Opera Paralléle Premieres MY HEAD IS FULL OF COLORS as Part of National Opera Week Today

San Francisco, CA, September 30, 2014 - Continuing its trailblazing tradition of presenting new and less familiar works of music theatre, Opera Parallèle will give the world premiere of an opera based on author Catherine Friend's beloved children's book, My Head is Full of Colors, today, November 1, at 11 am in the Koret Auditorium of the San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street. Written by Santa Cruz composer Chris Pratorius with libretto by Opera Parallèle Artistic Director Nicole Paiement, the work is the first commission premiered by the Company and is being performed during National Opera Week (October 24-November 2). The production will feature 4th grade students from Creative Arts Charter Schoolperforming with soprano Carolyn Bacon and baritone Sergey Khalikulov. Laura Anderson is the stage director, costumes are designed by Elly Jessop; the singers and small instrumental ensemble will be conducted by OP Intern Conductor William Long.

Admission is free of charge and general admission. Opera Parallèle's past presentations of opera for families have been extremely popular, so audience members are encouraged to arrive early for this one-performance-only, first-come, first-served event. For information, visit www.operaparallele.org .

Each year as part of its burgeoning outreach programs, Opera Parallèle presents a work with young performers, expressly designed for families and children. "For our Hands-on-Opera, we treat our young participants as collaborators and develop works that are both accessible and sophisticated," says Paiement. "These productions are extensions of our vision to present new and less-known works as well as more familiar opera in new interpretations." Opera ParallèleEducational Programs Director Roma Olvera adds, "Catherine Friend has written a very special narrative about a young girl who discovers her own meaning by engaging in the world around her. This self-affirming discovery through artistic engagement is exactly what we strive to achieve with Hands-on-Opera. Every rehearsal is filled with wide-eyed curiosity and the confident and original perspectives of nine-year-old students."

Author Catherine Friend summarizes the story of My Head is Full of Colors: "Maria awakes one morning to find her normally spiky brown hair replaced by all the colors of the rainbow. Her head is full of colors, and on this day she draws and paints like never before. The following morning Maria awakes to find her head full of books. They tell her about faraway places, creepy spiders, and rockets that fly to the moon. And it isn't long before her head is full of animals and then people. But one day something unexpected happens: Maria awakes to find her head is full of-nothing. Or maybe there is something after all."

About Chris Pratorius

Christopher Pratorius is a California based composer whose pieces have been performed in New York, Boston, San José, Istanbul, Guatemala, New Haven, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Omaha, Tucson and the Santa Cruz area. His recent premieres include the chamber concerto Untogether, not Apart, commissioned and premiered by New Music Works, as well as a Halloween performance of Diary of a Black Widow by the same ensemble. Other notable projects include the Harp Concerto Claroscuro en Flor, commissioned by Anna Maria Mendieta, the American Harp Society and San José Chamber Orchestra, which premiered last fall under the baton of Barbara Day Turner; a fresh setting of Pablo Neruda's Poema XX, commissioned by Nicole Paiement for the BluePrint project; Contraponientes, a choral song-cycle based on poetry by Federico García Lorca commissioned by Ariose Singers and Being of One's Hour, commissioned by Robert Kelley for Santa Cruz Ballet Theater.

Previous projects include three scenes from his chamber opera Roxane de Bóveda, a modern day retelling of Cyrano, premiered by Goat Hall Cabaret Opera in San Francisco (2009), George Washington Crosses the Delaware, an operetta written for marionettes created by artist Niki Ulehla (2008) and Through a Crack in the Concrete, commissioned for the UCSC Orchestra (2008). Recordings include the virtuosic solo guitar sonata Ondas do Mar de Vigo, premiered by Mesut Özgen and available on his CD Troubadour and Mañana tan linda, recorded by Nova Trova on their CD Agua.

Pratorius, who is half Guatemalan and a native Spanish speaker, is founder and artistic director of Santiago Players, a group of volunteer musicians dedicated to taking classical music, workshops, private lessons, instruments and sheet music to young students of classical music in the Guatemalan Highlands.
He teaches theory and musicianship at CSU Monterey Bay and music history at UC Santa Cruz.

The Commission of My Head is Full of Colors

The commission and premiere of My Head is Full of Colors, under the direction of Opera Parallèle's Director of Educational Programs Roma Olvera, is a partnership with Creative Arts Charter Schoolin San Francisco. Olvera and Intern Conductor William Long will spend eight weeks working with a class of 4th-grade students at Creative Arts, teaching them the opera (for which the students will perform as the chorus, which has a prominent role), and preparing them for performance.

This premiere is presented as this year's Hands-on-Opera, part of Opera Parallèle's three-tiered educational outreach program. Last year, Hands-on-Opera produced Peter Maxwell Davies' The Spiders' Revenge, in which all parts were taken by 4th-grade students at San Francisco's Daniel Webster Elementary School, and which was performed at the California Academy of Sciences.

Hands-on-Opera is funded by the Kimball Foundation and by Aroha Philanthropies.

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' opera Orphée (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 embarked on the world premiere of the chamber orchestration of John Harbison's opera The Great Gatsby. 2013/2014 has been 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.

Since it was founded, Opera Parallèle has presented 134 performances including 30 world premieres, released 14 recordings, and commissioned 20 new works; and has performed in North America, Australia, and Asia.


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