San Francisco Opera Announces 2017 Adler Fellows

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald today announced the thirteen recipients of the 2017 Adler Fellowship. Nine singers, three pianist/apprentice coaches and one director will take part in the program-a multi-year performance-oriented residency offering advanced young artists intensive individual training, coaching and professional seminars, as well as a wide range of performance opportunities. Adler Fellows are selected from the young artists who have participated in the Merola Opera Program. The prestigious fellowship has nurtured the development of more than 175 young artists since its inception.

The nine singers selected as 2017 Adler Fellows are sopranos Sarah Cambidge (Vancouver, Canada), Amina Edris (Christchurch, New Zealand) and Toni Marie Palmertree (Fleetwood, Pennsylvania); tenors Amitai Pati (Auckland, New Zealand), Pene Pati (Auckland, New Zealand) and Kyle van Schoonhoven (Lockport, New York); baritone Andrew Manea (Troy, Michigan); bass-baritone Brad Walker (Lake Zurich, Illinois); and bass Anthony Reed (Alexandria, Minnesota). Sarah Cambidge, Amitai Pati, Kyle van Schoonhoven and Andrew Manea are incoming first-year Adler Fellows. Amina Edris, Toni Marie Palmertree, Pene Pati and Brad Walker return as second-year fellows, and Anthony Reed continues as a third-year Adler in 2017.

Joining the program as a first-year fellow is Aria Umezawa (Toronto, Canada) who becomes the second director in the history of the program to receive a fellowship. Currently artistic director of Toronto-based independent opera company Opera 5, Ms. Umezawa was an Apprentice Stage Director in the 2016 Merola Opera Program, where her staging of the Merola Grand Finale concert was praised by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Over the decades, I've never seen the job dispatched with the elegance, verve and sheer theatrical imagination that Aria Umezawa brought to it on Saturday night in the War Memorial Opera House. This young Canadian artist...marshaled her fellow Merolini with the dexterity of an experienced master." She will participate in all aspects of fellowship training, including dance classes, language classes and score studies. She will also work with the Adler Fellows on their audition repertory, and participate in other San Francisco Opera Center activities.

The pianists selected for Apprentice Coach Fellowships are John Elam (Cleburne, Texas), who will join the program in May 2017; returning third-year fellow Ronny Michael Greenberg (Montreal, Canada), who will conclude his fellowship in May 2017; and first-year fellow Jennifer Szeto (Calgary, Canada), who began her fellowship this month. The Adler Fellow apprentice coaches work closely with Mark Morash, Director of Musical Studies of the Opera Center, and John Churchwell, Head of Music Staff at San Francisco Opera. The coaches participate in the musical activities of both San Francisco Opera and the Opera Center, and they are involved in all aspects of the Adler Fellows' training by acting as pianists for master classes, working with master coaches and preparing the Adler Fellows for concerts and mainstage roles.

Adler Fellows gain valuable professional experience by participating in roles of increasing importance in San Francisco Opera's repertory season, and also enjoy a variety of performance opportunities throughout their fellowship. Engagements for the 2017 Adler Fellows include performances with the Eureka Chamber Music Series (February 10); University Club (March 8); Oakland Symphony (March 31); and The Future Is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert 2017. Select Adler Fellows will also be featured in the 2017 Schwabacher Debut Recital Series. Further information about upcoming Adler Fellow performances will be announced at a later date.

The outgoing 2016 Adler Fellows are soprano Julie Adams; mezzo-sopranos Zanda Šv?de and Nian Wang; baritone Edward Nelson; bass-baritone Matthew Stump; and pianist/apprentice coach Noah Lindquist. The 2016 Adler Fellows' season culminates with a special year-end concert, The Future Is Now: Adler Fellows Gala Concert, on Friday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre. The evening showcases all of the 2016 Adlers in an evening of opera scenes and arias with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra conducted by Resident Conductor Jordi Bernàcer.

2017 Adler Fellow Biographies

Sarah Cambidge

(Vancouver, Canada)

Soprano Sarah Cambidge was winner of the 2016 Denver Lyric Opera Guild competition and a 2015 semifinalist for the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions after being named the winner of the Rocky Mountain Regional finals. As a participant of the 2016 Merola Opera Program, she performed Elsa from Wagner's Lohengrin in the Schwabacher Concert Series. She has worked with the Boulder Symphony Orchestra and the Boulder Music Institute, Vancouver Recital Society, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto Vocal Arts Symposium (Spoleto, Italy), Evergreen Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra, and Yakima Symphony Orchestra. Cambidge is on faculty as a Guest Artist in Residence for the Vocal Department at the Denver School of the Arts and studies voice with Kenneth Cox from the University of Denver. She received her Masters in Vocal Performance at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music in 2013.

