Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel have once again announced innovative plans for the 2019–2020 season, which will be the tenth anniversary season of Opera Parallèle. This will include revivals of two relatively recent operas, a “star-studded” recital, and the annual benefit gala. Specifics, which will be given in the chronological order of the events, are as follows:
September 19, San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM): The season will begin with the recital, which is entitled Bill and Flicka: Generous Spirits. The names refer to tenor William Burden and mezzo Frederica von Stade, both are recognized as charismatic singing actors. They will be accompanied by pianist Keisuke Nakagoshi. In addition, there will be a guest appearance by soprano Christabel Nunoo.
This performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. The SFCM building is located at 50 Oak Street, between Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Street, a short walk from the Van Ness Muni Station. The performance will take place in the Concert Hall. The price for VIP tickets in the front rows of the center section will be $150. Premium tickets in the middle of the center section and the front of the side areas will be $90, those in the rear of the center section and the middle of the side areas will be $50, and remaining seats will be $35. Seats may be selected and purchased through a City Box event page, which includes a seating plan indicating where seats are available.
October 2, Green Room: The title of this year’s Benefit Gala will be Because of You, named after the title of the song written by Arthur Hammerstein (uncle of the better-known Oscar Hammerstein II) and Dudley Wilkinson. The title was selected to acknowledge a decade’s worth of gratitude for helping Opera Parallèle thrive. Cocktails will begin at 5:30 pm. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. Nakagoshi will again be on hand to accompany vocal performances by soprano Marnie Breckenridge, mezzo Catherine Cook, and baritone Bojan Knezevic.
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. A Web page has been set up to handle the purchase of tickets at all price levels. The Green Room is located on the second floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue, on the southwest corner of McAllister Street.
February 16 and 17, Hayes Street Grill: This will be a special event held in partnership with the Hayes Street Grill restaurant. Cook will return to perform the one-woman one-act opera “Bon Appétit!” Lee Hoiby composed the music for this opera, which draws upon two of the broadcasts of Julia Child’s television series of the same name. Those episodes provided instructions for making a classic French chocolate cake, Le Gateau au Chocolat “Eminence Brune.” Mark Shulgasser adapted those instructions to fit Hoiby’s music (and probably vice versa).
All tickets will be $200. This will include cocktails, dinner, and the chocolate cake desert. On February 16 cocktails will be served at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. On February 17 the times will be one hour later. The Hayes Street Grill is located in Hayes Valley at 320 Hayes Street, on the north side of the street between Franklin Street and Gough Street.
May 15–17, Blue Shield of California Theater: The one full-length opera production of the season will take place at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. It will be the three-act opera Harvey Milk, composed by Stewart Wallace working with a libretto by Michael Korie. The opera was commissioned jointly by New York City Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera, which gave the premiere performance in 1995. The San Francisco Opera performances took place in November of 1996.
The first of the acts addresses Milk (sung by Matthew Worth) coming to terms with his sexuality and his decision to move to San Francisco. The second act is set in the Castro, tracing the rise of his activism, which culminated in his becoming the first openly gay member of the Board of Supervisors. The final act takes place in City Hall, charting the events that led to the shooting by Dan White (David Walton) that killed both Milk and Mayor George Moscone (Matt Boehler). The staging will be by Staufenbiel, and Paiement will conduct. The scheduling of the opera was determined to honor Milk’s 90th birthday, which will be on May 22, 2020.
Tickets are not yet on sale, but prices will be between $120 and $35. Like the opening recital, tickets will be handled by City Box Office. The theater is located at 700 Howard Street, south of the corner of Third Street.