Merola Opera Program

Opera Companies
Music/Artistic Director:
Carrie-Ann Matheson, Artistic Director; Patrick Wilken, Chairman; Barbara Bruser Clark, President; Jean Kellogg, Executive Director


What they do best:

The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for young professional singers, pianists, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow, presents operatic works that reach a diverse audience, and provides opportunities and access to students and local community groups.

Named for San Francisco Opera’s first general director, Gaetano Merola, the Merola Opera Program began during the 1954-55 season and established its full training program in 1957. Each fall, more than 1,000 young artists apply to the Program. During the 12-week, all-expenses-paid summer training program, they have the rare opportunity of studying, coaching, and participating in master classes with established professionals. Participants also perform in a range of productions, including the Schwabacher Summer Concert, a fully staged opera, and the Merola Grand Finale, all with full orchestra.

Merola has served as a proving ground for hundreds of artists including Leona Mitchell, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, Karen Slack, Elza van den Heever, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, Zheng Cao, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Brian Jagde, Stuart Skelton, Noah Stewart, Rolando Villazón, Thomas Hampson, Quinn Kelsey, Lucas Meachem, and Patrick Summers, among many others. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration with San Francisco Opera but is an independent nonprofit organization, governed by a separate board of directors. Merola is responsible for its own fundraising, primarily from loyal members and foundations.

Merola provides a nurturing environment for young opera artists of the highest caliber to hone their skills and invites passionate supporters to be part of the journey. For information on the Merola Opera Program, please visit

Where to hear them:

Various SF locations. The Merola Grand Finale is held at the War Memorial Opera House.

Learn More:

Merola Opera Program

Merola Opera Program

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