Merola’s Voices ’Round the World’

San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program will mark its 50th birthday next year with a celebration dubbed “Voices Heard ’Round the World.”

At a press conference on Monday, Merola Board President David Hugle, Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald and San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley joined to announce a celebration of the anniversary, including the premiere of a commissioned work from Thomas Pasatieri.

“Hotel Casablanca,” to be performed Aug. 3 and 5, 2007, is based on Georges Feydeau’s 1907 “A Flea in Her Ear,” but the new opera is set in 1940s Texas. (A Texan, S.F. Opera boss Gockley commissioned what was to become Pasatieri’s best-known work, “The Seagull,” in 1972, at the beginning of Gockley’s 33-year-long run as general director of the Houston Grand Opera.)

Other anniversary-year Merola events are a gala concert on May 19; Rossini’s “Cenerentola” (Martin Katz, conductor; Jose Maria Condemi, director; Erik Flatmo, designer), July 13 and 15 (coaches to include Frederica von Stade and Thomas Allen); a free performance in Yerba Buena Gardens, July 29; and the Merola Grand Finale, Aug. 18, conducted by Patrick Summers.

Merola is the world’s oldest and probably biggest training program for young singers, having produced more than 1,000 graduates (“Merolini”), some of whom have become international stars. The honor list of distinguished alumni includes sopranos Ruth Ann Swenson, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, baritone Thomas Hampson and conductor Summers.

Created in 1957 by Kurt Herbert Adler and James Schwabacher, the program is named after Gaetano Merola, 1881-1953, the Opera’s founder and first general director.

Although a July 1, 1957, performance in Stern Grove is the official beginning of Merola, there were training programs here even before then, but not in the current format and organization.

In 1954, the antecedent of the current program was called the Merola Fund, established to help with auditions for comprimario roles at the opera.

Since then, the Merola Program has developed into an annual three-month summer program of classes, coaching, performance opportunities, post-program support and a “graduate level” continuation for some as Adler Fellows, who are seen in the company’s productions.

On Tuesday, participants in that program will offer a gala concert of arias and opera scenes in the Opera House, called “The Future Is Now.” Donald Runnicles will conduct the Opera Orchestra.

The Future is Now: Adler Fellows gala concert

Presented by San Francisco Opera

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Where:War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco

Tickets: $35 to $75

Contact: (415) 864-3330 or www.sfopera.com

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm updates: Sunday was wettest October day in San Francisco history

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

While Kaiser Permanente patients seeking mental health care will get a 30-minute phone assessment within days, in many cases, they cannot get actual treatment for months. (Shutterstock)
City employees face months-long wait time for mental health care

‘We are in the midst of a mental health crisis’

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
$1.4 trillion ‘blueprint’ would address Bay Area’s housing, transit woes

Analyzing the big ticket proposals in ‘Plan Bay Area 2050’

Klay Thompson, left, and his boat dealer Kenyon Martin take on his test drive on the NBA star’s 37-foot vessel; injury woes sent Thompson, the Golden State guard, looking for solace. He found it on the water. (Courtesy Anthony Nuccio via New York Times)
Warriors star finds love with his fishing boat

Being on the water is a ‘safe space’ for Klay Thompson

Most Read