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Press Releases

Opera Parallèle Presents Bay Area Premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Riveting Ainadamar February 15, 16 and 17 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

January 8, 2013 | By Karen Ames Communications

SAN FRANCISCO, January 8, 2013 – The acclaimed San Francisco opera company, Opera Parallèle, presents the Bay Area premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar February 15, 16 and 17 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Opera Parallèle’s community engagement activities include the tradition of a Sneak Preview and an Open Rehearsal offered to the public free of charge in addition to a free Student Preview Performance open to invited high school and college students in the Bay Area.

Osvaldo Golijov’s riveting opera, Ainadamar, is inspired by the confrontation between poet Federico García Lorca and the Fascist regime during the Spanish Civil War. Award-winning flamenco choreographer and dancer La Tania collaborates on Ainadamar which artfully combines singing, visual arts and flamenco. This poignant story, with a libretto by award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang, is told in flashback through the eyes of Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu, Lorca’s muse and most fervent advocate. Writing in New York magazine, the respected critic Peter G. Davis called Ainadamar a “quiet spellbinder, an astonishing demonstration of how an opera can sound completely contemporary yet still convey its message in very potent lyrical song.”

Ainadamar's cast is dominated by female voices. Acclaimed soprano Marnie Breckenridge, La Princesse in Opera Parallèle’s spring 2011 production of Philip Glass’ Orphée, heads the cast as Margarita Xirgu. Mezzo-soprano Lisa Chavez, who recently portrayed Maria in Frank Loesser’s widely successful The Most Happy Fella in New York City, is featured as the poet and playwright Federico. Soprano Maya Kherani, St. Settlement in Opera Parallèle’s summer 2011 production of Four Saints in Three Acts, portrays Nuria and members of the San Francisco Girls Chorus join singers from the SFCM New Music Ensemble to become the “chorus of girls,” or niñas. Rounding out the cast are bass John Bischoff, Compère in Opera Parallèle’s Four Saints in Three Acts, as Tripaldi; internationally acclaimed gypsy flamenco singer Jesus Montoya as Ruiz Alonso; Andres Ramirez as the bullfighter; and Ryan Bradford as the teacher.

Stage director Brian Staufenbiel’s innovative production concept for Ainadamar utilizes dramatically-integrated video mapping technology. In one scene, a video image of the lead soprano is projected onto a life size statue virtually bringing the statue to life through this layering technique. The set, a floating stage of perforated steel, evokes the parallel levels of heaven and earth and allow the team to explore new dimensions of lighting through projections. Staufenbiel will again be joined by a gifted artistic team including scenic and lighting designer Matthew Antaky, video artist Austin Forbord, costume designer Christine Crook, choreographer La Tania, wig and make-up artist Jeanna Parham and props artisan Valerie Niles.

Opera Parallèle continues the Opera on Display program where the public is invited to look behind the scenes at events that serve as introductions to works currently in progress. A Sneak Preview of Ainadamar – featuring an informal talk by Nicole Paiement and Brian Staufenbiel, live musical excerpts by cast members including Marnie Breckenridge, Lisa Chavez, Maya Kherani and John Bischoff, an introduction to flamenco dance with La Tania and a question and answer session with the audience – takes place 6 p.m. January 30 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. A reception with the artists immediately follows. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. February 8 at Kanbar Performing Arts Center,Opera Parallèle presents its popular Open Rehearsal. Viewers are invited to watch the director, conductor and singers work together in an actual staging rehearsal in preparation for performances the following week. At the conclusion of the rehearsal, Nicole Paiement and Brian Staufenbiel will lead the cast and audience members in a lively question and answer session. The Sneak Preview and Open Rehearsal are free and open to the public. Both preview events are offered in intimate locations. Pre-reserved seating is available for donors; the general public can attend on a first-come first-served basis.

One of Opera Parallèle’s primary ambitions is to attract new and younger audiences for opera through intimate performances of contemporary masterworks given in settings appropriate to the music and staging. As part of the company’s pilot program, Engage in Opera, soprano Maya Kherani, who also serves as an intern with Opera Parallèle, will visit both Lowell High School and San Francisco School of the Arts to present interactive experiences based on Golijov’s Ainadamar. As in the past, Opera Parallèle will present a Student Preview Performance on February 14 free of charge to an invited group of music, opera, drama, performing art and production students from Bay Area educational institutions. A wide range of young people attended similar events for the company’s productions of The Great Gatsby, Orphée, Wozzeck and Young Caesar including students from ACT, SFCM, San Jose State, University of California (Santa Cruz), San Francisco State, Mills College and SOTA. Interested educators can apply for an invitation to attend by emailing Opera Parallèle’s administrative assistant, Frank Weisberg, at frank@operaparallele.org.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience Opera Parallèle’s production of Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar on February 15, 16 and 17, 2013 at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts’ Lam Research Theater. Tickets priced from $35 to $85 are on sale now. They can be purchased in person at the YBCA’s box office located inside the Galleries and Forum Building, 701 Mission Street at Third, over the phone at (415) 978-ARTS (2787) or online at ybca.org.

