Sunday, August 26, 2018

Opera Parallèle in San Francisco: 2018–2019

Opera Paralléle Production Reel (from YouTube)

Once again Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel have assembled three innovative productions for the 2018–2019 San Francisco season of Opera Parallèle. These will include a world premiere, a revival of a one-act opera originally created for the Hands on Opera project, and the return of last season’s holiday offering. Each production will be presented in a different venue and will be given at least three performances. Specifics are as follows:

December, Marines’ Memorial Theater: The holiday offering will be the return of Rachel Portman’s two-act opera The Little Prince, based on the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with a libretto by Nicholas Wright. Staging will again be by Staufenbiel, and the San Francisco Girls Chorus will again join forces with the Opera Parallèle performers. Paiement will again conduct. The opera will be given three performances at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 7, and Saturday, December 8, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday December 9. The Marines’ Memorial Theatre, located at 609 Sutter Street, just off Union Square. (Note that the venue does not have an elevator to the balcony level and that the orchestra level is on the second floor of the Marines’ Memorial building.)

March, Z Space: The world premiere production will present the 80-minute chamber opera “Today It Rains,” composed by Laura Kaminsky working with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. The opera is a reflection on Georgia O’Keeffe’s first encounter with Santa Fe in New Mexico and the impact that the southwest desert would have on her subsequent work. Kaminsky scored the work for eleven instruments and eight singers, two of whom depict the characters of O’Keefe (mezzo Peabody Southwell) and her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (baritone Daniel Belcher). Reed has also designed a visual context of projections in which the narrative of the libretto unfolds. Again staging will be by Staufenbiel, and Paiement will conduct. There will be four performances, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28, Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 31. Z Space is located in NEMIZ (the NorthEast Mission Industrial Zone) at 450 Florida Street, between 17th Street and Mariposa Street.

May, Community Music Center (CMC): The season will conclude with a “main stage” production of the one-act opera “Xochitl and the Flowers,” composed by Christopher Pratorius Gomez and based on a children’s book of the same name by Jorge Argueta. Roma Olvera transformed Argueta’s text into the opera’s libretto. The original production was developed over the course of an eight-week residency with third graders in the Alvarado Elementary School Spanish Immersion Program, whose classes are bilingual (English and Spanish). Olvera’s libretto, which is set in the Mission District, was correspondingly bilingual, with transitions between the two languages that are often too smooth to detect. Staging will be by Beth Wilmurt, and Martha Salazar will conduct. There will be three performances, on Saturday, May 18, at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and on Sunday, May 19, at 2 p.m. CMC is located in the Mission at 544 Capp Street, between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue and between 20th Street and 21st Street.

Tickets will be sold separately for the first two of these three productions, so there will be no subscription option. Prices will vary according to venue and will be forthcoming. For “Xochitl and the Flowers,” those attending are requested to pay what they can at the entrance. In addition, the Benefit Gala, Creative Rebels,  will be held in the Green Room of the Veterans Building on Wednesday, October 10, beginning at 6 p.m. This will be an evening of wine, dinner, and a 22-minute “montage opera” that will celebrate such operatic heroes as Harvey Milk, Georgia O’Keeffe, Steve Jobs, Julia Child, and Sister Helen Prejean, sung by mezzo Eve Gigliotti, baritone Robert Orth, and bass Kenneth Kellogg, accompanied by pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi. The evening will culminate in a special performance by guest of honor Philip Glass. Tickets are priced from $300 to $500, with tables and sponsorships available for $5,000 to $15,000; all proceeds benefit Opera Parallèle’s productions, and community engagement programs. As of this writing, the Opera Parallèle Web site has not yet been set up to handle tickets; so those wishing to attend should call 415-626-6279. The Veterans Building is located at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street.

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