Backstage at San Francisco Opera > February 2013 > Meet the Artists: Secret Garden
Meet the Artists: Secret Garden
We're counting down the days until we open our world-premiere production of Nolan Gasser's The Secret Garden and rehearsals here at San Francisco Opera are about to head over the Bay Bridge to Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley.  We're thrilled to be co-presenting this work with Cal Performances and we've lined up an exciting young cast who will be bringing this beloved childhood tale to life.  Find out a little bit more about the Secret Garden cast in today's blog post. 

SARAH SHAFER - Mary Lennox
Sarah is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and hails from State College, PA.  She makes her SFO Debut playing the 10 year-old Mary Lennox (though Sarah is an adult!).  Past credits include Barbarina in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro at the Glyndebourne Festival (where she also covered Susanna) and Adina is Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore at Opera Memphis.  Her past operatic credits with Curtis Opera Theatre include Rosina in Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia; Giulietta in Bellini's I Capuleti e i Montecchi; and Elizabeth Zimmer in Henze's Elegy for Young Lovers.  She will be seen as Papagena in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Opera Philadelphia this spring and will spend the summer as a resident artist at the Marlboro Music Festival.   

Michael has been making the rounds performing nearly every major operatic role written for a young boy at stages including Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Portland Opera, and New York City Opera.  His past credits include Miles in Britten's Turn of the Screw; Amahl in Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors; Yniold in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande; Charlie in the world-premiere production of The Golden Ticket; and Arthur in Stephen Schwartz's Séance on a Wet Afternoon.  14 year-old Michael lives in Portland, Oregon with his family and is making his SFO Debut in the role of the sickly young boy Colin Craven.  Michael is an alumnus of the Portland Boychoir and when he is not traveling the country performing in opera he can be seen on stage with the Northwest Children's Theater where he was recently named "Outstanding Young Performer."

SCOTT JOINER - Dickon Sowerby
Tenor Scott Joiner is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and makes his SFO Debut as the whimsical and mischevious Dickon Sowerby.  As a resident artist with Asheville Lyric Opera he performed the roles of Borsa in Verdi's Rigoletto; Nemorino in Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore; Basilio/Don Curzio in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro; Ferrando in Mozart's Così fan tutte; Goro in Puccini's Madama Butterfly; and Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. He was a 2009 Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and he currently resides in Easton, PA.

LAURA KRUMM - Martha Sowerby
2nd Year Adler Fellow, Laura Krumm, is a 2011 graduate of the Merola Opera Program and hails from Iowa City, Iowa.  She made her SFO Debut this past fall in the role of Countess Ceprano in Verdi's Rigoletto and was also a featured soloist in this past year's Stern Grove Festival Concert.  She is a graduate of the University of North Texas and Luther College.  Laura was featured in the world-premiere of Jack Perla's Love/Hate at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.    

PHILIPPE SLY - Archibald Craven
1st Year Adler Fellow, Philippe Sly, is a 2011 graduate of the Merola Opera Program and is originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  He is a 2011 Grand Finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and also 1st Place Winner of the Montréal International Music Competition and is a graduate of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University.  Prior to his Adler Fellowship, Philippe was a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble, where he performed the roles of Hermann in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann and a Scythian Man in Glück's Iphigénie en Tauride.  Philippe recently released his debut recording on the Analekta label and will be seen this coming season in the role of Guglielmo in Mozart's Così fan tutte.   

ERIN JOHNSON - Mrs. Medlock
Erin is a 1st Year Adler Fellow and makes her SFO Debut as the Yorkshire housekeeper Mrs. Medlock.  Erin is a native of Washington, New Jersey and is a graduate of Rice University and Cairns University.  Erin has participated as an Apprentice Artist at the Santa Fe Opera as well as the 2012 Merola Opera Program.  This coming season, Erin will be seen this summer in the world-premiere production of Mark Adamo's The Gospel of Mary Magdalene.

AO LI - Ben Weatherstaff
Entering his 3rd Year as an Adler Fellow, Chinese baritone Ao Li portrays the jolly old gardener Ben Weatherstaff.  A graduate of the 2010 Merola Opera Program, Ao has been seen on the War Memorial Opera House stage in featured roles in Bellini's Capuleti e i Montecchi; Puccini's Tosca; Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia; and Carmen for Families.  Ao will be seen this summer season in the role of Luther in Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann

MARINA HARRIS - Susan Sowerby 
Marina is a 2nd Year Adler Fellow from Los Angeles, California.  She was a featured soloist in the 2012 Opera in the Park Concert and was also featured in the world-premiere production of Jack Perla's Love/Hate at the ODC Theater.  Marina was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is a graduate of California State University Long Beach.

Posted: 2/15/2013 11:34:19 AM by San Francisco Opera
Filed under: 2012-13Season, Adler, children, education, new-works, SecretGarden, 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.


Blog postsRSS