San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Announce 2022 Schwabacher Recital Series

The series opens on March 15 with a program dedicated to the wide spectrum of gender expression in song.

By: Feb. 02, 2022

San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Announce 2022 Schwabacher Recital Series

Now in its 38th year, the Schwabacher Recital Series, presented by San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program, returns Tuesday, March 15. The series of four recitals (March 15, April 6, April 27 and July 28) at San Francisco's Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater and San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall presents emerging artists from around the globe in the intimacy of a recital setting,

The series opens on March 15 with a program dedicated to the wide spectrum of gender expression in song. Two 2021 participants of the Merola Opera Program, mezzo-soprano Nikola Printz and pianist Erica Xiaoyan Guo, will share the stage with guitarist Tatiana Senderowicz.

Printz described their concept for the concert: "This program is a love letter to all forms of gender expression told with a narrative or finding and flailing through the thin veil between femininity, masculinity and all that glitters in between. Like breaking the binary-I wanted to step out of the traditional mold of recitals and put my story in three parts. I like to think of it like an opera where the main character I am playing is myself!"

The first part of the program, "La Premiere Femme," explores femininity in the works of Barbara Strozzi, Gioachino Rossini, Alma Mahler and David Lang. Part two, "Masc-era," features the works of Ned Rorem, Franz Schubert and new arrangements of Ranchera pieces with guitar inspired by the great Ranchera singer Chavela Vargas who, with her low, sultry voice, broke the mold of the masculine way of singing in this genre. The recital's final act, "Neutrois," will be the "fluid" section-music that feels like it transcends gender, including Benjamin Britten's Cabaret songs, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Drei liede and Prince's "Nothing compares to you."

Nikola Printz, most recently seen as Dido in Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Opera San José, was praised by Opera News for their "big, opulent tone and easy reach into the high register." They are scheduled to take on the title role of Carmen this month, also with Opera San José. Pianist Erica Xiaoyan Guo has spent over a decade performing internationally as a solo pianist, collaborative pianist and chamber musician. Currently she is pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Maryland and will be on the music staff at Santa Fe Opera this summer. Guitarist and lutenist Tatiana Senderowicz is a solo and chamber musician who played guitar and electric bass in the American premiere of Opera Parallèle's production of Tarik O'Regan's Heart of Darkness. In addition to working with Baroque ensembles throughout the Bay Area, Senderowicz also plays in a harmonica-guitar duo with her husband, Alan Lopez, exploring Latin, folk, popular and classical styles.

The second 2022 Schwabacher recital, on April 6, features mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, a 2018-19 Adler Fellow and 2015/2017 Merola Opera Program participant, who has performed in such San Francisco Opera mainstage productions as Carmen, Rusalka, Manon Lescaut and Hansel and Gretel.

Her performance at the 2019 The Future Is Now concert earned her rave reviews, with the San Francisco Chronicle observing: "She's got a robust instrument full of beguiling vocal colors ... as well as the formidable technical command to unleash streams of glittering coloratura with precision and panache."

Dixon made her Los Angeles Opera debut in 2020 as Sara in Roberto Devereux and future engagements include Annino in La Clemenza di Tito at the Ravinia Festival, Carmen in Hawaii Opera Theatre's production of The Tragedy of Carmen and Adalgisa in Norma with Festival Opera.

Joining Dixon on stage is pianist and collaborator Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad, who recently finished her third year as an Adler Fellow. As an Adler Fellow, she was part of the music staff for Carmen, Manon Lescaut, Fidelio and Così fan tutte. She was a 2018 participant of the Merola Opera Program. This season she joins the music staff of both San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera.

For this recital, Dixon and Barrad will tackle an array of works, with particular emphasis on the French and Spanish repertoire. Featured composers include Claude Debussy, Reynaldo Hahn, Manuel De Falla and Carlos Guastavino.

The third recital, on April 27, will showcase four 2019 Merola Opera Program participants and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows soprano Esther Tonea, baritone Timothy Murray, bass Stefan Egerstrom and pianist Andrew King performing works by Jean Sibelius, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Tom Cipullo.

