Gordon Getty’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips Will Premier as a Movie

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Gordon Getty’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips
Movie Premier

Sunday, November 14, 2021, 4 P.M. (PST)
California Film Institutes’s Smith Rafael Film Center

Employing Twenty-First Century Technology To Tell a Timeless Tale


A new opera by Gordon Getty, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, will receive its world premiere—as an opera reimagined for film—on Sunday, November 14, 2021, at 4 p.m. (PST). The public screening, presented by Festival Napa Valley in partnership with the Mill Valley Film Festival, will take place at the California Film Institute’s Smith Rafael Film Center’s main theater in downtown San Rafael, 1118 4th Street, San Rafael, CA 94901.

Getty’s fourth opera is based on the popular 1934 novella Goodbye, Mr. Chips and other stories by James Hilton. This film, directed by Brian Staufenbiel, represents the opera’s premiere. Goodbye, Mr. Chips tells the heart-warming story of a teacher at Brookfield, an all-boys English boarding school to which “Chips” dedicates most of his adult life. The opera chronicles Chips’ story of love, loss and learning over his decades-long tenure at Brookfield.

The film features Nathan Granner in the titular role of Mr. Chips, Marnie Breckenridge singing Kathie and Linford, Lester Lynch as Merrivale, and Kevin Short as Ralston and Rivers. The orchestra of stellar Bay Area players is conducted by Nicole Paiement. Members of The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, conducted by Francisco J. Núñez, represent the boarding school’s students.

The premiere was originally planned as a fully-staged, live opera performance, but COVID-19 cancellations gave the team an opportunity to try something new. Rather than put the project on hold, the team reimagined the work as a film. This new medium allowed for seamless storytelling, with Chips moving fluidly between his later life and flashbacks of his early years at Brookfield.

As a result of pandemic safety protocols, the main cast, orchestra, and chorus were all recorded separately. The cast then filmed on a live set in San Francisco, while the boys were captured as projections in New York City, vividly appearing in the film as Chips remembers them.

Background Information:

(Bios courtesy of the artists)

About Gordon Getty

With the November 2021 premiere of his operatic film Goodbye, Mr. Chips, composer Gordon Getty adds a fourth opera to his list of compositions, which also includes works for orchestra, chorus, vocal and instrumental soloists, and chamber ensembles. His staged works have been mounted by Leipzig Opera, Welsh National Opera, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and Bolshoi Ballet, while his orchestral repertoire has been recorded and performed by the likes of the San Francisco Symphony under Michael Tilson Thomas, Mikhail Pletnev leading the Russian National Orchestra, and Sir Neville Marriner with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Getty’s life in music is the subject of Peter Rosen’s 2016 documentary There Will Be Music. Recent honors include the European Culture Prize and an inaugural induction into Opera America’s Hall of Fame. Gordon Getty is a Pentatone artist and his music is published by Rork Music. For more information, visit www.gordongetty.com.

About Nathan Granner (Mr. Chips):

Nathan Granner is a world-renowned leading tenor, headliner, solo and collaborative artist, specializing in Contemporary Opera and late Bel-Canto repertoire.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently described Mr. Granner’s singing as possessing a “sinewy, ringing tone; splendidly flexible” and the San Francisco Classical Voice extolled “tons of squillo on his top notes, his honeyed tone, and his sensitive dynamic choices…”In addition to singing roles like Puccini’s Rodolfo, Mozart’s Ferrando and Verdi’s Jacopo Foscari, Granner’s intense performance style hits all of his characters. He has originated numerous roles in world premieres, including Korey Wise in Anthony Davis’ 2020 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera The Central Park Five and Aubrey Wells in Opera Parallèle’s beautiful work Today it Rains, by the Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reid team.

Gaining chart-topping success as a founding member of the Sony Classical group “The American Tenors,” Nathan has also toured extensively as a solo artist accompanied by classical guitarist/record producer Beau Bledsoe. Together they’ve brought arrangements of Lieder and Chanson, Flamenco, Tango, Turkish styles and new compositions to such remote places as Glendive, Montana and Perm, Russia, a city of more than a million people held secret until the cold war between the USSR and the United States. Find out more at www.nathangranner.com

About Marnie Breckenridge (Kathie):

