San Francisco Opera Names Adler Fellows for 2019

Janos Gereben on November 8, 2018
The Class of 2018 Adler Fellows, five to continue in the program next year | Credit: Cheshire Isaacs

For the 41st year, San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship has named participants in the program, which has assisted scores of young artists on their way to important careers.

Selected from the Merola Opera Program, the new Adler Fellows are:

  • Soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley, from Long Beach, NY
  • Mezzo Simone McIntosh, Vancouver, Canada
  • Tenor Zhengyi Bai, Linyi, China
  • Tenor Christopher Colmenero, Burlington, VT
  • Tenor Christopher Oglesby, Woodstock, GA
  • Baritone SeokJong Baek, Jeon-Ju, South Korea
  • Apprentice coach Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad, Kyiv, Ukraine

Continuing in the program for the second year are:

  • Soprano Natalie Image, Tsawwassen, Canada
  • Mezzo Ashley Dixon, Peachtree City, GA
  • Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, Brooklyn, NY
  • Bass-baritone Christian Pursell, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Apprentice coach César Cañón, Bogotá, Colombia

Leaving the program at the end of 2018 are soprano Sarah Cambidge, tenors Amitai Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven, baritone Andrew Manea, pianist/apprentice coach John Elam, and director Aria Umezawa.

Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen continues as an Adler Fellow for the second year | Courtesy: San Francisco Opera

The class of 2018 will be on display at the annual Adlers showcase concert, “The Future Is Now,” Dec. 8, in Herbst Theater. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra will be led by Christopher Franklin, who made his SFO debut last season with Turandot.

Among the more than 180 Adler alumni are such opera luminaries as sopranos Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, and Deborah Voigt; mezzo-sopranos Maya Lahyani and Dolora Zajick; tenors Brian Jagde and Alek Shrader; baritones Mark Delavan and James Westman.

The multiyear performance-oriented residency, named for the late SFO General Director Kurt Herbert Adler, offers intensive individual training, coaching, and professional seminars, as well as a wide range of performance opportunities.

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald, who manages the Adler program, said at the announcement that every January, it is “very exciting to welcome a new group of singers and pianists to the Adler program. And with three tenors on the roster this year, it will surely be an exciting ride.

Mezzo Simone McIntosh is a first-year Adler Fellow | Courtesy: San Francisco Opera

“I look forward to watching all of them navigate the language, acting, dance and stage combat classes, and then working to synthesize it all for their main stage assignments later in the season. Young artist programs are the finishing schools for singers and pianists. They’ve learned how to put the ‘soufflé’ together, and now it has to bake—may they all rise to the heavens!”

The Adler 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 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.