Amina Edris

(Christchurch, New Zealand)

Egyptian-born, New Zealand soprano Amina Edris is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who made her Company debut as Frasquita in last summer's Carmen and appeared as Lady-in-Waiting/Flower inDream of the Red Chamber this fall. Roles in her repertory include Norina (Don Pasquale), Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Serpina (La Serva Padrona), Adina (L'Elisir d'Amore), and Gilda (Rigoletto). Edris is a winner of the prestigious Sydney Eisteddfod McDonald's Operatic Aria Competition and the Deborah Reidel award in the Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonynge Bel Canto Award Competition 2013, as well as being awarded a Western Regional Special Encouragement Award in the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. A participant of the 2015 Merola Opera Program, Edris holds a Bachelor of Music from University of Canterbury, a Master of Music from Wales International Academy of Voice, and a post-graduate diploma from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Her upcoming engagements include Tina in Jonathan Dove'sFlight with Opera Parallèle.

Toni Marie Palmertree

(Fleetwood, Pennsylvania)

Last summer, soprano Toni Marie Palmertree made her San Francisco Opera debut as A Heavenly Voice in Don Carlo and sang the role of Barena in Jen?fa. She is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and was a participant of the 2015 Merola Opera Program where she was featured in the Schwabacher Summer Concert. Her many awards include the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Awards (Pittsburgh), as well as finalist in the National Opera Association Voice Competition, the Classical Singer Voice Competition, and the International Moniuszko Voice Competition in Warsaw, Poland. She took first place in the Long Leaf Opera of North Carolina Voice Competition, the Kennett Square Symphony Voice Competition, and the Marcella Sembrich competition. Operatic roles include Rosalinde in Die Fledermaus, Alison in Wandering Scholar, the High Priestess in Aida, Susannah in Susannah, Musetta and Mimì in La Bohème, and Alice in Falstaff. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. Next month, Palmertree appears as a Priestess in the Company's new production of Aida.

Amitai Pati

(Auckland, New Zealand)

Amitai Pati is a tenor of Samoan descent who received his MA in Advanced Vocal Studies at the Wales International Academy of Voice under the tutelage of tenor Dennis O'Neill. As a participant of the 2016 Merola Opera Program, he performed his first principal role as Ferrando in Così fan tutte. Pati won the Lexus SongQuest in 2012 and the Waiariki Institute of Technology NZ Aria in 2015. In 2014, he was invited to be a part of the Young Singers Project in Salzburg, Austria, where he appeared in performances and concerts including La Favorite with El?na Garan?a, Juan Diego Flórez and Ludovic Tézier, and the tenor solo in a production of Mozart's Spatzenmesse. Pati has extensive experience in choral singing, having performed and toured with the New Zealand Youth Choir, the Graduate Choir and the Auckland University Choir. He has sung in master classes with the likes of Joseph Rouleau, Della Jones, Dame Josephine Barstow, Dame Anne Murray, Maestro Richard Bonynge and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. Pati, along with his brother Pene Pati and their cousin Moses Mackay, comprise the highly successful New Zealand vocal trio SOL3 MIO, which mixes both classical and contemporary music.

Pene Pati

(Auckland, New Zealand)

Samoan-born New Zealander and tenor Pene Pati is a first-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and was a participant of the 2013 Merola Opera Program. Having been awarded an array of prizes in recent years, including the prestigious Joan Sutherland and Richard Bonygne Bel Canto Award in 2012 and the Dame Malvina Major Foundation New Zealand Aria award in 2009, Pati has most recently taken first place at the Montserrat Caballé International Aria Competition. In 2010, he was named as the Performing Arts Competition Society's New Zealand Young Performer of the Year, and other awards include the inaugural Iosefa Enari Memorial scholarship from Creative New Zealand, the Seamus Casey Memorial Award and a string of accolades from the University of Auckland including the Pears-Britten and Marie D'Albini awards. He holds a master's degree from the Wales International Academy of Voice. Pati, along with his brother Amitai Pati and their cousin Moses Mackay, comprise the highly successful New Zealand vocal trio SOL3 MIO, which mixes both classical and contemporary music. This season with San Francisco Opera, Pene Pati appears in Dream of the Red Chamber (Eunuch/Stone), Aida (The Messenger), and this summer, sings the role of The Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto.