Cast List and Biographies of the Artists:

Full biographies of the artists and production team can be found on Opera Parallèle’s website at operaparallele.org.

About Opera Parallèle:

Opera Parallèle is a professional opera company-in-residence at San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the only organization in the Bay Area that presents contemporary opera exclusively. Most recently, Opera Parallèle presented the award-winning world premiere of Jacques Desjardins’ re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby. In collaboration with SFMOMA, the company presented the critically acclaimed production of the rarely performed Four Saints in Three Acts by composer Virgil Thompson and librettist Gertrude Stein and the world premiere of Luciano Chessa’s A Heavenly Act. In spring 2011 the group produced the Bay Area premiere of Philip Glass’ Orphée and in 2010, the chamber version of Alban Berg’s 20th century masterpiece Wozzeck. In February 2007, Opera Parallèle presented the world premiere of Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar in conjunction with what would have been the late composer’s 90th birthday. In prior years, then under the name Ensemble Parallèle with its mission more broadly focused on contemporary music, the company presented 125 performances including 28 world premieres, released 12 recordings and commissioned 19 new works.

As a non-profit 501(c)(3) arts institution, Opera Parallèle must raise support and funds throughout the year to be able to present contemporary opera to a wide audience at affordable prices. This year, for the second time, Opera Parallèle is among the rank of noteworthy arts organizations to receive funding from San Francisco’s Grants for the Arts. Other foundational support comes from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and Opera America Fund, along with the Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Anne and Gordon Getty Foundation, Bill Graham Memorial Foundation and the Fleishhacker Foundation. Additional information is available at operaparallele.org.

Calendar Editors, Please Note:

What: Sneak Preview of Ainadamar

As part of the company’s Opera on Display Program, the Sneak Preview features Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Concept Designer Brian Staufenbiel in an informal lecture, live musical excerpts from cast members Marnie Breckenridge, Lisa Chavez, Maya Kherani and John Bischoff, an introduction to flamenco dance with choreographer La Tania as well as a question and answer session with the audience.

Where: Sol Joseph Recital Hall, SFCM

When: 6 p.m. January 30

Tickets: Free and open to the public

Note: This event is offered in an intimate location. Pre-reserved seating is available for donors; the general public can attend on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

What: Open Rehearsal of Ainadamar

Viewers are invited to watch the director, conductor and singers work together in an actual staging rehearsal in preparation for performances the following week. At the conclusion of the rehearsal, Nicole Paiement and Brian Staufenbiel will lead the cast and audience members in a lively question and answer session.

Where: Kanbar Performing Arts Center

When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. February 8

Tickets: Free and open to the public

Note: This event is offered in an intimate location. Pre-reserved seating is available for donors; the general public can attend on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6 p.m.

What: Student Preview Performance of Ainadamar

As part of the company’s Opera on Display Program, the company will present Ainadamar to an invited group of music, opera, drama, performing art and production students from Bay Area educational institutions.

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts’ Lam Research Theater When: February 14

Tickets: Interested educators can apply for an invitation to attend by emailing Opera Parallèle’s administrative assistant, Frank Weisberg, at frank@operaparallele.org

What: Opera Parallèle Presents Ainadamar

Music by Osvaldo Golijov, libretto by David Henry Hwang. Inspired by the confrontation between poet Federico García Lorca and the Fascist regime during the Spanish Civil War, the opera artfully combines singing, visual arts and flamenco.

Where: Yerba Buena Center for the Performing Arts’ Lam Research Theater

When: 8 p.m. February 15 and 16 and 2 p.m. February 17

Tickets: $35 to $85 with a 10 percent discount for YBCA members and students

The Cast:

Margarita Xirgu, Marnie Breckenridge

Federico García Lorca, Lisa Chavez

Nuria, Maya Kherani

Tripaldi, John Bischoff

Ruiz Alonso, Jesus Montoya

Bullfighter, Andres Ramirez

Teacher, Ryan Bradford

Niñas, San Francisco Girls Chorus and

Women’s Chorus of the SFCM New Music Ensemble

Flamenco dancers, led by La Tania

Artistic and Production Team

Conductor, Nicole Paiement

Stage Director/Concept Designer, Brian Staufenbiel

Scenic and Lighting Designer, Matthew Antaky

Video Artist, Austin Forbord

Choreographer, La Tania

Costumer, Christine Crook

Wig and Make-up Artist, Jeanna Parham

Props Artisan, Valerie Niles

Media Contact:

Karen Ames Communications

Kristin Schellinger: kristin@karenames.com

Karen Ames: karen@karenames.com

(415) 641-7474



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