Only in the Bay Area or New York would you find several well-established companies vying for the title of most adventurous. It’s hard to keep track of them all. But General & Artistic Director Nicole Paiement and Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel of Opera Parallèle keep finding ways to make contemporary equal fun. The just-announced 2022–2023 season continues in that mode, with productions conceived much less as prestige pieces and more as general entertainment.
As usual there are two productions, and the first is a restaging of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s Everest, conceived with Staufenbiel as the world’s first opera-as-filmed-graphic-novel. Despite a little weirdness resulting from the mixture of motion capture of the singers’ faces and the flat, geometric visual style of graphic novels, that take on the opera, unveiled last year, turned out to be highly effective, due in part to strong music and lyrics.
Now Staufenbiel intends to turn the filmic version into a more theatrical, 360-degree immersive experience, with surround sound. The 70-minute animated movie will be shown at Z Space, Feb. 3–12, 2023, with the audience in the middle of it. The prerecorded cast, of course, remains the same, with Sasha Cooke, Nathan Granner, Kevin Burdette, and Hadleigh Adams in starring roles, and Talbot’s melodious score is conducted by Paiement.
The brand-new production on the schedule is Paul Moravec and Mark Campbell’s The Shining, taken, of course, from Steven King’s classic novel. This work originated at Minnesota Opera in 2016, was a massive critical and popular success, and has had a run of revivals at companies around the U.S., including Opera Colorado earlier this year. OP’s new production will be shared with Portland Opera and Hawaii Opera Theatre and features a chamber orchestration created by Moravec. The West Coast premiere is set for June 2–4 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
As part of its Hands-on-Opera program for youth and families, the company is workshopping a new opera this month, Kenji Oh and Kelley Rourke’s The Emissary. This new commission from Opera Parallèle is a “dystopian comedy that addresses the environmental angst of our time, which is placing ever-increasing psychological stress on our younger generation.” As with all these children’s pieces, a youth chorus combines with professional singers in the production, which will premiere in the 2023–2024 season.