Marnie Breckenridge

Opera Parallèle's Ainadamar Preview

Ainadamar-2013-opera-parallele* Notes *
A sneak preview of Opera Parallèle's next production, Ainadamar, was held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music last month. Conductor Nicole Paiement took us through several musical examples with pianist Keisuke Nakogoshi and half a dozen singers. Lisa Chavez (pictured left as Federico García Lorca, photograph by Steve Di Bartolomeo), Marnie Breckenridge (Margarita Xirgu), and Maya Kherani (Nuria) sang various selections and a trio of singers from the women's chorus also participated. Osvaldo Golijov's music is textured and percussive.

Director Brian Staufenbiel discussed the set design, which sounds like Opera Parallèle's most ambitious to date and involves a stage divided into two layers. The staging includes the flamenca La Tania and her troupe, and they danced for us, accompanied by Nakogoshi. I, for one, am quite disappointed that I cannot make it to any of the three performances. Opera Parallele's Ainadamar will be presented starting Friday, February 15 until Sunday, February 17 at the Novellus Theatre, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Opera Parallèle's 2012-2013 Season

Ainadamar-2013Ensemble Parallèle has formally changed its name to Opera Parallèle. The opera company presents the Bay Area premiere of Osvaldo Golijov's Ainadamar on February 15, 16 and 17, 2013 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Marnie Breckenridge will sing Margarita Xirgu and Lisa Chavez stars as Federico García Lorca (both pictured left, photograph by Steve DiBartolomeo). On April 26, 27 and 28, Opera Parallèle presents a re-orchestration of Leonard Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti in a double bill with Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge at ZSpace. The season closes on June 7, 2013 at San Francisco Conservatory of Music, when the company presents a public workshop reading of the newly commissioned Dante De Silva's Gesualdo, Prince of Madness.

Marnie Breckenridge Interview

Breckenridge This weekend soprano Marnie Breckenridge (pictured left) will be singing the role of the Princess in Ensemble Parallèle's production of Orphée by Philip Glass. She will be singing in The Rape of Lucretia with Castleton Opera, which will be presented by Cal Performances in Berkeley next month. Last week, the Opera Tattler met with her in a practice room of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music between rehearsals.

You attended San Francisco Conservatory of Music, so welcome back! Are you from California?
Yes, though the Conservatory was on Ortega Street then. I grew up in Claremont, California, lived in San Francisco and Napa, but now I live in New York.

I see you have sung in English quite a bit, such as in Love and Other Demons, Candide, and The Rape of Lucretia. Orphée of course is in French, what are the challenges of not singing in your native language?
French was the first foreign language I studied, before I knew I was going to be an opera singer. It does feel different in the body than English.

How did you get the role of the Princess?
I was already singing with Nicole Paiement for the BluePrint Series, so Brian Staufenbiel asked me to audition for the Glass. I sang Juliette's Waltz, and I got the part. I've never sung Glass before but I'm absolutely loving the challenge.

I've seen some of the previews, and the production looks very exciting. Your character looks like a ringmaster in the videos that have been shown. Where have you been rehearsing?
We've been here at the conservatory, and rehearsing at a circus school too. We don't get into Herbst until the Wednesday before the opening. The performers in this production are incredible. The Roue Cyr artist, aerialist, and juggler are as much a part of this opera as the singers.

What was your first opera?
The first opera I sang in was Così fan tutte, and I was Despina.

Favorite opera?
I love all of Janáček's operas. Wozzeck and Der Rosenkavalier are also favorites.

Dream role?
Norma! I will probably never sing it, but I do sing it in the shower.

Who do you look up to?
The list is very long, and also, in a way, very short. Renée Fleming is amazingly consistent, and a nice person too. I admire Anna Netrebko, Angela Gheorghiu, Barbara Bonney, Kathleen Battle, but my all-time favorite is Leontyne Price.

How do you feel about live simulcasts?
As far as exposing opera to more people, it is really great. However, opera is a live art form, and you feel all the vibrations physically, so simulcasts do not recreate a full experience of it.

Do you feel pressure to be able to move and act well?
I have always been physically active, I danced ballet, jazz, and did gymnastics before deciding to become an opera singer. I've also acted, I was in ACT's summer training program. So I am coming to this from the other side, I've had to figure out how to move less! So I haven't felt that pressure.

Are there musicians in your family?
My mother plays piano, she also sang, and played organ at church.

Do you play an instrument?
I play piano. I played flute in band, but I didn't like the freezy brain feeling it give you.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I am interested improv, my husband is in a troupe. I go to art museums. I especially enjoy Monet, Manet, and Delacroix, but I also love trying to figure out more abstract paintings, like those of Jackson Pollock.