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San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Announce 2023 Schwabacher Recital Series

Opening on March 1, Four Recitals Showcase Rising Artists in Intimate Musical Programs

Tickets available at sfopera.com/srs and (415) 864-3330

2023 Schwabacher Recital Series.pdf   Photos

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 2, 2023) — Now in its 39th year, the Schwabacher Recital Series, presented by San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, returns this spring with a series of four recitals (March 1, March 22, April 12 and May 18) at San Francisco’s Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater and San Francisco Conservatory of Music’s Barbro Osher Recital Hall. The series presents emerging and esteemed artists from around the globe, performing an eclectic selection of song literature and new works in the intimacy of a recital setting,



The series opens on March 1 with a program focusing on songs in German, French and Chinese. Two Merola alumni will share the stage: soprano Meigui Zhang (2018) and pianist John Churchwell (1996). They are also both graduates of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Meigui Zhang made her San Francisco Opera debut in Summer 2022 as Dai Yu in Bright Sheng and David Henry Hwang’s 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 “touchingly expressive, plush-voiced Eurydice.” The Chinese soprano is also the subject of an episode of the Company’s award-winning video portrait series, In Song. As a Merola participant, she performed 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 co-director, with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, of the Lehrer Vocal Institute at Santa Barbara’s 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 Armiliato and Fabio Luisi and was an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. He has collaborated in recital with many acclaimed artists, notably Renée Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Lawrence Brownlee, Lisette Oropesa, Isabel Leonard and Michael Fabiano.  



Curated by Nicholas Phan

The second 2022 Schwabacher recital, on March 22, features five second-year San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows and Merola alumni: soprano Mikayla Sager, 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 curated by tenor Nicholas Phan that spans from Brahms, Schumann and Monteverdi to Pauline Viardot, Nora Holt and Ruth Crawford Seeger.

Canadian soprano Mikayla 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 Carmelites. She was awarded the 2022 Maria Manetti Shrem Prize at 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 Mimì in San Francisco Opera’s upcoming touring production of Bohème 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 2022. 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 shares the role of Rodolfo with Edward Graves in San Francisco Opera’s Bohème Out of the Box. He has also performed with Cincinnati Opera, Opera Columbus, Wolf Trap Opera and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. He has been a member of Opera Fusion: New Works and participated in the first workshops/studio recordings for Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice, Scott Davenport Richards’ Blind Injustice and Kevin Puts’ The Hours

This spring, tenor Edward Graves shares the role of Rodolfo in San Francisco Opera’s Bohème Out of the Box which will tour throughout the Bay Area. Graves made role 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 Blue at The Glimmerglass Festival, which he reprised in Detroit Opera. Later this year he makes his Spoleto 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 at Indiana University where she is a doctoral candidate in Collaborative Piano. She has served on productions of The Barber of Seville, La Bohème, Gianni Schicchi, West Side Story and Mason Bates and Mark Campbell’s The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs. In 2022, she was on music staff for San Francisco Opera’s productions of Dream of the Red Chamber and La Traviata and later this spring will perform at Bohème Out of the Box.   

Nicholas Phan is a Grammy-nominated American tenor who is recognized as an opera and concert soloist and an avid recitalist. Co-founder of Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization devoted to promoting underserved repertoire, Phan is also a sought-after curator and programmer. He has created programs for Merola Opera Program, San Francisco Performances, WFMT, WQXR, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and Bravo! Vail Music Festival. His programs often examine themes of identity, highlight unfairly underrepresented voices from history and strive to underline the relevance of music from all periods to the currents of the present day.



On April 12, the Schwabacher series will showcase the artistry of countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and pianist Carrie-Ann Matheson. Their program will feature songs by Max Janowski, Erroll Garner, Maurice Ravel and George Frideric Handel, among others.

Acclaimed as a “complete artist” by The New York Times, 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 Orchestrawon the 2019 Grammy Award in the Best Classical Compendium category. A highly sought-after opera and concert soloist, recent and future engagements include performances with the Bavarian State Opera, Komische Oper Berlin, Glyndebourne Festival and the Metropolitan Opera.

San Francisco Opera Center Artistic Director Carrie-Ann Matheson has a multi-faceted international career as a pianist, conductor and educator. Matheson was a tenured member of the Metropolitan Opera’s full-time music staff as assistant conductor, prompter and vocal coach before joining the conducting and coaching staff at Opernhaus Zürich in 2014. Especially in demand as a recital pianist, she has collaborated with opera’s greatest luminaries, including Rolando Villazón, Jonas Kaufmann, Piotr Beczała, Benjamin Bernheim, Diana Damrau, Thomas Hampson and Joyce DiDonato.



The final Schwabacher recital 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 Ullman, Radiohead and Bernard Ighner. 

During her time in Merola, Erin Wagner performed the Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte and scenes from Ariadne auf Naxos, Carmen and Ainadamar. 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 songs by Schubert.

Taiwainese-Canadian pianist and composer Shawn Chang was named one of the 2020 Schwab Rising Stars of the Caramoor Music Festival and has accompanied winner of Young Concert Artists, tenor Daniel McGrew and winner of the Naumberg Vocal Competition, mezzo-soprano Erin Wagner. As a result of Wagner and Chang’s collaboration at Carnegie Hall focused on the collective and individual experiences brough on by the COVID-19 pandemic, they will return under the auspices of the Naumburg Foundation, premiering a song cycle by Errollyn Wallen. 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 & Wiry Cries. His commissioned song cycle Us Now, which premiered at the January 2023 songSLAM festival, will be performed.

For the complete press release, including calendar and programs, open the PDF version above.