Marnie Breckenridge is renowned for her beautiful, pure soprano, grounded storytelling, deeply expressive score interpretations, excellent musicianship and layered characterizations. She is a go-to performer of critically acclaimed new works, praised for her “bell-like ring over an enormous range and personality spilling from every note” (The Globe and Mail), “lovely soprano” voice (The New York Times), and “lyrical poignancy and dramatic power” (The Chicago Tribune). She won the 2020 DORA award for “Outstanding Performance by an Individual in an Opera” for Jacqueline by Luna Pearl Woolf and Royce Vavrek about the life of Jacqueline Du Pré, written for her and cellist, Matt Haimovitz (Tapestry Opera). Other favorite roles (in addition to Kathie in Getty’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips film): Mother in Little’s Dog Days (LA Opera & Ft. Worth Opera, Prototype Festival), Sierva Maria in Peter Eötvös’s Love and Other Demons (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Emily in Ned Rorem’s Our Town, Margarita Xirgu in Golijov’s Ainadamar, the title role in Milhaud’s Médée, La Princesse in Glass’s Orphée, Beck Strand in Kaminsky’s Today it Rains (Opera Parallèlle), and Cunegonde in Candide (English National Opera and Prague State Opera) deemed “simply terrific” (Opera Magazine, UK) and “note perfect” (Prague Post). Breckenridge is a featured soloist on New World Records’ album of Victor Herbert songs, on Dimitri Hvorostovsky’s CD “Heroes and Villains,” the “Vocal Music Of David Conte,” “Summer Songs” by Robert Paterson, DOG DAYS (Little) and several other recordings by American Composers. Her solo Holiday EP, “Happy Golden Days,” can be found on all streaming platforms. https://marniebreckenridge.com

About Lester Lynch (Merrivale):

Acclaimed by opera and concertgoers worldwide, dramatic baritone Lester Lynch is regarded as that most prized of operatic singers, a true Verdi baritone. He is also one of today’s foremost interpreters of American spirituals and contemporary opera. An accomplished pianist and arranger, his musicality was nurtured early. Whether performing an aria, song or a hymn, his powerful voice and commanding presence move audiences universally. His debut album, released in 2017, On My Journey Now, is the first of two albums that represent the African American spirituals that are most meaningful to him. Significantly, Lester has been heard on many other recordings, Otello as Iago, Cavalleria Rusticana as Alfio, Il Tabarro as Michele, a DVD of Porgy and Bess released by San Francisco Opera as Crown, and finally as Pierre Cauchon in the Cantata, Joan and the Bells, by American composer Gordon Getty.

Lester Lynch has appeared with most of Europe’s and North America’s leading opera houses, Teatro alla Scala, Covent Garden, Semper Opera in Dresden, Baden Baden, Dusseldorf Oper am Rhein in Germany, Welsh National Opera and English Nation Opera in the United Kingdom, Dom Musiki in Moscow, Tater Opera and Ballet in Kazan Russia, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera Chicago, Seattle Opera, Detroit Metro Opera, Minneapolis Opera, LA Opera, Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, and Washington National Opera. He has sung with the leading orchestras of the world, among them, the Berlin Philharmonie with famed conductor, Sir Simon Rattle, New York Philharmonic, Gulbenkian Orchestra, National Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony, to name a few.

Upcoming performances include Tonio in I Pagliacci in Russia, the Forrester in The Cunning Little Vixen in England, a concert and recital in Bilbao, Spain, not to mention a return to Scarpia in Tosca in Germany and Wotan in Das Rheingold in the USA.

About Kevin Short (Ralston/Rivers):

Versatile bass-baritone Kevin Short is thrilling audiences around the globe in repertoire ranging from the depths of Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail to Escamillo in Carmen and Der Fliegende Holländer.

A sample of Kevin’s North American operatic and symphonic appearances include performances with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Opéra de las Americas, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the National Symphony.

His European and Asian engagements include performances with Paris’ Opéra Comique, Welsh National Opera, Oper der Stadt Köln, Stadttheater Stuttgart, Teatro di San Carlo, Grand Theatre du Luxembourg, Swiss and Italian RAI Orchestra, Bregenzer Festspiele, Savonlinna Festival d’Aix en Provence, Matsumoto Festival, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony, Marseille Philharmonic, Radio France Orchestra, New Japan Philharmonic, Hiroshima Symphony, and the symphony orchestras in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Kevin received his training at Morgan State University, The Curtis Institute of Music, and the Juilliard School of Music’s American Opera Center. While training at these institutions he won top prizes in the Metropolitan Opera Competition, Internazionale Concorso per Voci Verdiane, Rosa Ponselle International Competition and the Bruce Yarnell Competition for Basses and Baritones.

