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One of the oldest and most prestigious opera training programs in the world, Merola was founded in 1957, and named in honor of San Francisco Opera's first general director, Gaetano Merola. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration with San Francisco Opera, but is a financially independent nonprofit organization governed by its own Board of Directors. Merola is responsible for its own fundraising, primarily from loyal members and foundations.
The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, coaches, accompanists, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow and offers outreach through educational programs for students and the general public.