February 2007
Composer: Lou Harrison
Librettist: Robert Gordon
Composer Chamber Orchestration: John Rea
Conductor: Nicole Paiement
Director: Brian Staufenbiel

Young Caesar 2007


Opera Parallèle presented the world premiere of the Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar – a lavish transethnic work exploring the love affair between Julius Caesar and Nicomedes, King of Bithynea. Inspired by Chinese opera, Harrison created a new operatic style where the East meets West. Young Caesar grapples with many contemporary issues that were at the heart of Harrison’s exploration – the Pacific Rim and its exotic colors, new theater, and homosexuality.

The opera was originally conceived in 1971 as a puppet opera. Beautifully designed by Bill Jones, the more than twenty puppets were mostly rod-puppets over three feet tall, capable of very detailed action. A brilliant panoramic backdrop was provided by two seemingly endless rolls of moving painted scenery (scroll method). The scrolls, painted in full colors by Harrison, gave the possibility of rich and varied stage design without too much cost. The libretto, was written by San Francisco playwright Robert Gordon.

“Spangly percussion sounds and Asian scales bejewel the score. . .And the performance by conductor Nicole Paiement and the Ensemble Parallèle (currently Opera Parallèle) brought out the music‘s seductive charms.”
—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle


Eleazar Rodriguez: Caesar
Eugene Brancoveanu: Nicomedes
John Duykers: The Narrator
Wendy Hillhouse: Aunt Julia
Joseph Myers: Zilo
Jonathan Smucker: Dionysus


Artistic Director/Conductor: Nicole Paiement,
Stage Director: Brian Staufenbiel
Costumer: Richard Battle
Lighting Designer: David Cuthbert
Choreographer: Larry Pech
Set Designer: Dave Dunning
Wig and Make-Up Artist: Jeanna Hurd Parham