Kyle van Schoonhoven

(Lockport, New York)

?Tenor Kyle van Schoonhoven was a member of the 2016 Merola Opera Program, where he appeared as Lohengrin in the Schwabacher Summer Concert, and as Rienzi in the Merola Grand Finale concert. He recently was named a winner in the Toronto-Buffalo District and Great Lakes Regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Competition, as well as a 2016 Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition finalist and George London Vocal Competition semi-finalist. In 2013, he made his Carnegie Hall concert debut in Mendelssohn's Elijah and his Carnegie Hall operatic debut as Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. He additionally has appeared in Carmen (Don José), Bobby (Bobby), La Traviata (Alfredo), Ariadne auf Naxos (Bacchus), Bonfire of the Vanities (Peter Fallow), Les Contes d'Hoffmann (Hoffmann), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Lysander),Alcina (Oronte), Il Trovatore (Ruiz) and Don Carlos (Royal Harold). Van Schoonhoven is also an alumnus of the Fredonia College Choir, under the direction of Dr. Gerald Gray and the Westminster Choir, under the direction of Dr. Joe Miller.

Andrew Manea

(Troy, Michigan)

Romanian-American baritone Andrew G. Manea was a participant of the 2016 Merola Opera Program, appearing as Irons Hans/Wolf in their production of Conrad Susa's Transformations. Last year, he also performed Escamillo (Carmen) in Wuhan, China, as well as The Forester (The Cunning Little Vixen), the title role of Don Giovanni, and he competed in competitions including the MONC auditions (regional finalist and Encouragement Award recipient), Jensen Foundation Vocal Competition (finalist), Opera Columbus Cooper-Bing International Voice Competition, and Giulio Gari Foundation (career grant recipient). Manea is a student of Bill McGraw and has worked with opera luminaries such as Marilyn Horne, Warren Jones, Lorin Maazel and James Morris.

Brad Walker

(Lake Zurich, Illinois)

First-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow Brad Walker made his Company debut last summer as Zuniga in Carmen. This fall, the American bass-baritone appears as Dumas in Andrea Chénier and A Stagehand in The Makropulos Case. Walker is a graduate of the 2015 Merola Opera Program, where he performed as Betto in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi. He has sung the title role Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), and Colline (La Bohéme) with Yale Opera where he received an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music. While earning a Master of Music from the University of Kansas, he appeared as Mr. Peachum (The Beggar's Opera), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Orgon (Tartuffe). He also performed as Pangloss (Candide) and Olin Blitch (Susannah) during his time receiving a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University. He has been an apprentice with Des Moines Metro Opera, Chautauqua Opera Company and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and received an award in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Anthony Reed

(Alexandria, Minnesota)

Bass Anthony Reed made his San Francisco Opera debut in various roles in 2015's Les Troyens. He is a second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow who performed Mayor of the Village (Jen?fa), The Speaker/Second Armored Man (The Magic Flute), Hans Schwartz (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) and Doctor Primus in Getty's Usher House during the 2015-16 Season. He was also a participant of the 2014 Merola Opera Program. Roles in his repertory include Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Truffaldin (Ariadne auf Naxos), Don Basilio (IL Barbiere di Siviglia), Dulcamara (L'Elisir d'Amore), Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola), and the Four Villains (Les Contes d'Hoffmann), among others. Reed received a 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Regional Encouragement Award and has been a young artist at the Wolf Trap Opera Studio and the Seagle Music Colony, in addition to his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and the University of Wisconsin. Reed's roles with the Company in the current season include Schmidt in Andrea Chénier and King of Egypt in Aida.

Aria Umezawa

(Toronto, Canada)

Aria Umezawa is Artistic Director of Toronto-based independent opera company Opera 5, and the creator, director, and writer of the webseries "Opera Cheats". Her staging of Poulenc's La Voix humaine took home the Capital City Critics Circle Critic's Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. A graduate of McGill University, she was an Apprentice Stage Director in the 2016 Merola Opera Program, where she staged the Merola Grand Finale concert. A lover of new and obscure operas, Umezawa directed the Canadian premiere of several works including Milton Granger's Talk Opera, Darren Russo's Storybook (commissioned by Opera 5) which took home the 2015 SOCAN Foundation Grand Prize, and the North American premier of Cavalli's Artemisia (Helios Opera, Boston). She has been praised for her irreverent, post-modern, imaginative and quirky visual style by online and print publications such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix, San Francisco Chronicle, and Toronto's Barcza Blog.

John Elam

(Cleburne, Texas)

John Elam is currently serving as Musical Associate for the 2016-17 Season at Tri-Cities Opera, where he is chorusmaster and assistant conductor for upcoming productions of La Traviata and Hansel und Gretel under the baton of Vlad Iftinca, as well as assistant conductor for Ravel's L'Heure Espagnol and Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox. Elam began his collegiate study at Baylor University before getting his M.M. and D.M.A. in collaborative piano as a student of Martin Katz at the University of Michigan. Dr. Elam has served on music staff at Music in the Marche and Opera in the Ozarks, playing for productions of Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Into the Woods, and Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Recital venues include Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas, Orchestra Hall in Detroit, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and the Castello Brancaleoni in Piobbico, Italy. He has also worked as a coach with the Michigan Opera Theater and was an Apprentice Coach in the 2016 Merola Opera Program.