About Brian Staufenbiel

Brian Staufenbiel is the creative director for Opera Parallèle where he has directed and spearheaded 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 and fabric 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, and a graphic novel film of Talbot/Scheer’s Everest with Opera Parallèle. Other upcoming projects include the premiere of Miguel Zenon’s Golden City Suite with SF JAZZ, the feature-length film of Gordon Getty’s opera Goodbye Mr. Chips for Festival Napa Valley, a project with L’Opéra De Montréal, and a documentary about the life of Frederica Von Stade with Paper Wings Films. Staufenbiel will be co-directing, with choreographer Yayoi Kambara, Ikkai, a dance installation about Japanese incarceration camps in the United States during World War II.

Staufenbiel enjoys an ongoing relationship with composer Philip Glass, having directed a number of his operas including In the Penal Colony for Philip’s 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.

About Nicole Paiement

Conductor Nicole Paiement is widely acclaimed for her interpretations of contemporary operas. As Founder and Artistic Director of Opera Parallèle (OP) in San Francisco, Mo. Paiement has conducted many new productions, commissions and world premieres including Laura Kaminsky’s Today it Rains; John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby; Blanchard’s Champion; Dove’s Flight; Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; Osvaldo Goljov’s Ainadamar and John Rea’s reorchestration of Wozzeck. Most recently Paiement conducted OP’s new film production Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera by Joby Talbot, a work she originally premiered on stage at The Dallas Opera. An active guest conductor, Mo. Paiement made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2019 with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and at Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in 2020. Other guest conducting engagements have brought her to Fort Worth Symphony, Atlanta Opera, Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Monterey Jazz Festival, and the Hollywood Bowl. Upcoming engagements include her UK premiere in November 2022 at the English National Opera before returning to London in June 2023 to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center. Mo. Paiement will also return to the Dallas Opera, where she is Principal Guest Conductor in April 2022 and to Opéra de Montréal in 2023. In addition to being a leader in contemporary opera, Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.

About The Young People’s Chorus of New York City:

The Young People’s Chorus of New York City (YPC) is a multicultural youth chorus internationally renowned for its superb virtuosity, brilliant showmanship, and innovative model of diversity. Founded by Artistic Director Francisco J. Núñez, a MacArthur Fellow and Musical America’s 2018 Educator of the Year, YPC’s spectacular artistry has been showcased in award-winning performances around the world.

With repertoire that spans Renaissance and classical traditions through gospel, folk, jazz, pop, contemporary and world music, YPC also continually invigorates its catalogue of music for young voices by commissioning pieces of diverse music from many of the most distinguished and emerging composers of our time. The chorus frequently inspires invitations from a wide range of cultural institutions and festivals, and most recently performed in front of a national televised audience during the 9/11 20th Anniversary Memorial and at the renowned Global Citizen Live festival this fall.

Among YPC’s many awards is America’s highest honor for youth programs, a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, which was presented to members of YPC at the White House. Under the direction of YPC’s Associate Artistic Director, Elizabeth Núñez, YPC also earned the distinction of “Choir of the World” in July 2018 at the International Choral Kathaumixw (Powell River, British Columbia), marking the first time a North American chorus has ever won this title in the 34-year history of Kathaumixw. YPC has received a Chorus America Education Outreach Award, two Chorus America/ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming and a 2017 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence.

About Festival Napa Valley:

Blending the beauty and bounty of Napa Valley with the very finest performing arts, Festival Napa Valley offers programs that enrich the economic and cultural vitality of the region and make the arts accessible to all. The Festival presents world-class performances staged in iconic venues and inspiring educational programs offered digitally and at Napa County schools year-round. It is presented by Napa Valley Festival Association, a nonprofit organization governed by a board of prominent vintners and local leaders. More than 200 artists, wineries, resorts, theaters, restaurants, chefs and vintners participate each year.

About California Film Institute’s Mill Valley Film Festival

Presented by the California Film Institute, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) is known as a filmmakers’ festival and is the West Coast launch pad for many Academy Award®-winning films, annually showcasing 200+ films from over 50 countries. The MVFF creates a community that celebrates the best in international film as well as Tributes and Spotlights with major film talents. The relaxed and non-competitive atmosphere surrounding MVFF gives filmmakers and audiences alike the opportunity to share their work and experiences in a collaborative and convivial spirit.

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