By Iride Aparicio  

Photos Courtesy: S.F. Opera

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Since created on August 30, 1953, by founder and first General Director of the San Francisco Opera, Gaetano Merola, as a Merola Opera Program, a unique opera program that covers all the  levels of opera production but have, at its primary focus, the training and developing of the finest young opera singers, coaches, and stage directors  from around the world, in all the levels of opera, the Schwabacher Recital Series, which are concerts presented by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, will return to San Francisco with four recitals. The first two concerts to be held from March 1st to March 22, at San Francisco's Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater,and the other two, on April 12 and on May 18. at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music's Barbro Osher Recital Hall
The recital series will present a number of emerging artists from around the glove, performing an eclectic selection of song literature and new works in the intimacy of a recital setting.



The Schwabacher Recitals will open on March 1, with a program focusing on songs sang in German, French and Chinese with two former Merola alumni sharing the stage: Soprano Meigui Zhang (2018) and pianist John Churchwell (1996). Both artists are also now graduates of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

MEIGUI  ZHANG  made her San Francisco Opera debut in the Summer 2022, as Dai Yu in Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's opera Dream of the Red Chamber and returned last November in another role debut in Gluck's Orpheus and Eurydice, garnering praise from Opera News as a "touching expressive, plush-voiced Eurydice." The Chinese soprano is also a subject of an episode of the company's award-winning video portrait series In Song, and as a Merola participant,playing the role of Anne Trulove in the Rake's Progress. Her Metropolitan Opera appearances include roles in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Verdi's Macbeth and Don Carlos.

San Francisco Opera's Head of Music Staff John Churchwell was recently appointed codirector, with Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, of the Lehrer Vocal Institute at Santa Barbara Music Academy of the West. He has assisted on more than 140 productions, and collaborated with the world's leading conductors, including Eun Sun Kim, Nicola Luisotti, Donald Runnicles , James Conlon, Marco Armiriato and Fabio Luisi and was an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera.  He has collaborated in recitals with many acclaimed artists, notably Renée Fleming, Joyce Di Donato, Susan Graham, Lawrence Brownlee, Lisette Oropesa, Isabel Leonard and Michael Babiano

The second Schwabacher recital on March 22 will feature five second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and Merola Alumni. They are: Soprano Kayla Sager and Mezzo Soprano Gabrielle Beteag, tenors Victor Cardamone and Edward Graves and pianist Marika Yasuda. The artists will perform rarely heard musical selections, in a program created by tenor Nicholas Phan, that spans from Brahms, Schumann and Monteverdi, to Pauline Viardot, Nora Holt and Ruth Crawford Seeger.


Canadian soprano Mikayula Sager first appeared with the Company in the Eun Sun Kim Conducts Verdi concert last summer and returned to the War Memorial Opera House stage in October as Sister Felicity in Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmeliges. She was awarded the 2022 Maria Manetti Shrem Prize at the Festival Napa Valley, where she performed the role of Giannetta in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore. This spring, Sager will share the role of Mimi in San Francisco Opera's upcoming touring production of Bohéme Out of the Box.

Mezzo-Soprano GABRIELLE BETEAG first bowed with San Francisco Opera in Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang's Dream of the Red Chamber in 1922 during the Company's Centennial Season. Beteag created the role of Iras in the world premiere of John Adams' Antony and Cleopatra, and made her role debut as Sister Gertrude in Dialogues of the Carmelites. Prior to the Adler Fellowship Program Beteag was a studio Player at Atlanta Opera, and in 2020 was a Grand Finals Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions


As a first-year Adler Fellow in 2022, tenor Victor Cardamone made his San Francisco Opera debut in Dream of the Red Chamber. Beginning next month, he will share the role of Rodolfo, with Tenor Edward Graves in San Francisco Opera's Boheme Out of the Box. He has performed with Cincinnati Opera, Opera Columbus, Worlf Trap Opera and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has also been a member of Opera Fusion: New Works, and participated in the first workshops/studio recordings for Matthew Aucoin's Erudice, Scott Davenport Richards' Blind Injustice, and Kevin Puts' The Hours.
This spring, tenor Edward Graves .shares the role of Rodolfo in the San Francisco Opera's Boheme out of the Box which will tour throughout the Bay area. Graves made his two roles debuts with the Company in Dream of the Red Chamber and most recently as Gastone in a new production of La Traviata, He created the role of Policeman 2 in Jeanine Tesori and Tazewell Thompson's Blud at The Glimmerglass Festival, which he reprised in Detroit Opera. Later this year, he made his Soleto Festival USA debut as Anatol in Barber's Vanessa


Pianist and vocal coach Marika Yasuda is a recent graduate of the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University, where she is a doctoral candidate in Collaborative Piano. She has served on productions of the Barber of Seville, La Boheme, Gianni Cicci, West Side Story and Mason Bates and Mark Campbell's the Revolution of Steve Jobs. In 2022. She was on music staff for San Francisco Opera's production of Dream of the Red Chamber and La Traviata, and later this spring will perform in Boheme Out of the Box.

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Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen     Carrie-Ann Matherson

On April 12, 2023, The Schwabacher series will showcase the artistry of Countertenor Aryeh Nusshaun Cohen and pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson; Their Program will feature songs by Max Janowski, Erroll Garner, Maurice Ravel and George Frideri Hander among others.

Acclaimed as a "complete artist" by the New York Times tenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen was a winner of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He joined the Merola Opera Program in 2016, was an Adler Fellow in 2018 and 2019, and made his company debut starring as Medoro in Handel's Orlando. His first commercial recording --Kevin Fuch's Poems of Life with the London Symphony Orchestra, won the 2019 Grammy Award in the Best Classical Compendium category. A highly-Enough-after opera and concert soloist, his recent and future engagements include performances with the Bavarian State Opera, Komische Opera Berlin, Glyndxhourne Festival and the Metropolitan Opera.


The final Schwabacher Recitals highlights the deep artistic collaboration of Mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner and Pianist Shawn Chang. The 2022 Merola Opera Program participants designed the program everything must change, as a call to action as proclaimed through the music of Shawn Chang, Franz Schubert, Stefanie Turkewich, Viktor Ulman, Radiohead and Bernard Ighner

Erin Wagner                Shawn Chang

During her time in Merola, Mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner performed the Second Lady in Die Zaube flüte and scenes from Ariadne auf Naxos, Carmen and Aidanamar.  She is currently a member of Houston Grand Opera Studio, where her engagements include Dame Ethyl Smyth's The Wreckers, Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, and Strauss' Salome. Wagner has been featured in recital at Carnegie Hall, The Kaufman Center and the Kennedy Center. She returns to Aspen Music Festival as a Renée Fleming Artist, performing in Mozart's Idomeneo and Schubert's songs.
Taiwainese-Canadian pianist and composer Shawn Chang, was named one of the 2020 Schawaher Rising stars of the Caramoor Music Festival and has accompanied winner of Young Concert Artist, tenor Daniel McGrew and winner of the Naumberg Vocal Competition, Mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner. As the result of Chang and Wagner collaboration at Carnegie Hal, focused on the collective and individual experiences brought on by the COVID-l9 pandemic, they will return under the auspices of the Naumburg Foundation, premiering a song cycle by Errolyn Wallern. On his part, Chang has appeared frequently with pianist Steven Blier in concerts presented by the New York Festival of Song at the Kaufman Center. Chang's song cycle Portraits of Unrelated Colors, won the commission prize of the 2022 Sparks and Wiry Cries. At his concert in S.F. he will be performing his commissioned song cycle Us Now.

For ticket information: call (415) 865-330 or purchase them at the San Francisco Opera Box Office located at 301 Van Ness Avenue, in S.F. or online at: