Backstage at San Francisco Opera > February 2012 > Going for Three
Going for Three
As a native New Yorker, if someone had told me 3 years ago that I'd be working with the San Francisco Opera today, I'd have thought they were crazy. But, here I am, in California, having graduated from Merola and finished with my 2nd year as an Adler, and a lot has changed. One could say it has actually jump-started my career in singing because the past 2 years as an Adler were the first that I've sustained my income solely from singing. I've been coached into many roles, been given the time to learn a technique that works for me, and worked with a lot of the people we call stars in the opera business.

When I first got offered the chance to join the Adler Program, my decision came down to a few key things: technique, working with my agent, mainstage roles, and income. My background experience singing as a baritone meant that I had only been a tenor for a year (I switched only 6 weeks before my Merola Audition the year earlier). I had to decide whether I could leave New York City for two years and still develop my technique.  As a new tenor, any of the work I had done earlier as a baritone made little difference, because I had yet to prove whether I could sing an entire role as a tenor. [Right: Brian as Janek in 2010's The Makropulos Case with Karita Mattila. Photo by Cory Weaver.]
After getting answers to my questions, I decided that the best move for me would be a move indeed.  2586 miles west to be exact!  I knew that, even though I had only been a tenor for a short while, I had a stable grounding from my teacher in NYC and would have the opportunity to continue taking lessons and coachings back home as well as locally.
SF Opera’s staff assured me that they would not want to take away the outside work that could further my career.  They assured me of some enticing opportunities on the mainstage and, when I considered the amount that Adlers get paid and the cost of lessons, coachings, and other classes, it seemed that despite the net gains or losses the opportunity was definitely worthwhile. 
The Adler program has been very good to me.  I've studied roles, received coaching and preparation for local jobs and opportunities abroad.  I've had the opportunity to sing leading roles for regional companies, and even travel to Europe for work.  I've performed 5 roles on the main stage with SF Opera, and covered 6 roles, including Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Dan Hill in Heart of a Soldier, and Don José in Carmen.  [Above: Brian as Don José in 2011's Carmen for Families. Photo by D. Ross Cameron.]
Four months after I covered Pinkerton here in SF, I was singing it at Virginia Opera and I'll be reprising the role with Minnesota Opera and Intermountain Opera Bozeman in 2012.  Last month, only 2 months after I finished covering Don José here, I performed it with Fresno Grand Opera.
And now for the big news!  It looks like the 2 years paid off because I will be returning for a 3rd!  I have been offered a return contract to be a 3rd year Adler.  I'll continue my training and studies, and make my debut in a starring role next fall.  I’ve been offered a chance to sing in SF Opera’s production of Tosca as Cavaradossi, my dream role!  I couldn't ask for a bigger honor and a better way to show what I've learned.
I'm really looking forward to being here in San Francisco for another year.   I couldn't be more grateful to this city and to this program, to which I owe so much.  After two years, I've jump-started my career, made friends, formed important relationships in the business, and improved dramatically as an artist.  Here's to another year! [Right: Brian as Joe in 2010's La Fanciulla del West with Deborah Voigt. Photo by Cory Weaver.]
To see full version of blog go to and click on Brian's Blog.
Posted: 2/1/2012 3:28:28 PM by Brian Jagde (Adler Fellow)
Filed under: 2012-13Season, Adler, singer


Backstage at San Francisco Opera is a fascinating, fast-moving, mysterious and sacred space for the Company’s singers, musicians, dancers, technicians and production crews. Musical and staging rehearsals are on-going, scenery is loaded in and taken out, lighting cues are set, costumes and wigs are moved around and everything is made ready to receive the audience. From the principal singers, chorus and orchestra musicians to the creative teams for each opera, in addition to the many talented folks who don’t take a bow on stage, this blog offers unique insight, both thought-provoking and light-hearted, into the life backstage at San Francisco Opera.


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