Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel have assembled three innovative productions for the 2017–2018 season of Opera Parallèle. As in previous seasons, the emphasis will be on the immediate present (represented by a world premiere created on commission) and the relatively recent past. (The oldest composition to be presented was written in 1951.) Each production will be presented in a different venue and will be given at least three performances. Specifics are as follows:
December, Cowell Theater: The season will begin with Rachel Portman’s two-act opera The Little Prince, based on the book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It was commissioned for the Houston Grand Opera, which gave the world premier in May of 2003. Five years later the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances joined forces to present the Houston production at Zellerbach Hall, giving the opera its Bay Area premiere. Opera Parallèle will present a new staging by Staufenbiel; and the production will involve collaboration with the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Paiement will be the conductor. The opera will be given three performances at 7 p.m. on Friday, December 1, and Saturday, December 2, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday December 3. Cowell Theater is located at the Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture.
January, Buriel Clay Theater: This will be the annual Hands on Opera production based on an eight-week residency with elementary school students. One again the music will be a score composed specifically for this project. The 2018 composer will be Marcus Shelby. He has collaborated with Roma Olvera on a one-act opera about Harriet Tubman entitled “Harriet’s Spirit.” Olvera worked with Paiement and Staufenbiel in preparing the libretto. As was the case with last year’s Hands on Opera production, the conductor will be Luçik Aprahämian. Once again there will be three performances at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 18, and at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, January 20. The Buriel Clay Theater will located in the African American Art & Culture Complex at 762 Fulton Street, between Buchanan Street and Webster Street.
February, SFJAZZ: The final production has the title One Story, Two Operas. The two operas examine the nature of love and relationships before and after marriage, respectively. The “before” opera is “At the Statue of Venus,” recently given a new orchestration by composer Jake Heggie, who worked with a libretto by Terrence McNally. The “after” opera is “Trouble in Tahiti,” an examination of the materialist culture of the suburbs that emerged following the Second World War. Composer Leonard Bernstein prepared his own libretto for the opera. Staging will be by Staufenbiel, and Paiement will conduct. This production will be given six performances, as well as a preview performance for which tickets will be sold. The preview will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 14. The other performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 15, Friday, February 16, Saturday, February 17, and Sunday, February 18, along with 3 p.m. matinee performances on Friday and Saturday. This has been arranged in collaboration with SFJAZZ, which will provide the venue at the SFJAZZ Center at 201 Franklin Street, on the northwest corner of Fell Street.
Tickets will be sold separately for each of these three productions, so there will be no subscription option. Prices will vary according to venue and will be forthcoming. This will also be the case with the Benefit Gala, Make Our Garden Grow, which will be held in the Green Room of the Veterans Building on Wednesday, October 11, beginning at 5:30 p.m.