Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor
Nicole Paiement (Opera Parallèle Artistic Director, Conductor, Founder) has gained an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works and she has toured extensively in the US and Asia. This past April, Paiement was awarded the American Composer’s Forum “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music.
Her 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. In Fall 2015, Paiement assumed the post of Associate Conductor for the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott. She will return in 2017 to conduct Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw.
As Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle, Paiement has conducted many new productions, including: world premieres of Lou Harrison’s final version of Young Caesar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness (presented as a graphic opera), Luciano Chessa’s commissioned opera A Heavenly Act, and the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby; the West Coast premieres of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Philip Glass’ Orphée; Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel; the American Premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; and the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking. Under her baton last season, the company performed the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center and a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse.
Additionally, Paiement has been the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) where she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living American composers. At SFCM, she holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music. Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC). In 2014, she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award. In 2015, she received the Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching.
Paiement is also an active guest conductor. Current guest conducting engagements include: Robert Ward’s The Crucible and George Frideric Handel’s Xerxes at The Glimmerglass Festival, and coming up, Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera, and the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife with Washington National Opera. She will also appear this year at the Monterey Jazz Festival to conduct the world premiere of Wayne Shorter’s new commissioned work and with the OtherMinds Festival in San Francisco to celebration of Lou Harrison’s 100th anniversary.
Debbie is the former Executive Director of the Carmel Bach Festival (CBF) where, from 2012-2016, she led the administrative and operations of the Festival. She established a strategic vision to grow CBF from a two-week summer festival in Carmel into a presenter of classical music concerts throughout the Monterey Peninsula over the course of a 12-month period. This vision was successfully achieved within four years. In addition, Debbie led the season planning process and oversaw board and staff development, artist relations, fundraising, marketing, event planning, finances, and general management.
Over the past 25 years, Debbie has held executive leadership positions as Managing Director at CENTERSTAGE (the State Theater of Maryland), California Shakespeare Theater, and Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey. While at the San Francisco Symphony, she served as Volunteer Council Director overseeing the activities of 1,700 volunteers. She began her career at the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.), University of San Francisco, and Center Theatre Group of the Music Center of Los Angeles where she was responsible for volunteer event management and institutional fundraising.
She currently sits on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), the national coalition of ensembles created by and for theater practitioners and she is the immediate past Board President of the Association of California Symphony Orchestras (ACSO), the statewide service organization providing programs and services for classical music producers and presenters in California and the west coast region. Her past board affiliations include Theatre Communications Group (the national consortium for professional nonprofit theaters in the United States), Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, California Arts Advocates, and George Soros’ Open Society Institute’s Leadership Council – based in Baltimore, MD.
Debbie’s transformative work at the Carmel Bach Festival is featured as one of thirteen case studies in “Creative Social Change: Leadership for a Healthy World”, a new volume (spring, 2016) in the International Leadership Association Series which assembles thought leaders to reimagine leadership in building a healthy, sustainable, and equitable world.
Debbie is originally from Syosset, NY and she attended the University of Southern California, majoring in Theater, under the artistic direction of John Houseman. Her passions include traveling, wine collecting, being in the audience to support the work of arts colleagues, immersing herself in the company of big and bold thinkers, and championing the growth of the next generation of artists and arts administrators.
As the creative director and stage director for Opera Parallèle since 2007, Brian Staufenbiel actively works across a wide range of artistic disciplines. His progressive approach to stagecraft garnered critical acclaim for several of the company’s productions, including Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, the American premiere of Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, Philip Glass’ Orphée, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, Adam Gorb’s Anya17, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck, Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse, and Terence Blanchard’s Champion (in collaboration with the SFJazz Center). This season, Staufenbiel will helm two new productions for Opera Parallèle, Jonathan Dove’s Flight and Glass’ Les Enfant Terribles.
Other upcoming engagements include a new production of Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera in Fall 2016, production design for ODC Dance company’s in Spring 2017, a world premiere production of Today it Rains with composer Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed for Spring 2019, as well as the world premiere production of a new work by composers Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch.
Recently, Staufenbiel directed the World Premiere of Angel Heart by Luna Pearl Woolf which was performed at Cal Performances in Berkeley, Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Festival del Sole in Sonoma. In addition to opera, Staufenbiel also brings his unique brand of experimental staging to theater, and has shared a residency at Banff with composer Luna Pearl Woolf to create an original theater piece – Mélange à Trois – premiered in Montréal.
Staufenbiel’s interdisciplinary approach to opera extends to his academic activity. He has directed the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz for over 17 years, where he has mounted a wide spectrum of award winning productions ranging from traditional operas to original works by contemporary composers. Staufenbiel holds a DMA from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in San Francisco.
Jacques Desjardins served as the General Manager of Opera Parallèle from 2004 until 2013 when he became the company’s first Artistic Administrator. He is also the Development Manager of the BluePrint Project, a festival of new music sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As a composer Desjardins was responsible for the re-orchestration of John Harbison’s Great Gatsby performed by OP and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and at the Aspen Music Festival in 2012. He has received commissions from the Sherbrooke Symphony Orchestra, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal, the Arthur-LeBlanc Quartet, the Québec Youth Orchestras Association, and the Musica Nova Ensemble. Desjardins is currently Assistant Conductor of the New Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he also is on the academic faculty and teaches Music Theory and Musicianship. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in Composition at the University of Michigan.
