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Opera Parallèle Presents U.S. Premiere of Tarik O'Regan's HEART OF DARKNESS, 5/1-3

Hard on the heels of the highly successful premiere of its acclaimed new production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking in February, Opera Parallèle will present the U.S. premiere of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness May 1-3 at Z Space in San Francisco. The opera will be staged in an innovative new production overseen by Opera Parallèle Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, with Artistic Director Nicole Paiement conducting. Performances are Friday, May 1, at 8 pm; Saturday, May 2, at 2 pm and 8 pm; and Sunday, May 3, at 2 pm; Z Space is located at 450 Florida Street in San Francisco. Tickets are priced $30-$85 and may be purchased at .

Digital technology and Innovative Stagecraft Transform Lobby, Audience and Performance Spaces Into Equatorial Rain Forest

Brian Staufenbiel and his creative team will use sets, costumes, installations, and digital technology created especially for the production to transform the lobby, performance, and audience areas of Z Space into an environment evocative of the equatorial rain forest of the Joseph Conrad novella on which with opera is based. The production was developed in a unique technical residency/research and development project in collaboration with Opera Parallèle, Z Space, and the artists during a week in January, 2015

Upon arrival to the theater, audience members will be greeted by an installation of visual artist Matt Kish'sartwork in large form, and free-standing sculptures made of approximately 60 cast replicas of elephant tusks. As the production begins, the sculptures will be dismantled by the cast and crew and carried into the performance space where they will be used throughout the production to create a boat, the opera's primary set piece, and to become part of the digitally projected setting. The art installation will thus usher the audience into the environment where the performance will take place.

Further stage magic will be conjured by the designers and technical crew with two sections of audience seating flanking the stage area perpendicular to the main body of seating. Audience members in these two side sections will become part of the set by wearing ponchos onto which digital imagery will be projected. The orchestra will also be part of the performance environment. As such, audience and orchestra will be transformed in to an undulating, "living" part of the rain forest. [NB: tickets in these sections are a special $30 price. Ticket buyers who do not wish to be seated in this area should make sure to select seats in the main section.]

The production team for this innovative production includes Nicole Paiement, Artistic Director and conductor; Brian Staufenbiel, Creative Director and stage director; Brian Staufenbiel, set and lobby installation designer; David Murakami, media designer; Frédéric Boulay, projection designer; Matthew Antaky, lighting designer; Christine Crook, costume designer; Jeanna Parham, wig and make-up designer; and Laura Anderson, production stage manager.

The cast will include Isaiah Bell (Marlow), Philip Skinner (Kurtz), Thomas Glenn (Harlequin), Jonathan Smucker (Manager/Secretary), Daniel Cilli (Thames Captain), Michael Belle (Accountant/Helmsman), Igor Vieira (Doctor/Boilermaker), Heidi Moss (Fiancée), and Shawnette Sulker (River Woman).

Initial research and development phases of Tarik O'Regan's work were supported by American Opera Projects and OperaGenesis, the opera development program of the ROH2. AOP received an NEA award for developing the opera in 2006-2011.

About Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness

Opera Parallèle is pleased to introduce Bay Area audiences to the work of highly regarded British composer Tarik O'Regan. Based on the 1899 novella by Joseph Conrad, O'Regan's one-act opera with libretto by Tom Phillips was premiered, to great acclaim, in a co-production by Opera East and ROH2 at the Royal Opera House/Linbury Theatre in London on November 1, 2011. Opera Parallèle's original production will mark the opera's U.S. premiere. Popularized by the film Apocalypse Now, Heart of Darkness recounts the memories of Charles Marlow, who captained an ivory trader's steamboat deep into the Congo. His encounters with other traders, opportunists, profiteers, and cannibals and is a profound, metaphoric exploration that blurs and questions the boundaries of what is civilized and what is barbaric.

