Saturday April 6, 2024

02:00 PM - 11:00 pm

Opera Parallèle brings together two seemingly disparate, but perfectly paired operas to create an entertaining evening in the theater. Birds & Balls combines David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s 2010 opera, Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera with the World Premiere of Laura Karpman and Gail Collins’ opera, Balls. This innovative new pairing explores the nature of competition, how it can consume a personality and the human desire to win, all through a comedic lens.

Vinkensport, or The Finch Opera is a bittersweet comedy in one act inspired by the obscure Flemish folk sport, Finch-Sitting. We see a motley assortment of contestants battle it out to see who has the most melodious bird. Trained finches race to sing the most “susk-e-wiets” over the course of an hour. As they compete, the joys, sorrows, delusions, and all-too-stark realities of their trainers are revealed. Some of the trainers are noble, some not. Some play fair, some don’t. Some just don’t even want to be there at all. But almost all are lost in the world, finding comfort in the companionship of their birds, and in the mere potential of community.

Balls is a multimedia opera dramatizing the famed September 20, 1973, tennis game between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. The match, dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” changed not only the perception and treatment of women in sports, but significantly advanced the women’s rights movement. The opera features a live tennis match as a central narrative device, along with actual commentary from the 1973 broadcast. Balls also incorporates electronic sampling entwined in the score, and some creative time hopping, so key figures such as Larry King and Howard Cosell are joined by American Suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

“We’re creating a mash-up of two sporting events, and we’re setting it in the ’70s,” Opera Parallèle’s Creative Director, Brian Staufenbiel said. “It’s going to be like, ‘ABC Wide World of Sports presents Vinkensport, and now we’re at the SFJAZZ Astrodome.’ And that whole space [in SFJAZZ’s Miner Auditroium] is in the round, so it feels just like you’re in a sports arena, and then we’ll be projecting on all the walls as well.”

Please Note: This production includes some explicit visuals and content more suitable for mature audiences. We do not recommend this opera for all-ages.



Nikola Printz Billie Jean King
Nathan Granner Bobby Riggs
Tiffany Austin Marilyn
Daniel Cilli Larry King
Mark Hernandez Howard Cosell
Gabriela Linares Rosie Casals
Shawnette Sulker Susan B. Anthony
Jamie Chamberlin Vocal Quartet
Nina Jones Vocal Quartet
Chad Somers Vocal Quartet
Chung-Wai Soong Vocal Quartet

‘Vinkensport’ (Birds)
Jamie Chamberlin Holy St. Francis’s Trainer
Daniel Cilli Atticus Finch’s Trainer
Nathan Granner Han Sach’s Trainer
Mark Hernandez Referee
Chelsea Hollow Farinelli’s Trainer
Chung-Wai Soong Prince Gabriel III of Belgium’s Trainer
Shawnette Sulker Sir Elton John’s Trainer
Nina Jones Super
Gabriela Linares Super
Chad Somers Super

Saturday April 06, 2024

2:00 pm - 11:00 pm

All Ages

Cover: $30.00

Various Cover: $30 - $175

Opera Parallèle's 'Birds & Balls', San Francisco