Last October Ensemble Parallèle, the professional “cousin” of Nicole Paiement’s New Music Ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, changed its named to Opera Parallèle. Since pretty much every Ensemble Parallèle production had been operatic in nature, this was more a matter of clarifying the mission, rather than changing it. Final plans are now under way for the first full-length public production under the Opera Parallèle name.
This will be Ainadamar by the Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov. The title is an Arabic word that means “fountain of tears;” but the libretto will be in English, having been written by the American playwright David Henry Hwang. The plot is inspired by the confrontation between poet Federico García Lorca and Francisco Franco’s Fascists during the Spanish Civil War. The story is told in flashback by the Catalan actress Margarita Xirgu, Lorca’s muse and fervent advocate. Staging will be by Ensemble Parallèle “regular,” Brian Staufenbiel, who will collaborate with flamenco choreographer and dancer La Tania. Paiement will maintain her duties as conductor. The leading singers will be Marnie Breckenridge as Xirgu and Lisa Chavez as Lorca.
There will be three performances in the Lam Research Theater of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), two at 8 p.m. on Friday, February 15, and Saturday, February 16, and a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Sunday, February 17. Tickets are priced from $35 to $85 and are now on sale through YBCA. They can be purchased in person at the box office located inside the YBCA Galleries and Forum Building at 701 Mission Street, on the southwest corner of Third Street, over the phone at 415-978-2787 (ARTS), or online through the event page for this production on the YBCA Web site. YBCA members and students are eligible for a 10% discount on ticket purchases.
In addition, there will be three free preview events on the following dates:
- Wednesday, January 30, 6 p.m., Sol Joseph Recital Hall of the Conservatory (50 Oak Street): This will be a Sneak Preview presented as part of the Opera Parallèle Opera on Display Program. Paiement and Staufenbiel will collaborate to present an informal lecture about Ainadamar. That lecture will be illustrated by live musical examples performed by Breckenridge and Chavez, along with Maya Kherani (Nuria) and John Bischoff (Tripaldi). In addition La Tania will provide an introduction to flamenco dance; and the conclusion will involve audience participation in a question-and-answer session. Donors will be entitled to reserved seating. Seating for the general public will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m.
- Friday, February 8, 6:30 p.m., Kanbar Performing Arts Center (44 Page Street): This will be an open staging rehearsal for Ainadamar. This will again be followed by a question-and-answer session with the audience in which cast members will participate. The session will be moderated by Paiement and Staufenbiel. Again, donors will be entitled to reserved seating, while seating for the general public will be first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
- Thursday, February 14, Lam Research Theater: Opera Parallèle will present a preview performance of Ainadamar in its entirety to an invited group of music, opera, drama, performing arts, and production students from Bay Area educational institutions. While there is no charge, admission is only by invitation. Frank Weisberg, Administrative Assistant at Opera Parallèle, will be handling invitations. He may be reached by electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.