About Tarik O'Regan

Tarik O'Regan, one of the leading British composers of his generation, grew up in London, where he was born in 1978, spending some of his childhood in Morocco and Algeria. Since 2007 he has divided his time between New York City and Cambridge, England.

His recent projects include Suite from Heart of Darkness for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (2013); two North African-influenced compositions: Raï, for the Dutch National Ballet, and Chaâbi, commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra (2012); a third solo album on the Harmonia Mundi label, Acallam na Senórach; the premiere of his first opera Heart of Darkness at the Royal Opera House, London (2011); and Latent Manifest with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (BBC Proms commission, 2010).

Currently O'Regan is working on a full-length ballet, commissioned by the Dutch National Ballet; and large-scale new works for the Hallé Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company, SOUK at the Royal Concertgebouw, American Opera Projects, and the University of Michigan. In 2014 he is the featured composer in the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Chamber Choir Ireland) and New Music for a New Age (Washington Chorus.

Recorded on over 25 albums and published exclusively by Novello & Co./Music Sales Classical, O'Regan's work has been recognized with: two GRAMMY® nominations (including Best Classical Album) for Threshold of Night; a Gramophone Award nomination for Scattered Rhymes; the NEA Artistic Excellence Award, a South Bank Sky Arts Award nomination for Heart of Darkness; and two British Composer Awards.

Public Outreach Activities

Opera Parallèle continues its mission of bringing opera to young audiences with Engage-in-Opera and Invitation-to-Opera. English Literature students from Balboa High School will participate in interactive workshops that integrate O'Regan's music, Kish's illustrations, and Conrad's novella into a multi-media experience that demonstrates how a work of art can be immersive, experiential, and most importantly, relevant. After participating in the workshops, students are invited to attend, free of charge, the final dress rehearsal at Z Space.

About Opera Parallèle

The award-winning Opera Parallèle develops and performs contemporary operas in a dynamic balance of known and new works, in new productions that shed light on their subject matter and engage audiences' senses and sensibilities. Opera Parallèle is the only organization in the Bay Area presenting fully cast and staged contemporary operas exclusively.

Opera Parallèle also commissions new orchestrations of contemporary grand operas, to give a sense of intimacy to its productions and to give a new life to works which might not otherwise be performed.

Artistic director Nicole Paiement founded Opera Parallèle (originally Ensemble Parallèle) to perform new music and to collaborate "in parallel" with various artists including dancers, choreographers, visual, and multimedia artists. These collaborations have enriched the Company's productions and appeal to a wide-ranging audience, from seasoned opera-goers and classical music enthusiasts to contemporary art and dance-goers.
In 2007 Opera Parallèle began to focus exclusively on contemporary opera, and in February of that year the organization presented the world premiere of Lou Harrison's opera Young Caesar. Most recently its productions have included the California premiere of Alban Berg's Wozzeck in a chamber orchestration by composer John Rea (2010); the Bay Area premiere of Philip Glass' operaOrphée (2011); and Virgil Thompson's Four Saints in Three Acts in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in conjunction with the international exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde. In February 2012, Opera Parallèle performed the world premiere of its commissioned reorchestration of John Harbison's opera The Great Gatsby. 2013/2014 was a year filled with new works, from Osvaldo Golijov's riveting opera Ainadamar,Opera Parallèle's Graphic Opera Project, Gesualdo - Prince of Madness, Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti, Adam Gorb's Anya17, and a double bill of the Weill/Brecht Mahagonny Songspiel with the Poulenc/Apollinaire Les mamelles de Tirésias. The company comes to this Heart of Darkness project fresh from a hugely successful production of Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which was presented in February, 2015 in San Francisco and in March, 2015 at Santa Monica's Broad Stage.

Since it was founded, Opera Parallèle has presented 157 performances including 31 world premieres, released 14 recordings, and commissioned 20 new works; and has performed in North America, Australia, and Asia.

Photo Courtesy of Opera Parallèle

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