Dallas — Big news from the Dallas Opera. Conductor Nicole Paiement, who specializes in new opera, has been named the first Principal Guest Conductor in the Dallas Opera's history. Considering that Paiement, who conducted The Lighthouse and Death and the Powers for Dallas Opera, is all about new opera, does this mean that the Dallas Opera is committing to regularly performing new work? We're seeing evidence of this, considering recent and upcoming seasons. In 2015, she'll conduct the world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer's Everest.
Look for an interview with Paiement on TheaterJones soon. For now, here's the news release from the Dallas Opera:
DALLAS, JUNE 11, 2014 – The Dallas Opera is proud to announce the appointment of a critically acclaimed, San Francisco-based Artistic Director and contemporary music specialist to serve as the company’s first “Principal Guest Conductor” in our 57-year history.
Maestra Nicole Paiement, who recently appeared at the podium to conduct TDO performances of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers (libretto by Robert Pinsky) will work closely with Music Director Emmanuel Villaume and Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny on a host of upcoming projects, including the January 2015 world premiere of Joby Talbot and Gene Scheer’s EVEREST.
The new appointment is effective immediately.
Nicole Paiement earned rave reviews in her 2012 Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ 1979 thriller, The Lighthouse. At the time, Wayne Lee Gay of D Magazine’s Front Row blog wrote: “She combined old-fashioned precision and discipline with up-to-the-minute insight into the complex modernity of the score.”
Willard Spiegelman of Opera News held similar views: “Nicole Paiement led the ensemble briskly through a score that is rhythmically as well as harmonically complex…Every syllable, every note, was crisply articulated.”
And Laura Begley of Operagasm gave Paiement’s performance an enthusiastic thumbs-up: “Last but definitely not least, enough cannot be said for Nicole Paiement’s Dallas Opera debut. Paiement conducted this difficult piece with incredible ease and precision. I doubt there was one beat in the whole piece where the singers or orchestra did not feel completely guided by Paiement. In a strange space for a pit, with an odd assortment of instruments, and of course a difficult score, Paiement was able to make the entire piece flow together.”
Paiement also put her stamp on the recent Dallas Opera production of Death and the Powers, drawing universal acclaim for her conducting. Katie Womack of The Observer (Dallas) noted: “Conductor Nicole Paiement made beautiful sense out of technically challenging music, and the small chamber orchestra consistently pulled off her vision.”
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs of Theater Jones came to the same conclusion: “The production is dazzling from start to finish. It is also magnificently performed by singing actors, a valiant chamber orchestra and conductor Nicole Paiement, who skillfully negotiates the complicated score with remarkable ease.”
“I have been very impressed with Nicole’s ability to bring clarity to performances of the most challenging contemporary scores since I first encountered her conducting. The occasion was a remarkable performance of a reduced orchestration version of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck some years ago in San Francisco,” explains Dallas Opera General Director and CEO Keith Cerny. “Her generosity of spirit, radiant personality and her deft and diplomatic way of providing guidance to singers and orchestra members has made a deep impression on the company—and earned the respect of her peers and colleagues, onstage and off.”
Maestra Paiement is the Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle (OP), a professional company in San Francisco dedicated to contemporary opera. There, Paiement has conducted many new productions including the World premiere of the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the West Coast premiere of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Berg’s Wozzeck, Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar and the commission of Dante De Silva’s opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness – presented as a graphic opera.
In the wake of highly praised performances of Francis Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias and Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel last April, about which Suzanne Weiss of Culture Vulture wrote: “If more people knew that opera could be this cool, more people would go to the opera”; Paiement’s upcoming projects include this month’s American premiere of Adam Gorb’s riveting opera about modern-day sex trafficking, Anya17.
Maestra Paiement is an active guest conductor, specializing in contemporary music. She has premiered and commissioned numerous works from composers around the world and recorded extensively.
Additionally, Nicole Paiement is the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project – a new music series sponsored by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. With this music series, she has commissioned, premiered and recorded works from many living American composers.
Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she conducted the orchestra and opera productions.
“It is clear that Nicole is a deeply thoughtful, expressive and gifted conductor with a personality that encourages artists and musicians to discover and deliver their best work,” says Dallas Opera Music Director Emmanuel Villaume (who is, himself, conducting overseas). “Experienced collaborators are to be prized—highly intelligent collaborators are to be treasured. And I am looking forward to welcoming Nicole to The Dallas Opera in this newly created position.”