Vanessa Becerra & Hadleigh Adams Lead Opera Parallèle’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

By Francisco Salazar

Opera Parallèle is set to collaborate with SFJAZZ for Philip Glass’ opera “Beauty and the Beast.”

The opera is based on the epic 1946 romantic fantasy film by French poet and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau. The production, which is set to be performed on July 14, 15, 16, and 17 at SFJAZZ, will fuse opera and film.

In a statement, Opera Parallèle’s Director and Concept Designer Brian Staufenbiel said, “The synergy of film and opera is deep in the DNA of Opera Parallèle’s aesthetic and history of past productions. Our privileged relationship with Philip Glass has inspired us to finish his Cocteau-trilogy with this new version of La Belle et la Bête. OP’s approach has been to respond to the dream-like conscious and subconscious elements with our own filmed sections and live action on-stage. We explore the questions —like Cocteau— of what is true beauty, and in the greater context of this dream-tale, what is good and evil? Cocteau understood what it was like to live with a mask, in fear of showing his true self and sexual orientation, hence his greater allegorical question: can we go beyond external appearances and categories (the conscious, the beast) and discover what beauty lies inside the soul, (the subconscious). When I take this mask off, will you love me for who I am?”

The opera’s cast will feature soprano Vanessa Becerra in her San Francisco operatic debut as La Belle and baritone Hadleigh Adams as La Bête/Le Prince/Avenant. Baritone Eugene Brancoveanu and soprano Sophie Delphis will join the cast.

The MANA Saxophone Quartet, keyboardists Keisuke Nakagoshi (OP’s resident pianist), Kevin Korth and Taylor Chan and Kjell Nordeson on percussion perform the score.

Nicole Paiement conducts Brian Staufenbiel’s production.