Harriet's Spirit Workshop
In May, Opera Parallèle continued the development of Harriet’s Spirit, a new opera inspired by the life of American abolitionist and humanitarian Harriet Tubman. An OP Hands-On-Opera commission initiated in 2018 features music by Bay Area jazz composer Marcus Shelby and libretto by Roma Olvera.

Building on the success of the first version of Harriet’s Spirit, Shelby expanded the composition, adding a new aria and orchestrating it to an extended, more developed score for eleven musicians, a wonderful addition to the canon of family operas.

The creative team, including Shelby, Olvera, Conductor Nicole Paiement, Creative Director Brian Staufenbiel, and Assistant Conductor Jaymes Kirksey, came together with singers and orchestral players at the Paul Dresher studios with Dramaturg L. Peter Callender and Creative Contributor Denise Young Smith joining via Zoom, for two days of extensive work on the newly orchestrated opera. 

Among the singers reprising their roles from 2018 are Tiffany Austin as Harriet Tubman and Christabel Nunoo as Modesty, 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.

An upcoming production of Harriet's Spirit is planned following the success of the workshop. 
OP General and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement, Harriet’s Spirit Composer Marcus Shelby, Assistant Conductor Jaymes Kirksey and Librettist Roma Olvera.
Christabel Nunoo, in the role of Modesty and Tiffany Austin, in the role of Harriet Tubman chat between recording sessions.
Nicole Paiement conducting the orchestra.
Meet Bradley Kynard, soloist, Montgomery and The Janitor
Tell us what your involvement was in Harriet's Spirit workshop.
My initial introduction to Opera Parallèle occurred in 2016 when I was hired to sing in their groundbreaking opera Champion. I knew from that experience that OP was a company that I would love to work with again. I went on to sing in OP's productions of Xochitl and the Flowers and Trouble in Tahiti. When the invitation came to collaborate in Harriet's Spirit, there was no question. Initially, I was brought on to sing the part of Montgomery in a scene with Harriet Tubman. Later, when asked to sing a second role, I was happy to oblige. This new character, The Janitor, has a fantastic aria.  
Meet Assistant Conductor Jaymes Kirksey
Tell us what your involvement was in the Harriet's Spirit workshop.
I was asked by OP General and Artistic Director Nicole Paiement to assist her in the two-day workshop of Harriet's Spirit. I conducted several movements of the opera. I also provided/curated notes between the composer Marcus Shelby and Nicole to be used in the final drafts of the project.
Don’t miss OP’s fourth and final free recital in our spring-themed
Close-Up series
Celebrating Father’s Day, featuring Kenneth Kellogg, bass-baritone, and Kevin Korth, piano.
Find links to watch and more at www.operaparallele.org/closeup
Available free on-demand until Thursday, July 15th at 5 PM PDT.
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