Brian Staufenbiel Portrait



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Staufenbiel: Opera
Staufenbiel: Tenor


Brian Staufenbiel has served as Director-in-Residence with Opera Parallèle since 2007, where he has been at the helm of the direction and design of the Opera’s critically acclaimed productions. Utilizing cutting-edge design and adventurous stagecraft, Staufenbiel’s visionary productions have left an indelible impression on the San Francisco Bay Area opera scene.

His work with Opera Parallèle began in February 2007, when he directed the world premiere of the final version of Lou Harrison’s opera Young Caesar. In January 2010, Staufenbiel directed the West Coast premiere of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Hailed by San Francisco Classical Voice as “mesmerizing” and “devastating,” Staufenbiel’s striking direction created “images and scenes that continue to haunt the memory.”

Staufenbiel’s 2011 production of Philip Glass’ Orphée wove cirque acrobatics, kinetic staging, and floating film projections into a cohesive, surrealist tapestry. The production was awarded first prize in the National Opera Association Opera Competition in the professional category. Also in 2011, Staufenbiel’s production of Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts—a collaboration with Opera Parallèle and SFMOMA—received acclaim by the Financial Times saying that, “the imagination can take you anywhere—prevailed.” In February, Staufenbiel directed the world premiere of the re-orchestration of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby.

As a guest director, Staufenbiel has worked on productions in the Bay Area and internationally. In 2010, Staufenbiel’s direction of Madame Butterfly for Festival Opera in Walnut Creek garnered critical attention for its deft use of shadow-puppet theater and intimate staging. He returned to Festival Opera in the summer 2011 to direct The Most Happy Fella. In 2009 he collaborated with new-music proponents Composers Inc. to direct the world premiere of Allen Shearer’s The Dawn Makers. In the summer of 2010, he directed Berg’s Wozzeck at the Astoria Music Festival. He will be returning to Astoria this summer to direct Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Staufenbiel has also directed at the Seoul Contemporary Opera Company for the Korean premiere of David Evan Jones’ Bardos and the reprise of Chan-Hae Lee’s Back to the Origins.

Staufenbiel is the Director of the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where his productions have won first prize in the National Opera Association’s Opera Competition. Staufenbiel is currently designing Opera Parallèle’s upcoming production Olvado Golijov’s Ainadamar, set to premiere in February 2013 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.