Praised for her "dramatic excellence, flexibility, and beauty of her singing" by Classical Voice North America, Romanian American soprano Esther Tonea created the role of Diana in Merola Opera Program's world premiere of Jake Heggie's opera If I Were You. The San Francisco Chronicle hailed her "... magnificent singing-an ardent, tonally plush performance." In February 2021, she workshopped Heggie's newest opera, Intelligence, as Callie Van Lew.

Heralded for his "firm, flexible baritone" (New York Times) and "swaggering, rakish" stage presence (Opera News), Timothy Murray bowed with the Company for the first time this past fall, portraying Sciarrone in Tosca. As a participant in the 2019 Merola Opera Program, he created the role of Paul in Heggie's If I Were You.

Third-year Adler Fellow Stefan Egerstrom made his San Francisco Opera debut as the jailer in Tosca and appeared in the Company's new production of Fidelio as the second prisoner. With Queen City Opera, he performed Hunding in Die Walküre and King René in Iolanta.

Pianist Andrew King studied under Warren Jones at the Manhattan School of Music. As an apprentice coach with the Merola Opera Program, he helped prepare the world premiere of Heggie's If I Were You under the baton of Nicole Paiement.

The final Schwabacher recital shines a spotlight on the artistry of baritone Sidney Outlaw and acclaimed pianist Warren Jones. The program will focus on their latest collaboration, a new album that pays homage to 20th-century American song entitled Lament, featuring works by Ricky Ian Gordon, Robert Owens, Dorothy Rudd Moore, Harry T. Burleigh and the words of Langston Hughes.

Baritone Sidney Outlaw (Merola '10) has performed in productions of Billy Budd with San Francisco Opera and John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer at the Metropolitan Opera. He has also portrayed Salieri in Rimsky-Korsakov's Mozart and Salieri, Jake in Porgy and Bess, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Marcello in La Bohème. He is currently on faculty at Ithaca College's James J. Whalen School of Music.

In addition to his remarkable catalog as a recording artist, Warren Jones has been a celebrated recital partner to opera stars, from Stephanie Blythe and Kathleen Battle to Samuel Ramey and Thomas Hampson. As a dedicated educator, he has served on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and as a guest artist in residence at the New England Conservatory and University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Tickets for general seating are $30; a series package for all four recitals is $100. Tickets can be purchased at the San Francisco Opera Box Office (301 Van Ness Avenue) in person, by phone at (415) 864-3330 and online at Please note: The four-recital package is available only in-person or by phone. Student rush tickets, subject to availability, are available for $15 at each venue 30 minutes prior to each recital. (Limit of two tickets per person; valid ID is required.) Artists, programs, schedules and ticket prices are subject to change.

The first three recitals take place at 7:30 p.m. at the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater, a state-of-the-art performance venue utilizing the Constellation acoustic system from Berkeley-based Meyer Sound. The Taube Atrium Theater is part of San Francisco Opera's Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, located on the fourth floor of the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco.

The final recital, on July 28, takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street in San Francisco.

Beginning February 1, San Francisco Opera requires all patrons aged 12 and older, who are eligible, to show proof of booster shot received at least 7 days prior to the event or performance, in addition to proof of full vaccination (defined as two weeks after your final shot), along with a matching photo ID. In addition, starting February 1, we will now require all children ages 5 to 11 to show proof of full vaccination (defined as two weeks after their final shot). Unvaccinated children are not permitted.

All patrons must wear well-fitted masks that cover their nose, mouth and chin when inside the facility unless they are actively eating or drinking. A non-vented N95 mask is strongly recommended as a well-fitted mask to provide maximum protection. A well-fitted mask does not include a scarf, ski mask, balaclava, bandana, turtleneck collar, single layer of fabric or any mask that has an unfiltered one-way exhaust valve. For complete information about the Company's health and safety protocols, visit

To ensure flexibility for patrons in this transitional season, no-fee exchanges will be accepted up to two hours before performances. Refunds will be available if patrons must miss the concert due to COVID. Refund requests must be made at least two hours before the performance.

The Schwabacher Recital Series is endowed in perpetuity by the generosity of celebrated Bay Area singer, scholar and teacher James Schwabacher and sponsored by the Merola Opera Program.

Yamaha is the official piano of San Francisco Opera. Pianos are generously provided by Piedmont Piano Company.

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