The Team

Nicole Paiement, 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.

As 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; 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 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 Berstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ as well as  Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. In the 2018/19 season, Opera Parallèle made it’s debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival with Glass’ In the Penal Colony and Paiement conducted Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe and a return season of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. In 2020, Opera Parallèle will present a new version of Stewart Wallace’s Harvey Milk as part of the 90th Birthday celebrations for the opera’s namesake, with Paiement at the helm for this exciting production.

Additionally, 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). 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.

In 2016, Paiement was awarded the American Composer’s Forum “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music.

Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. This past year she has conducted at 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 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. Paiement also recently conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera Program, San Francisco.

Upcoming engagements include a debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and a return to the Dallas Opera for a double bill of Pulcinella & La Voix Humaine. Future seasons also include debuts at the Houston Grand Opera, Opéra de Montréal with Benjamin’s Written on Skin and Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, London.

Debbie Chinn, Executive Director

Debbie joined Opera Parallèle as Executive Director in February 2017. Prior to her arrival, she served as an arts advisor for the Ventura Music Festival where she provided board facilitation services to Music Camp International which delivers music training programs to children in Romania and Ukraine.

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 as demonstrated by an 18% growth in local audiences and a 15% growth in sustained foundation support. In addition, Debbie led the season planning process, curatorial direction of CBF’s Community Engagement year-round activities, 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 Theater Bay Area, the largest regional theater service organization in North America. She is also on the board of Community Music Center of San Francisco, a 96-year old organization that provides music classes and programs to students of all ages. Debbie most recently served on the board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), the national coalition of ensembles created by and for theater practitioners. She is an 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 other 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 recent 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.

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.

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 design, and theatre production informs his current work as producer for Opera Parallèle’s community programs. In addition, Daniel also works as a program manager for Intersection for the Arts, furthering their mission of supporting sustainable artistic practice in the Bay Area. Select theatre credits: As Costume Designer: In the Penal Colony (Days & Nights Festival – Opera Parallèle); Tannhauser (Regent Theatre – Melbourne Opera); Loving Repeating (Vic Theatre Co – Melbourne Green Room Award Nomination); Xanadu: The Musical (Australian Premiere).  As Set Designer: Look Back in Anger (Fourth Wall Theatre, New Wimbledon London). As Assistant Designer to Richard Roberts: Fiddler on the Roof (TML). As Associate Designer to Leslie Travers UK: La Boheme (Malmo Opera, Sweden); Peter Grimes on the Beach (Aldeburgh, UK). As Associate Designer to Tobias Hoheisel: Don Carlo (Bolshoi Opera, Moscow). As Assistant to Christopher Oram UK: Uncle Vanya (West End); Privates on Parade (Michael Grandage Company); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Broadway). As Assistant to Anna Tregloan: Spring Awakening: A New Musical (Sydney Theatre Company). Daniel has also worked as a lecturer and student mentor at the VCA/University of Melbourne, and currently serves on the board of LEVYdance.

Elaina Guyett, Development Coordinator

Elaina, a recent graduate of California State University East Bay, majored in Sociology and Ethnic studies, with an emphasis on gender and race. She is bringing this knowledge to Opera Parallèle in the hopes of helping to expand Opera’s inclusivity to younger, more diverse audiences while gaining experience within the world of development. She is also an advocate for the arts, participating and supporting Contra Costa Civic Theatre not only as their current House Manager, but as Props Organizer, and Facilities Aid. While Opera is quite new to Elaina, music has always played a very central role within her life, being surrounded by musical figures, such as her father, who played bass guitar for over 20 years with John Lee Hooker and many others. Through Opera Parallèle, Elaina’s two passions, music and community outreach, are now in sync allowing her to fulfill her aspiration of making her community, and others, a better place.

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.

Tony Shayne, Production Manager

Tony has formerly toured with and served in the roles of PM/TD for ODC, REDCAT, and Rosanna Gamson/Worldwide, and worked at some of California’s best colleges including UCLA, CalArts, Berkeley & UC Davis. Recently he helped Music Academy of the West with the West Coast premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s Cold Mountain. When not working on a new production Tony has the pleasure of being a Lecturer at Stanford University where he endeavors to promote new and passionate advocates for dance, opera, and performance art. Now in his third year there, he enjoys teaching Hands-on Technical Theater, Lighting Design, and Producing, as well as working with student designers and technicians.

Ian W. King, Assistant Production Manager

Ian is a semi-recent transplant to the Bay Area from Boston, MA. Selected credits include: Rapunzel Variations (Levy Dance), Song from the Uproar (Beth Morrison Projects), Sound From the Bench (Beth Morrison Projects), From the Sea to Somewhere Else (Flotsam Jetsome), The Body Politic (Juventas), Saturday Night/Sunday Morning (Lyric Stage), Hidden Faces of Courage (OWL), Reel to Reel, Dreambook (FPTC), El Gato, La Hija De Rappaccini, Der Vampyr (OperaHub), Chalk, Girls’ Sports and I.N.A.M.M.(Fresh Ink Theatre), Boxer Shorts (Brown Box Theatre), Turn of the Screw (Simple Machine), The Farnsworth Invention (Flat Earth Theatre), Three, C.O.T.E. (Boston Public Works) and The Polish Joke (Titantic Theatre Co.) and technical design and support for the Illumious Project at Fenway (’15). He is also a former co-artistic director with Fort Point Theatre Company.