Nicole Paiement, General and Artistic Director, and 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.
Founder, General and Artistic Director of San Francisco’s 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, the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center; 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; American Premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles; and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. In 2017/18 Paiement conducted a new double bill of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ, as well as Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Opera Parallèle made its debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival in the 2018/19 season with Glass’ In the Penal Colony; that season also featured Paiement conducting the world premiere performances of Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the return of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince.
Paiement has served as 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), where she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award in 2014. She received the Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship in 2015 in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching.
Paiement was awarded American Composer’s Forum’s “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music in 2016. In addition to being a leader in the world of contemporary opera, Ms. Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.
Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. Most recently, she made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, as well as performances with the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival (2016 – 2018) and a debut at Seattle Opera with Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Other prior engagements include Talbot’s Everest with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera and Washington National Opera for the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife. In 2019 Paiement also conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera Program, San Francisco.
Mo. Paiement made her debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and at L’Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in January 2020. Mo. Paiement’s 20/21 season includes her debut at Houston Grand Opera for Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves.
Ruth Nott, Interim Chief of Operations
Ruth Nott built a multi-decade career of success by mastering the art of innovation and excellence, focusing on opportunities to increase awareness and access. From 2008 through 2019, Ruth served as the Director of Education for the San Francisco Opera. She was recruited to create the opera’s first department committed to community-building and arts education. Ruth was at the helm of a team that innovated multiple programs serving more than 70,000 people annually. Among these initiatives is Arts Resources in Action (ARIA), which was recognized with a Yale Distinguished Music Education Partnership Award for its focus on collaboration, professional development, and arts integration. She held previous positions at the Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York City Opera, IMG Artists, Aspen Music Festival and School, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. Ruth inspires organizations to stretch beyond the boundaries of convention and tradition. Throughout 2019-2020, Ruth brought those strengths to consulting positions with Santa Fe Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Music at Kohl Mansion’s Violins of Hope project, and Kyoo, an online ordering system and partner of point of sale system Square.
Brian Staufenbiel, Creative Director
Brian Staufenbiel is the creative director and stage 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 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, O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness, Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, Glass’ Orphée and Les Enfant Terribles, Golijov’s Ainadamar, Gorb’s Anya 17, Berg’s Wozzeck, Davies’ The Lighthouse, Blanchard’s Champion, and Dove’s Flight. Last season he directed new productions of Glass’ In the Penal Colony and was director and dramaturge for the world premiere of Today it Rains by Laura Kaminsky and librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed.
Upcoming engagements include a new production of Strauss’ Elektra for Minnesota Opera, Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk with Opera Parallèle, Miguel Zenon’s Golden City Suite (an immersive design project) with the SF Jazz Center and the creation of a new work for Fort Worth Opera.
Mr. Staufenbiel recently created a new production of Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera, which was reprised at Arizona Opera and at L’Opéra de Montréal. He also recently created a new production of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Canterville Ghost for the Center of Contemporary Opera in NY and LA Opera. He directed and was dramaturge for the world premiere production of Sophia’s Forest by composer Lembit Beecher and librettist Hannah Moscovitch performed in Philadelphia in Fall 2017.
Staufenbiel directed the World Premiere of Angel Heart by Luna Pearl Woolf which was performed at Cal Performances in Berkeley, Carnegie Hall, 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 enjoys working as a dramaturge for dance companies and he has curated and created several art installations to accompany and enhance his productions with audience immersive experiences.
Staufenbiel’s interdisciplinary approach to opera extends to his academic activity. He recently left his position after seventeen years as the director of the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he has mounted a wide spectrum of award winning productions ranging from traditional operas to original works by contemporary composers. Staufenbiel holds degrees in Philosophy and Music including a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in San Francisco.
Jacques Desjardins, Artistic Administrator
Jacques Desjardins served as the General Manager of Opera Parallèle from 2004 until 2013 when he became the company’s first Artistic Administrator. As a composer, Desjardins was responsible for the re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby performed by OP at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and at the Aspen Music Festival in 2012. He has received commissions from BluePrint, 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 on faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he teaches Conducting, Music Theory, and Musicianship. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Composition at the University of Michigan.
Lori Beth Milburn, Marketing Manager
Lori comes to Opera Parallèle with over thirty years of marketing and communications experience. A Fine Art and Communications graduate from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, Lori is a talented and accomplished visual artist with extensive professional experience in graphic design and print production. Before joining Opera Parallèle she served as Communications & Marketing Director with PARCA, a Bay Area non-profit dedicated to enriching the lives people with developmental disabilities. Her desire to employ her talents toward nonprofit work in the Arts and her commitment to the support of socially relevant causes is what brought her to Opera Parallèle.
Daniel Harvey, Artistic Assistant: Community Programs
Daniel Harvey is a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, Australia and moved to San Francisco in 2017. Daniel’s background in set and costume
Lisa Yu, Bookkeeper
Lisa joins Opera Parallèle with over 15 years of finance and business management experience. She has a passion for assisting not-for-profits achieve their mission. Prior to joining Opera Parallèle, Lisa worked with the Merola Opera program, community organizations, and foundations. She earned a Masters in Accounting from Golden Gate University. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and working with the Sierra Club. Her dream is to visit as many opera houses as possible.
Michael Stephens, Grants Manager
Michael Stephens comes to Opera Parallèle with more than 30 years of diverse fundraising for performing arts, most especially as a grant writer. An anthropology graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Stephens’ first career was as a museum anthropologist and curator in Berkeley and Taos, New Mexico. In 1984 he shifted to the performing arts as grants manager at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Subsequently, he has held positions as grants manager, associate director of development or director of development at San Diego Opera, California Shakespeare Theater, Harmony Foundation International, and Stagebridge Senior Theatre Company. Stephens has served on a variety of Boards and professional committees, including the Southwestern Association on Indian Affairs (SWAIA), the New Mexico Association of Museums (Vice President), the Curator’s Committee of the American Association of Museums, Sinfonia San Francisco, the Mexican Cultural Institute of San Diego, Fern Street Circus, and California Arts Advocates.