Ronny Michael Greenberg

(Montreal, Canada)

Pianist Ronny Michael Greenberg is a second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow and participant of the 2014 Merola Opera Program, where he prepared A Streetcar Named Desire and Don Giovanni. His engagements range from guest soloist appearances with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra to concerts in venues such as the Canadian Museum of Civilization for the Glenn Gould Exhibit, Steinway Hall as part of Yale in New York, and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall as part of the Worldstrides Heritage Performance Programs. Greenberg holds degrees from the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York, Potsdam and Manhattan School of Music, and he has been a participant with Music Academy of the West, New York Opera Studio, and Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. He participated in The Song Continues Master Class series with Marilyn Horne, Jessye Norman and Dalton Baldwin in 2013.

Jennifer Szeto

(Calgary, Canada)

Jennifer Szeto was most recently an Apprentice Coach in the 2016 Merola Opera Program, where she prepared productions of Mozart's Così fan Tutte and Conrad Susa's Transformations, as well as the Merola Grand Finale. From 2014-2016, she was a member of Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, where she assisted in seven productions including La Traviata, Siegfried, Le Nozze di Figaro and Carmen. She has been featured in recital numerous times alongside fellow Ensemble Studio members, as part of the COC Richard Bradshaw Free Concert Series. Szeto was also a Resident Young Artist with Opera de Montréal's Atelier Lyrique, and has held staff positions with Tel Aviv's International Vocal Arts Institute, the Canadian Vocal Arts Institute in Montreal, Calgary Opera's Opera in the Village, Halifax Summer Opera Workshop, Cowtown Summer Opera Academy, and Toronto's MYOpera. Szeto holds a Masters of Music in Piano Accompaniment from McGill University, and she received additional training from University of Toronto (Bachelor of Music Performance), Green Mountain Opera Festival in Vermont, and the Franz Schubert Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, Austria.

About San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program

San Francisco Opera Center was created in 1982 by then-General Director Terence A. McEwen to oversee the operation and administration of the education and training programs initiated by Kurt Herbert Adler in 1954. Providing a coordinated sequence of performance and study opportunities for young artists, San Francisco Opera Center represents a new era in which young artists of major operatic potential can develop through intensive training and performance, under the aegis of a major international opera company. Under the guidance of San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald and San Francisco Opera General Director Matthew Shilvock, the Opera Center has trained and introduced many young stars from around the world to the international opera stage through its resident artist programs.

Initially founded as the San Francisco Opera/Affiliate Artists program in 1975, the Adler Fellowship Program is one of the nation's most prestigious performance-oriented residencies for the most advanced young singers and pianists. Each year, Adler Fellows are sponsored by individual donors and institutional funders to help cover the cost of their fellowship, and sponsors affiliated with the Adler Program have the opportunity to attend private studio classes with the Fellows and develop nurturing relationships with them. Alumni from the Adler Fellowship Program include sopranos Jane Archibald, Susannah Biller, Leah Crocetto, Heidi Melton, Melody Moore, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, Ruth Ann Swenson, Elza van den Heever and Deborah Voigt; mezzo-sopranos Zheng Cao, Kendall Gladen, Daveda Karanas, Maya Lahyani, Daniela Mack, Renée Tatum and Dolora Zajick; countertenors Brian Asawa, Ryan Belongie and Gerald Thompson; tenors Andrew Bidlack, Brian Jagde, Daniel Montenegro, Matthew O'Neill, Sean Panikkar, Alek Shrader and Noah Stewart; baritones Eugene Brancoveanu, Alfredo Daza, Mark Delavan, Austin Kness, Lucas Meachem and James Westman; bass-baritones Joshua Bloom, Ryan Kuster, John Relyea, Philip Skinner, Daniel Sumegi and Dale Travis; and basses John Ames and Kenneth Kellogg.

One of the oldest and most acclaimed training programs of its kind, the Merola Opera Program for aspiring opera professionals offers up-and-coming singers, pianists and stage directors the opportunity of intense study and performance during an eleven-week summer program. Named for San Francisco Opera's first general director, Gaetano Merola, the program began during the 1954-55 Season and established its full training program in 1957. Alumni of the program include Sylvia McNair, Anna Netrebko, Patricia Racette, Ruth Ann Swenson, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Brian Asawa, Thomas Hampson, Rolando Villazón, and Patrick Summers. An independent non-profit organization, the Merola Opera Program operates in collaboration with San Francisco Opera Center and San Francisco Opera.

For more information on the San Francisco Opera Center and the Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program, visit and

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