Nicole Paiement has gained an international reputation as a conductor of contemporary music and opera. Her numerous recordings include many world premiere works.
Maestro Paiement’s 2012 Dallas Opera debut conducting Peter Maxwell Davies’ 1979 thriller, The Lighthouse earned rave reviews. Subsequently, Paiement was appointed Principal Guest Conductor at The Dallas Opera. Paiement has since returned to Dallas to conduct performances of Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers, as well as the critically acclaimed and highly anticipated world premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw and Douglas Cuomo’s Arjuna’s Dilemma. In 2018, Paiement conducted the US premiere of Michel Van Der Aa’s Sunken Garden and most recently in 2022 conducted Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers.
Founder and Artistic Director of San Francisco’s Opera Parallèle, Paiement has conducted many new productions, including: world premieres of Lou Harrison’s final version of Young Caesar, Dante De Silva’s commissioned opera Gesualdo, Prince of Madness (presented as a graphic opera), Luciano Chessa’s commissioned opera A Heavenly Act, the commissioned chamber version of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby, the premiere of the re-orchestration of Terence Blanchard’s Champion in collaboration with SFJAZZ Center; West Coast premieres of John Rea’s re-orchestration of Alban Berg’s Wozzeck and Philip Glass’ Orphée; Virgil Thomson’s Four Saints in Three Acts; Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar; Francis Poulenc’s Les Mamelles de Tirésias; Kurt Weill’s Mahagonny Songspiel; American Premieres of Adam Gorb’s Anya 17 and Tarik O’Regan’s Heart of Darkness; the San Francisco Bay Area return of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking; a new production of Peter Maxwell Davies’ The Lighthouse; Philip Glass’ Les Enfants Terribles; and Jonathan Dove’s Flight. In 2017/18 Paiement conducted a new double bill of Jake Heggie’s At the Statue of Venus and Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti in collaboration with SFJAZZ, as well as Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. Opera Parallèle made its debut at Phillip Glass’ Days & Nights Festival in the 2018/19 season with Glass’ In the Penal Colony. That season also featured Paiement conducting the world premiere performances of Today it Rains, a commissioned opera by Laura Kaminsky based on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe, and the return of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince. In 2021, Paiement was conductor for the company’s groundbreaking film project, Everest – A Graphic Novel Opera. The 2021/22 season saw Paiement lead the West Coast premiere of Lembit Beecher’s Sophia’s Forest, and complete Glass’ Cocteau trilogy with a new production of La Belle et La Bête at SFJAZZ.
Ms. Paiement is a very active guest conductor. In 2019, she made her debut at Lyric Opera of Chicago with Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, as well as performances with the Washington National Opera, The Glimmerglass Festival (2016 – 2018) and a debut at Seattle Opera with Mason Bates’ The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. Other prior engagements include Talbot’s Everest with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Puts’ Silent Night at The Atlanta Opera and Washington National Opera for the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz’s The Dictator’s Wife. In 2019 Paiement also conducted the world premiere of Jake Heggie’s If I Were You with Merola Opera Program, San Francisco. Mo. Paiement made her debut at Opéra de Montréal with the Canadian premiere of Benjamin’s Written on Skin in January 2020 and with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in November 2020.
In 2022, Mo. Paiement returned to The Dallas Opera for a new production of Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, and made her UK premiere with the English National Opera conducting It’s a Wonderful Life by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer. Paiement also returned to the UK in June 2023 to conduct Talbot’s Everest with the BBC Symphony at the Barbican Center, London. Also in the 2022/23 season Mo. Paiement returned to L’Opéra de Montréal with Ainadamar by Golijov and made her concert debut with the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, Italy. For Opera Parallèle, Paiement conducted the premiere of a new chamber orchestration of the Moravec/Campbell opera The Shining in June 2023.
The 2023/2024 season will include the world premiere of The Emissary (by Kenji Oh & Kelley Rourke) with Opera Parallèle in October 2023 followed by Birds & Balls at SFJAZZ in April 2024. Paiement also returns to the Dallas Opera in March 2024 for Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, as well as a debut with the Volksoper Vienna in June 2024, conducting both a symphonic concert and The Gospel According to the Other Mary by John Adams. Paiement will also return to L’Opéra de Montréal in the 2024/25 Season.
Paiement has served as the Artistic Director of the BluePrint Project at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) where she has commissioned, premiered, and recorded works from many living American composers. At SFCM, she holds the Jean and Josette Deleage Distinguished Chair in New Music. Paiement previously served as the Director of Ensembles at the University of California – Santa Cruz (UCSC), where she was awarded the UCSC Eminent Professor Award in 2014. She received the Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship in 2015 in recognition of her outstanding contributions and achievement in artistic scholarship and teaching.
Paiement was awarded American Composer’s Forum’s “Champion of New Music Award” for her outstanding contributions to contemporary music in 2016. In addition to being a leader in the world of contemporary opera, Ms. Paiement is also a specialist in early 20th Century French music and regularly conducts music from the Baroque and Classical repertoire.