opera Parallele’s Everest: A Graphic Novel Opera. The 12-year-old San Francisco native began her vocal training at 6 years old with the Young Women’s Choral Projects of San Francisco and enjoys singing, dancing, and acting. Charlotte is also an aspiring baker and hopes to find a way to combine her passions for the performing and culinary arts when she grows up.

Samantha Fung-Lee - 'Emma' - Girl Soprano

Samantha Fung-Lee, soprano, has been a member of the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) for eleven years. As part of SFGC’s Premier Ensemble, she has performed on many stages including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Her time as a soloist confirms a deep interest in the pursuit of music in college and beyond. While singing is her passion, she also balances challenging academics as a junior at Lowell High School.

Victoria Ko - 'Emma' - Girl Soprano

Victoria Ko, soprano, joined the San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) at age four and has been a soprano in SFGC’s Premier Ensemble for six seasons. She is currently a senior at Stanford Online High School. Victoria has performed at The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, London’s Windsor Castle, the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, and many more. In her free time, she enjoys travelling, cooking, snorkeling, and playing games with friends.

Lembit Beecher - Composer & Sculpture Performer

Noted for his collaborative spirit and interdisciplinary projects, Estonian-American composer Lembit Beecher’s music deals with place, ecology, memory, and the many ways people tell stories. Lembit grew up under the redwoods in Santa Cruz, California, and now lives in New York City. His most recent opera, “Sky on Swings,” about the relationship of two women with Alzheimer’s disease, was premiered by Frederica von Stade and Marietta Simpson at Opera Philadelphia.

Hannah Moscovitch - Librettist

Hannah Moscovitch is considered one of the strongest playwriting voices in Canada. Her work has won multiple awards, most recently the prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama. She was the first playwright to win the Trillium Book Award in the prize’s twenty-seven year history for This is War, a play premiered by Tarragon Theatre in 2013, which also won the Toronto Critic’s Award for Best Canadian Play. Moscovitch’s other writing for the stage includes Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story co-created with Ben Caplan and Christian Barry (winner of a Fringe First and a Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and nominated for six 2018 Drama Desk Awards in NY), Bunny (premiered at Stratford Festival and winner of a Toronto Critic’s Award for Best Canadian Play), What a Young Wife Ought to Know (premiered by Halifax’s Neptune and 2b theatre company (nominated for the Masterworks Award and a Dora Mavor Moore Best Touring Production Award), as well as The Russian Play and Essay, both of which won awards at SummerWorks Performance Festival. Beecher and Moscovitch have collaborated on three opera projects to date. Most recently, their work Sky on Swings premiered at the Philadelphia Opera. Their first collaboration, I Have No Stories to Tell You, premiered with Gotham Chamber Opera in 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was staged in 2017 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the O17 festival.

Nicole Paiement - Conductor

Conductor, Nicole Paiement is widely acclaimed for her interpretations of contemporary operas. As Founder and Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle (OP) in San Francisco, Mo. Paiement has conducted many new productions, commissions and world premieres including Laura Kaminsky’s Today it Rains; John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby; Blanchard’s Champion; Dove’s Flight; Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; Osvaldo Goljov’s Ainadamar and John Rea’s reorchestration of Wozzeck. Most recently Paiement conducted OP’s new film production Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera by Joby Talbot, a work she originally premiered on stage at The Dallas Opera. An active guest conductor, Mo. Paiement made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and at Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in 2020. Other guest conducting engagements have brought her to Fort Worth Symphony, Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Hollywood Bowl. Upcoming engagements include a concert performance with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in January 2022, followed by her UK premiere in November 2022 at the English National Opera. Paiement will return to London in June 2023 to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center. Mo. Paiement will also return to the Dallas Opera, where she is Principal Guest Conductor in April 2022 and to Opéra de Montréal in 2023. In addition to being a leader in contemporary opera, Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.

Brian Staufenbiel - 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.

Jessica Bejarano - Assistant Conductor

Jessica Bejarano is the founder and music director of the San Francisco Philharmonic! She also serves as music director of ELM Youth Orchestra, assistant conductor of Opera Parallèle and music director at Escuela Bilingue Internationale. Jessica is a regular guest conductor with the Antonio Soler Orquestra in Spain and has guest conducted in the Czech Republic, Venezuela, Spain, Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Russia. She has held conducting positions with numerous orchestras throughout the Bay Area and United States. Jessica was named KQED Arts’ Bay Brilliant Top 10 Artists of 2018, was featured by PBS NewsHour as an emerging female conductor to watch and recently featured on NBC’s The Today Show with Natalie Morales as the “Woman Breaking Barriers as a Trailblazing Symphony Conductor.”

Jon Altemus - Scenic Designer

For the last 30 years, Jon Altemus’ work has revolved around the intersection between natural and human history.  His career has ranged from art making to stage productions to creating museum exhibits at a broad range of museums ranging from the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center to the Smithsonian.  In the last several years, he has collaborated on stage productions with Opera Parallele in San Francisco and shown his work at various galleries in the Bay Area, including 2 solo shows and one group show at Canessa Gallery.  Altemus is particularly interested in the possibilities that emerge through collaboration with other artists, musicians, dancers and beyond.

Marisely Cortès Fonseca - Costume Designer

Aaron Curry - Lighting Designer

Aaron Curry (he/him/his) is humbled to make his OP debut. Previous credits include work at the American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Opera, Butler Opera, Merrimack College, and the Hangar Theatre. Aaron now serves as the Creative Director for World of Illumination, designing the world’s largest drive through and immersive lighting experiences in the world. MFA University of Texas at Austin. aaroncurrydesigns.com

Del Sol String Quartet

Del Sol began as a thought on the night shift at Fermilab. Charlton Lee loved the cutting edge of physics research – always looking for the next discovery, pushing boundaries. But he missed the way music connected people, building community by communicating in ways physics never would. What if he could bring that scientific passion for exploration to a string quartet? Twenty-six years later, Del Sol is still sharing music that brings out the endorphins. Music that asks why not? Fascinated by the feedback loop between social change, technology, and artistic innovation, the San Francisco-based ensemble is a leading force in 21st century chamber music – whether introducing Ben Johnston’s microtonal Americana at the Library of Congress, taking Aeryn Santillan’s gun-violence memorial to the streets of the Mission District, exploring Andean soundscapes with Gabriela Lena Frank and traditional musicians, or collaborating with Huang Ruo and the anonymous poets who carved their words into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station during the years of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The current Del Sol lineup, marked by the arrival of violinist Sam Weiser alongside mainstays Kathryn Bates and Ben Kreith, bring a fresh energy, freedom, and precision to the group. Read more at www.delsolquartet.com

Divesh Karamchandani - Percussion

Divesh Karamchandani is a San Francisco-based percussionist and educator. He is a co-founder of Prism Percussion. His notable performances include One Found Sound, New Century Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, San Francisco Symphony, and many others. Karamchandani earned a Bachelor of Music from California State University, Stanislaus, and a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He serves as the Lecturer of Percussion at both CSU Stanislaus and CSU East Bay.