Nicole Paiement: Women’s Opera Network Spotlight

Full Name
Nicole Paiement

Current Title
Artistic Director/Principal Guest Conductor

Company/Organization
Opera Parallèle/The Dallas Opera

Time in Current Position
8 years/2 years

Years Working Professionally in the Field
20 years

What was your career path to your current position?
I began my conducting career with broad interests, working with a wide variety of ensembles and performing a wide range of repertoire. My passion for collaborative work, my curiosity for discovering obscure quality works and my love for bringing life to new works led me to the creation of Ensemble Parallèle (EP) — an ensemble that collaborated with artists from various countries and that completed more than 20 recordings of works from both past and living composers. My work with EP and my affinity for the vocal repertoire eventually drew me to opera as a focus for my career. In 2012, Ensemble Parallèle evolved to Opera Parallèle (OP) — an opera company that focuses on contemporary opera. My work with the company has opened the door to guest conducting with various opera companies and the opportunity to become the principal guest conductor at The Dallas Opera.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome on that path?
My career has followed a path that seems very natural, and I have not truly experienced many obstacles. At times, my smaller stature has surprised my musical collaborators, but this issue is quickly overcome once we begin to work together. I have been told that I am much larger on the podium.

Who was your greatest advocate or mentor?
As a student at Eastman School of Music, I had the privilege of working with Alfred Mann. His endless knowledge and profound humility remain a great inspiration to me. Many composers have also encouraged me throughout my career, Lou Harrison in particular, who entrusted me with the premieres of many of his works, most notably his opera Young Caesar.

What is the one thing you wish you had known at the start of your career that you know now?
That the “career” would only look cohesive in hindsight. Choices are sometimes hard and that is okay.

Is there anything else you would like to say about being a leader in the arts?
The most important consideration is to inspire people so that great art will emerge from the process. If there is a profound vision on the podium, the collective will readily embark toward the common goal of bringing it to life.