San Francisco Opera Center Announces 2019 Adler Fellows

Release date: 11/7/2018    


Adler Fellowship 2019.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald today announced the 12 recipients of the 2019 Adler Fellowship. Selected from participants of the Merola Opera Program, the ten singers and two pianist/apprentice coaches begin their fellowships in January 2019. The multi-year performance-oriented residency offers advanced young artists intensive individual training, coaching and professional seminars, as well as a wide range of performance opportunities. Since its inception in 1977, the prestigious fellowship has nurtured the development of more than 180 young artists, introducing many budding stars to the international opera stage and launching active careers throughout the world as performers, production artists, arts professionals and educators.

The singers selected as 2019 Adler Fellows are sopranos Mary Evelyn Hangley (Long Beach, NY) and Natalie Image (Tsawwassen, Canada); mezzo-sopranos Ashley Dixon (Peachtree City, GA) and Simone McIntosh (Vancouver, Canada); countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Brooklyn, NY); tenors Zhengyi Bai (Linyi, China), Christopher Colmenero (Burlington, VT) and Christopher Oglesby (Woodstock, GA); baritone SeokJong Baek (Jeon-Ju, South Korea); and bass-baritone Christian Pursell (Santa Cruz, CA). Mary Evelyn Hangley, Simone McIntosh, Zhengyi Bai, Christopher Colmenero, Christopher Oglesby and SeokJong Baek are incoming first-year Adler Fellows. Natalie Image, Ashley Dixon, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Christian Pursell continue in the program as second-year fellows.

The pianists selected for Apprentice Coach Fellowships are first-year fellow Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad (Kyiv, Ukraine) and returning second-year Adler César Cañón (Bogotá, Colombia). The Adler Fellow apprentice coaches work closely with Mark Morash, Director of Musical Studies of the Opera Center, and John Churchwell, Head of Music Staff at San Francisco Opera. The coaches participate in the musical activities of both San Francisco Opera and the Opera Center and are involved in all aspects of the Adler Fellows’ training by acting as pianists for master classes, working with master coaches and preparing the Adler Fellows for concerts and mainstage roles.

Sheri Greenawald, now in her 16th year as director of San Francisco Opera Center, reflected on the start of the new season: “Every January, it’s always very exciting to welcome a new group of singers and pianists to the Adler program. And with three tenors on the roster this year, it will surely be an exciting ride! I look forward to watching all of them navigate the language, acting, dance and stage combat classes, and then working to synthesize it all for their main stage assignments later in the season. Young artist programs are the finishing schools for singers and pianists. They’ve learned how to put the ‘soufflé’ together, and now it has to bake—may they all rise to the heavens!”

Adler Fellows gain valuable professional experience by participating in roles of increasing importance in San Francisco Opera’s repertory season at the War Memorial Opera House, and via a variety of performance opportunities throughout their fellowship. Upcoming engagements for the 2019 Adler Fellows include the Eureka Chamber Music Festival on January 25 in Eureka, CA and Brava! Opera Theatre on January 27 in Portland, OR. Select Adler Fellows will also be featured in the 2019 Schwabacher Recital Series (February & April 2019), and all take the stage for the annual Future is Now concert in December.

The graduating 2018 Adler Fellows are soprano Sarah Cambidge, tenors Amitai Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven, baritone Andrew Manea, pianist/apprentice coach John Elam and director Aria Umezawa. The 2018 Adler Fellows’ season culminates with the annual showcase concert, The Future Is Now, on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Herbst Theatre. Aria Umezawa stages this program of arias and operatic scenes featuring the 2018 class of Adler Fellows accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra led by American conductor Christopher Franklin, who made his Company debut last season with Turandot. For tickets and more information, visit

*For the complete press release, including artist bios, please view the attached PDF.