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Harriets Spirit
Buriel Clay Theatre at the Africa American Art & Culture Complex
San Francisco, CA
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Harriets Spirit
Each year, Opera Parallèle partners with school students to create and perform an original opera during an intensive eight-week residency. This years world premiere production features an original score by Bay Area jazz great Marcus Shelby and a libretto by Roma Olvera based on the story of a middle school girl who triumphs over the challenges of adolescence with Civil War-era legend Harriet Tubman as her role model and spirit guide. Students of Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco will share the stage with professional singers and Jazz Ensemble in creating the production. OPs Hands-On-Opera production annually draws capacity crowds.


Modesty is a middle school aged girl who is struggling with bullying.  She tries daily to melt into the scenery so classmates wont make fun of her and even worse, is too afraid to protect her friends enduring the same abuse. At night, she escapes into a magical book about the life of Harriet Tubman and is visited by the commanding historical figure who offers advice, tells stories that connect to her life today, and ultimately shows how she triumphed during a moment in the Civil War of great peril with the power of love and music. Students of Rooftop Middle School play roles as adolescent bullies, timid underdogs, and freed slaves during the Civil war. They share the stage with jazz great Tiffany Austin as Harriet Tubman and Christabel Nunoo as the youthful Modesty accompanied by a Jazz Ensemble led by Marcus Shelby under the baton of Lucik Aprahämian and directed by Erin Neff.

Harriet Tubman: Tiffany Austin
Modesty: Christabel Nunoo
Students of Rooftop Alternative School

Tiffany Austin (Harriet Tubman) One of the West Coasts fastest rising jazz vocalists, Tiffany Austin is a classically trained singer who delivers a fiery blend of blues and classic swing. A graduate of UC Berkeleys Boalt School of Law who has lived and performed on three continents, Austin decided to forgo a career as a lawyer to focus on music, her true passion. Her 2015 debut album Nothing But Soul earned positive reviews, including four stars from Downbeat Magazine and an NPR Fresh Air radio feature. Austin is currently working on her second album, Unbroken, scheduled for release in early 2018. www.tiffanyaustin.com

CHristabel Nunoo (Modesty) Soprano Christabel Nunoo recently obtained her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance. She has sung in masterclasses led by esteemed artists such as Martin Katz, Evelyn Lear, Roderick Dixon, Jesse Blumberg, and Reri Grist. She is a former member of the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra from 2004 to 2012 where she also played principal clarinet in the orchestra. Christabel has been invited to perform on several occasions with renowned Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano, Frederica von Stade and was featured in a concert with American composer Jake Heggie for San Francisco Performances. She made her solo debut in 2012 with the Oakland Symphony under the direction of Michael Morgan at the Target Independence Day Celebration. She appeared with the Oakland Symphony again in June 2013 in A Celebration of the Music of Dave Brubeck performing alongside Frederica von Stade and Daves son Chris Brubeck. Christabel owes her passion and dedication for the arts to her mother who always pushed her to work hard and find her niche in life.


Conductor: Lucik Aprahamian
Director: Erin Neff


Lucik Aprahämian (Conductor) is on the faculty of the San Francisco Girls Chorus as Assistant Conductor and Level III Director, and as Music Director at First Lutheran Church of Palo Alto. She is also thrilled to begin her tenure as Music Director of the vocal group, Resound Ensemble. An avid exponent of new music, Aprahämian has commissioned and premiered works for a variety of performing forces. Aprahämians has a great passion for opera, and she can be seen on the podium as well as backstage working with sets, props, lighting, and directing. This summer she was the chorus-master of the San Francisco Girls Chorus for the San Francisco Opera production of Carmen. She received her bachelors degree in fortepiano performance practice and masters degree in conducting from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and her doctorate in choral and orchestral conducting from the University of Arizona. She has studied conducting with Nicole Paiement, Bruce Chamberlain, Elizabeth Schauer, Thomas Cockrell, and Charles Bontrager, and voice and theatre production with Brian Staufenbiel.

Erin Neff (Director) first appeared with Opera Parallele singing the role of Margret in Wozzeck and later appeared in The Great Gatsby. In 2016 she assisted director Brian Staufenbiel on the opera Champion. Additionally she has directed for the San Francisco Opera Center, Mendocino Music Festival, Island City Opera,  and The Telluride Music Festival. She was on Staff at UCSF from 1993-2003 teaching voice and currently maintains a private voice studio. An active singer, she has worked at the SF Opera Chorus since 1996. Most recently she was heard there as The Confidante in Elektra.


Buriel Clay Theatre at the Africa American Art & Culture Complex (View)
762 Fulton St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
United States


Arts > Opera
Arts > Performance
Arts > Theatre

Minimum Age: 5
Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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