Educational Programs Director, Office Manager
Roma Olvera is a lyric soprano whose performance background and passion for education have led her to explore the possibilities of educational outreach. She has taught general music in elementary schools and maintained a private studio for voice and piano for 8 years. Olvera specializes in curriculum development that integrates music into every subject of standardized elementary and high-shool education. She has taught for the San Marcos, Carlsbad and Oceanside School Districts in southern California, as well as developed music programs for underserved communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx in New York City. She has worked with Midori and Friends on a pilot music outreach program and Hofstra University on a teacher development through music program. Currently, she directs the Educational Programs and provides administrative support to Opera Parallèle. Roma holds a Bachelor of Music from UC Santa Cruz in Vocal Performance and a Masters of Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Director of Development
Prior to his current career in fundraising, Leslie was an actor/singer/director/composer in the theatre, working in NY, LA, San Francisco, Germany, and many places in between. His subsequent work in development has encompassed a wide variety of sectors including scientific research, environment, animal welfare, conservation, education, human services, and a 61⁄2-year stint as Director of Development for the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra. These days he only sings for his daughter, Elizabeth, who listens patiently until she can’t take it anymore, and falls asleep.
Assistant to the Artistic Director
Julie Chin has served as the Assistant to Opera Parallèle’s Artistic Director since November 2014. She also enjoys working in opera production for many regional opera companies including Utah Opera, San Francisco Opera & Opera Center, The Atlanta Opera, West Edge Opera, Seattle Opera, and Opera Omaha. Prior to (and despite) her adventures in opera, she has worked and works at various start-ups and tech companies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition to her work with Opera Parallèle, Laura Anderson’s recent projects include productions with Rork Music, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and TEDx Berkeley. She is the stage manager for the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music and the Philip Glass Days and Nights Festival. Anderson was the production stage manager for the live performance portion of the Emmy-nominated Twin Cities Public Television documentary, Parables, featuring the opera of the same name by Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein. She holds a doctorate in opera studies from the University of Minnesota.
Scenic and Lighting Designer
While pursuing a degree in the fine arts in Southern California, Mr. Antaky turned his interests to the performing arts and in 1983 moved to San Francisco to study visual and theatrical design at San Francisco State University. For over 30 years, he has created and collaborated on both scenic and lighting designs for all of the performing arts including theater, opera, dance, and music. His work has been presented throughout the United States and in many countries around the world. For opera and music, Mr. Antaky has designed multiple productions for Opera Parallèle, Utah Opera and Symphony, Opera Pacific, Festival Opera, Oakland Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Opera San Jose, The Cabrillo Music Festival, and the San Francisco World Music Festival. His extensive work in the world of dance include many designs and installations for companies such as Liss Fain Dance, ODC/Dance, Oklahoma City Ballet, Li Chiao Ping, Smuin Ballet, Robert Moses Kin, Mark Foehringer Dance Project/SF, The National Ballet of Peru, La Tania Flamenco, Lily Cai Dance Company, SjDanceCo, Chitresh Das Dance Company and Flyaway Productions among many others. Mr. Antaky is an eight-time nominee and four-time recipient of the Isadora Duncan award for outstanding visual design.
Christine Crook began designing costumes for Opera Parallèle in 2011 with Orphèe. Other Opera Parallèle credits include Dead Man Walking, Mahagonny Songspiel / Les mamelles de Tirésias, Anya17, Four Saints In Three Acts, The Great Gatsby, Ainadamar, and Trouble in Tahiti. She also designs for theatre, dance, and opera all over the Bay Area and is a proud company member of Shotgun Players and Just Theater. Other recent credits include Antigonick, Our Town, and Twelfth Night with Shotgun, Alban Berg’s Lulu with West Edge Opera, and Lucia di Lammermoor with LA Opera. Christine has an MFA in costume design from UC San Diego and is the recipient of two SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards. She currently teaches costume design with USF, and Academy of Art University. Check out her work online on her website.
Dave Dunning comes to us from Legend Theatrical, a premier national staging, audio and lighting company, including playing an integral role in the lighting of the Bay Bridge. He specializes in scenic design and lighting design. His credits include several of Opera Parallèle’s productions such as scenic design for Young Caesar, Orphée, Les Mamelles de Tirésias/Mahagonny Songspiel, Anya 17, Dead Man Walking, and lighting for Trouble in Tahiti. He is a scenic and lighting designer for theater, opera, dance, concert, corporate, and architectural projects throughout much of the Bay Area.
David Murakami is a film director, writer, and theatrical multi-media designer working towards integrating emerging technologies with traditional performance on stage. Past designs with Opera Parallèle include Dead Man Walking, Trouble in Tahiti, and the American premieres of Anya 17 and Heart of Darkness. Other designs include the world premiere of Luis Valdez’ Valley of the Heart, Little Prince, and Peter Pan. Murakami received his Master’s degree from UCSC, and has been featured at the Maker Faire and several international film festivals. He is delighted to be continuing his trespass across media with Opera Parallèle.
Resident Pianist / Accompanist
Keisuke Nakagoshi, a native of Japan, earned a Bachelor of Music in composition and a Master of Music in chamber music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition with David Conte and piano with Paul Hersh. In 2005 he was selected to represent the Conservatory for the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project, a program featuring young musicians from major conservatories across the United States. Nakagoshi has performed to acclaim on prestigious concert stages across the United States, including the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Davies Hall in San Francisco. He has received training from some of the most celebrated musicians of our time – Emanuel Ax, Gilbert Kalish and Menahem Pressler. He recently made a solo debut with San Francisco Symphony on Ingvar Lidholm’s Poesis with Herbert Blomstedt conducting. Nakagoshi is currently Pianist-in-Residence at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well as a member of the Grammy nominated piano duet ZOFO.
Wig and Makeup Designer
Jeanna Parham began her career in San Jose where she designed for many South Bay theaters. Since moving to San Francisco, in addition to Opera Parallèle, she has been creating designs for the American Conservatory Theater, Opera San Jose, TheatreWorks, Broadway by the Bay, and the University of California, Santa Cruz Opera Theater. Ms. Parham is also the head of the Wig and Makeup Department for the San Francisco Opera.