Merola Opera Program

Named for Gaetano Merola, San Francisco Opera's first General Director, the Merola Opera Program is dedicated to seeking out the finest young opera talent and helping those singers develop into professional artists of the highest caliber.  Following a rigorous annual audition process of more than 800 young hopefuls, the program invites approximately 23 singers, five coaches and one stage director to participate in its summer apprenticeship. Their training includes both classes and public performances that are designed to give the selected artists a comprehensive education at this early point in their careers. Many graduates of the Merola program, or "Merolini" as they are affectionately known, have gone on to international careers including such renowned artists as Anna Netrebko, Patricia Racette, Deborah Voigt, Dolora Zajick and Thomas Hampson.

Each summer, San Francisco becomes a place where dreams come true for the young artists in the Merola Opera Program. Out of hundreds of young hopefuls who audition, approximately 20 singers, four apprentice coaches and one apprentice stage director are chosen to participate in the Program. Merola is dedicated to seeking out the finest young opera talent and helping them develop into professional artists of the highest caliber.

The Merola Opera Program offers training in:

  • Musical style and interpretation
  • Role preparation
  • Movement and acting
  • Accompaniment and conducting
  • Languages and diction
  • Breath work
  • Performance

The Merola Opera Program is dedicated to the continuing education and training of the finest young operatic talent and the development of this talent into professional opera singers, coaches and stage directors of the highest artistic caliber. 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 long-term financial stability and fundraising, and is grateful to the hundreds of loyal members, donors and foundations who support the Program.