San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Present 2019 Schwabacher Recital Series

Release date: 1/23/2019    


February 13: Tenor WooYoung Yoon, baritone SeokJong Baek and pianist Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad

February 27: Baritone David Pershall with Pianist John Churchwell

April 13: Soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley, tenor Christopher Oglesby and pianist Mark Morash

April 24: Pianist Martin Katz with 2019 Adler Fellows Mary Evelyn Hangley, Ashley Dixon, Zhengyi Bai and Christian Pursell

Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in the Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater

Tickets available at (415) 864-3330 and

Schwabacher Series 2019.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program present the 36th season of the Schwabacher Recital Series, opening on February 13 and continuing through April 24. The four-recital series offers music lovers an opportunity to hear opera’s next generation of stars in the intimate and state-of-the-art Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco.

Since 1983, the Schwabacher Recital Series has introduced gifted young artists to Bay Area audiences. The recitals provide significant opportunities for emerging singers and pianists to explore the art song repertoire, and audiences the chance to hear a wealth of song literature ranging from Baroque masterpieces and Romantic-era classics to newly commissioned works. The annual series showcases the exemplary artists who have participated in the prestigious training programs of San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program, whose residencies offer intensive individual coaching and performance opportunities to young professional international artists.

Tenor WooYoung Yoon and baritone SeokJong Baek share the stage on February 13 for the opening recital of the series, accompanied bypianist Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad (Merola 2018; first-year Adler Fellow). Baek will sing Poulenc’s Chansons Gaillardes and Mahler’s youthful song cycle Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a Wayfarer). Yoon follows with Richard Strauss’ Vier Lieder,

Op. 27 ("Ruhe, meine Seele!," "Cäcilie," “Heimliche Aufforderung,” “Morgen!”) and Jake Heggie’s Friendly Persuasions: Homage to Poulenc—composed in 2008, the four songs set to poetry by Gene Scheer is based on four transformative friendships and meetings in Francis Poulenc’s life. The program is completed by one of opera’s most beautiful duets, “Au fond du temple saint” from Les Pêcheurs de Perles (The Pearl Fishers), as well as folk songs from the singers’ native South Korea.

Tenor WooYoung Yoon (Merola 2018) brought down the house with the show-stopping “Ah! Mes amis” from La Fille du Régiment at last summer’s Merola Grand Finale. He recently made his debut in Italy as Don José in Carmen with the Trentino Music Festival and later this year sings Rodolfo in La Bohème with New Jersey State Opera. Baritone SeokJong Baek (2018 Merola; first-year Adler Fellow) recently sang Yamadori (Madama Butterfly) as a resident artist of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. Other credits include La Traviata (Germont) with Aspen Music Festival and Das Land des Lächelns (Tschang) and Le Roi l'a dit (Gautru) with the Manhattan School of Music.

On February 27, the Schwabacher Recital Series presents baritone David Pershall and pianist and San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff John Churchwell (Merola 1996). Their program includes Beethoven’s only song cycle, An die Ferne Geliebte; Mahler’s Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen; Gerald Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain; and songs by Rachmaninoff. Pershall (Merola 2008) made his San Francisco Opera debut in 2016 as Roucher in Andrea Chénier, returning in 2017 as Lescaut in Manon and as Silvio in last fall’s Pagliacci. Hailed by the New York Times as “passionate and resonant,” the American baritone has appeared as Marcello (La Bohème) at Salzburger Landestheater, Figaro (Il Barbiere di Siviglia) and Schaunard (La Bohème) at the Metropolitan Opera, Papageno (The Magic Flute) at Washington National Opera, Count Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro) at Boston Lyric Opera, Belcore (L’Elisir d’Amore) at Minnesota Opera, and Orestes (Iphigénie en Tauride) and Manfredo (L’Amore dei Tre Re) at Poland’s Beethoven Easter Festival. Pershall’s many awards include top honors at the George London and Gerda Lissner competitions.

The series continues on April 3 with soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley and tenor Christopher Oglesby with pianist and San Francisco Opera Center Director of Musical Studies Mark Morash (Merola 1987). The artists will survey works by Schubert (Auf dem Strom), Britten (Canticle III “Still Falls the Rain”),

R. Strauss (Sechs Lieder, Op. 19), Dvořák (Cigánské Melodie), Charles Ives and Gabriel Fauré (selected songs) and Italian duets by various composers. Mary Evelyn Hangley (Merola 2016; first-year Adler Fellow) recently performed the role of Anna Sørensen in Kevin Puts’ Silent Night at Glimmerglass Festival and this spring will be featured in the Verdi Requiem at her alma mater, SUNY Fredonia, where she will also hold a two-day recital and masterclass residency. Tenor Christopher Oglesby (Merola 2018; first-year Adler Fellow) debuted as Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake's Progress with the Merola Opera Program. He recently performed with the Utah Symphony as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah and was a Resident Artist at Utah Opera, where he sang Tybalt in Roméo et Juliette.

Martin Katz, the “dean of collaborative pianists” (Los Angeles Times), leads a quartet of 2019 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows—soprano Mary Evelyn Hangley, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Zhengyi Bai,and bass-baritone Christian Pursell—in the final recital of the series on April 24. The program features Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs and selections from Hugo Wolf’s Mörike Lieder and Johannes Brahms’ Deutsche Volkslieder. One of the world’s busiest collaborators, Martin Katz has appeared and recorded regularly with celebrated vocal soloists such as Cecilia Bartoli, Lawrence Brownlee, José Carreras, Marilyn Horne, Karita Mattila, Samuel Ramey and Frederica von Stade. A pivotal figure in the training of countless singers and pianists, for the past three decades he has taught at the University of Michigan School of Music where he chairs the program in collaborative piano.

A 2018 Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ashley Dixon (2015 & 2017 Merola; second-year Adler Fellow) made her San Francisco Opera debut this fall as an Angel First Class in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Zhengyi Bai (Merola 2018; first-year Adler Fellow), who entered college as a piano major in China before discovering his true instrument, won the Los Angeles District of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and appeared as Alessandro in Merola Opera Program’s production of Mozart’s Il Re Pastore. Christian Pursell (Merola 2017; second-year Adler Fellow) appeared in four Company productions last year, including Sir Walter Raleigh in Roberto Devereux, and this April sings Samuel and Doeg in Handel's Saul with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

*For the complete press release, including calendar and program details, please view the attached PDF.