Brian Staufenbiel

Stage Director & Set Designer.

Brian Staufenbiel is the creative director for Opera Parallèle where he has directed and created the conceptual designs of the company’s productions since it was founded in 2010. Specializing in multimedia, immersive, and interdisciplinary productions, he actively works across a wide range of artistic disciplines collaborating in film, and with media designers, choreographers and dancers, circus artists, and designer fabricators. His progressive approach to stagecraft has garnered critical acclaim for many of the company’s productions, including Wozzeck, Orphée, Champion and Dead Man Walking.

Staufenbiel recently directed films for the online festival season of the Sun Valley Music Festival, a film of Dove/Angelis’ Flight for Seattle Opera, an award-winning graphic novel film of Talbot/Scheer’s Everest with Opera Parallèle, and a feature-length film of Gordon Getty’s opera Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Last season included new productions of Moravec and Campbell’s The Shining, a fully immersive experience of Talbot and Scheer’s Everest, for Opera Parallèle, and Golijov’s Ainadamar for L’Opera de Montréal.  Staufenbiel directed a new documentary about the life of Frederica Von Stade with Paper Wings Films and co-directed, with choreographer Yayoi Kambara, IKKAI, a dance installation about Japanese incarceration camps in the United States during World War II, which was performed at Georgia Tech last summer.

This season includes productions for Opera Parallèle, Birds and Balls; the west coast premiere of composer David T. Little and librettist Royce Vavrek’s Vinkensport, combined with Balls, a World Premiere by Emmy & Grammy award winning composer Laura Karpman with a libretto by NY Times writer Gail Collins. Other projects include OP’s the west coast premiere of Fellow Travelers by composer Gregory Spears and librettist Greg Pierce, Ainadamar at Pacific Opera Victoria and Das Rheingold with Calgary Opera.

Staufenbiel recently created a new production of Elektra for Minnesota Opera. His 2016 production of Das Rheingold for Minnesota Opera was reprised at Arizona Opera and L’Opéra de Montréal and opened the 60th season at Seattle Opera in 2023.  It was named a Star Tribune Classical Pick of the Decade.  Other recent projects include the premiere of Miguel Zenon’s Golden City Suite with SF JAZZ, and a new production of Gordon Getty’s Usher House and Canterville Ghost for the Center of Contemporary Opera in NY and LA Opera.

Staufenbiel enjoys an ongoing relationship with composer Philip Glass, having directed many of his operas including In the Penal Colony for Glass’ own festival. The production is currently streaming on a new platform, Philip Glass Days and Night’s Festival Presents, and was named a New York Times Top Ten pick.  He recently finished the Cocteau Trilogy with Opera Parallèle’s acclaimed production of La belle et la bête.

Staufenbiel recently left his position after seventeen years as the director of the opera program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he mounted a wide spectrum of award-winning productions ranging from traditional operas to commissioned works for the program. Staufenbiel holds degrees in Philosophy and Music including a Doctor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music and currently resides in San Francisco.

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