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Merola Opera Program Announces Participants/Dates for 2020 Summer Festival

Merola Opera Program Announces Participants/Dates for 2020 Summer Festival

After debuting its first-ever commissioned work in the program's history last season, San Francisco's acclaimed Merola Opera Program, one of the most prestigious and selective opera training programs in the world, returns with a New Group of rising opera stars for its 63rd season. The 2020 Merola Summer Festival showcases this year's 29 Merola artists, selected from more than 800 international applicants. The artists, all currently studying in the United States, originally come from as far away as Germany, South Korea, Russia, China, and Colombia, as well as across the U.S. and Canada. The singers will perform in the Schwabacher Summer Concert (July 9 & 11), Postcard from Morocco (July 23 & 25), Le nozze di Figaro (August 6 & 8), and the Merola Grand Finale (August 22). The 2020 Merola Summer Festival includes performances in San Francisco at the handsome, recently renovated Presidio Theatre (new location) and the War Memorial Opera House. Individual event tickets and information available at or 415-864-3330.

"We are eagerly anticipating another group of outstanding young artists this summer at Merola," said Jean Kellogg, Executive Director of Merola Opera Program, "And we look forward to providing them with intensive training from some of the finest master teachers in the country to further their careers. At this time we are moving ahead as planned. Our Merola participants are scheduled to arrive here on June 2, with public performances starting July 9. We are closely monitoring the situation relating to COVID-19 and will assuredly heed all safety measures and government mandates to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Should it become necessary to truncate or postpone the Merola 2020 Summer Festival, we will immediately contact our patrons and all tickets purchased will be transferable/refundable as requested."

Schwabacher Summer Concert - July 9 & 11

A deal with the devil, a heroine striving to avoid entrapment in a harem, the test of time against true love, a woman forced into a convent by her aristocratic family to cover up a scandal, and the devastating effects of jealousy. Some of the most exciting moments in opera come to life as Merola's young artists perform staged scenes from Faust, L'italiana in Algeri, Vanessa, Suor Angelica, and Rossini's Otello in the Schwabacher Summer Concert. Performed in French, Italian, and English (with supertitles), the Schwabacher Summer Concert will be conducted by Ari Pelto, Music Director at Opera Colorado, and directed by Robin Guarino, acclaimed for staging major opera productions for San Francisco Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, and Tulsa Opera, among many others. The Schwabacher Summer Concert will be presented 7:30pm, Thursday, July 9 and 2:00pm, Saturday, July 11 at the Presidio Theatre.

Postcard from Morocco - July 23 & 25

Seven mysterious strangers come together at a train station in an ambiguous, exotic locale in Dominick Argento's vivid one-act opera, Postcard from Morocco. Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses and set to a libretto by John Donahue, the opera unfolds like a stream of consciousness, exposing the characters' prejudices and virtues. An eclectic mix of forms, Postcard from Morocco incorporates cabaret and operetta, while also borrowing from ragtime and other forms of popular music. Conducted by Antony Walker, Music Director of Pittsburgh Opera and Artistic Director of Washington Concert Opera, and directed by David Garrison, Tony-nominated Broadway stage and television actor/director, Postcard from Morocco will be presented 7:30pm, Thursday, July 23 and 2:00pm, Saturday, July 25 at the Presidio Theatre.

Le nozze di Figaro - August 6 & 8
Based on Pierre Beaumarchais' stage comedy La folle journée, Le nozze di Figaro is the first of three great collaborations between Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Italian librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte. Set in Spain, this work features a tangled web of comedy, romance, misadventure, and mistaken identity. Le nozze di Figaro will be conducted by Mark Morash (Merola '87) and directed by Peter Kazaras, Director of Opera UCLA. Sung in Italian with supertitles, Le nozze di Figaro will be presented 7:30pm, Thursday, August 6 and 2:00pm, Saturday, August 8 at the Presidio Theatre.

Merola Grand Finale - August 22

The Summer Festival concludes August 22 with the Merola Grand Finale, a concert at the War Memorial Opera House featuring the 29 young artists of the 2020 Merola Opera Program, who will showcase a dazzling array of opera's most exciting arias and ensembles. Conducted by Nicholas McGegan, Emeritus Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, and directed by 2020 Merola Apprentice Stage Director Audrey Chait, this evening showcases the hard work and extraordinary talent of the Merolini. The Merola Grand Finale will be presented 7:30pm, Saturday, August 22 at the War Memorial Opera House. Following the performance, audiences may join the Merola artists for a reception and celebration in the Veterans Building Green Room (separate ticket required).

The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, coach accompanists, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow and offers outreach through educational programs for students and the general public. Throughout the summer 29 Merola artists, selected from more than 800 international applicants, participate in master classes and private coachings with opera's most accomplished singers, conductors, and directors. Participants also receive training in operatic repertory, foreign languages, diction, acting, and stage movement. Offered free of charge for all participants, the Merola Opera Program is unique in the industry in many ways. It is the only young artist program to provide financial support to developing artists for five years following participation, offering aid for essential career development expenses including coaching, language classes, and audition travel. In addition, only Merola graduates are considered for participation in the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship Program. Merola has served as a proving ground for hundreds of artists, who have gone on to impressive careers in opera, including Anna Netrebko, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, Elza van den Heever, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Brian Jagde, Stuart Skelton, Rolando Villazón, Thomas Hampson, Quinn Kelsey, Lucas Meachem, Timothy O'Leary, and Patrick Summers, among many others.

This year's Merola Opera Program artists include:

Emily Blair, Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Catherine Goode, Friendswood, Texas

Magdalena Kuźma, New York, New York

Celeste Morales, San Antonio, Texas
Ashley Marie Robillard, Norton, Massachusetts

Mikayla Sager, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Johanna Will, Dresden, Germany

Gabrielle Barkidjija, River Forest, Illinois
Gabrielle Beteag, Atlanta, Georgia

Jesse Mashburn, Hartselle, Alabama
Nikola Printz, Novato, California
Isabel Signoret, Miami, Florida


Victor Cardamone, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Gabriel Hernandez, Tampa, Florida

Philippe L'Esperance, Grafton, Massachusetts
WooYoung Yoon, Seoul, South Korea
Tianchi Zhang, Huainan, Anhui, China


Thomas Lynch, Lynbrook, New York
Samson McCrady, Tucson, Arizona
Laureano Quant, Barranquilla, Colombia

Ben Brady, Denver, Colorado

Andrew Dwan, Mountain View, California

Seungyun Kim, Cheong-ju, South Korea

Apprentice Coaches
Yang Lin, Shanghai, China
Michael McElvain, Chicago, Illinois
Anna Smigelskaya, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Shiyu Tan, Changsha, Hunan, China
Marika Yasuda, Williamsburg, Virginia

Apprentice Stage Director

Audrey Chait, Menlo Park, California

Photo Credit: Kristen Loken

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