San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Present 2018 Schwabacher Recital Series

Release date: 1/29/2018    


February 21: Soprano Jana McIntyre and baritone Andrew G. Manea with pianist John Elam

March 7: Soprano Felicia Moore, bass-baritone Christian Pursell and pianist César Cañón

March 21: Soprano Toni Marie Palmertree with pianist Mark Morash

April 4: Pianist Kevin Murphy, Natalie Image, Ashley Dixon, Amitai Pati and Christian Pursell

Schwabacher Series 2018.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program present the 35th anniversary season of the Schwabacher Recital Series, opening on February 21 and continuing through April 4. 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. New this season, the recital series moves to Wednesday evenings at 7:30 p.m.

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 opportunity 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 performance-oriented residencies offer intensive individual coaching and performance opportunities to young professional international artists.

The 2018 Schwabacher Recital Series openson February 21 with soprano Jana McIntyre and baritone Andrew G. Manea performing Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch. Together with pianist John Elam (2016 Merola Opera Program apprentice coach and now a second-year Adler Fellow), McIntyre and Manea survey the Austrian composer’s collection of 46 miniatures setting German translations of Italian folk poetry. A participant of the 2016/2017 Merola Opera Program, Jana McIntyre garnered critical acclaim for her 2017 Merola appearance as Serpina in Pergolesi’s La Serva Padrona and made her professional debut in New York as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice as part of Anthony Roth Costanzo’s 2016 “Orphic Moments” project conducted by Matthew Aucoin. Second-year Adler Fellow Andrew G. Manea (2016 Merola Opera Program) has appeared on San Francisco Opera’s mainstage as Marullo (Rigoletto) and Marquis d’Obigny (La Traviata) and joins the cast of the Company’s new production of Tosca next season as Sciarrone. 

On March 7, Johannes Brahms’ Die schöne Magelone is brought to life bysoprano Felicia Moore, bass-baritone Christian Pursell and pianist César Cañón (2017 Merola Opera Program and first-year Adler Fellow). Brahms’ anthology of 15 songs sets poems from Ludwig Tieck’s 1797 novella, which was inspired by Medieval legend and combines prose with passages of verse, about the love of the valiant French knight Peter for the Neapolitan Princess Magelone. This tale of love, chivalry, adventure and fortune will include narration and visual projections in a presentation created by stage director Aria Umezawa (2016 Merola Opera Program and second-year Adler Fellow). Currently an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies candidate at The Juilliard School, Felicia Moore (2017 Merola Opera Program) appears at Alice Tully Hall this February and March for Juilliard’s Songfest and Vocal Arts Honors Recital. Christian Pursell, a participant of the 2017 Merola Opera Program and first-year Adler Fellow, has earned acclaim in two recent world premieres: as Tom in Laura Kaminsky’s Some Light Emerges last spring at Houston Grand Opera, and singing several roles in Gregory Spears’ Fellow Travelers at Cincinnati Opera in 2016.

Die schöne Magelone promises to be a rare treat,” said San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald. “This cycle is heard quite often in Europe, but not in the United States. Our two singers will become its characters, and our wonderful Adler pianist César Cañón will be taking on some of Brahms’ most difficult piano parts of his entire song output.”

The series continues on March 21 with soprano Toni Marie Palmertree and pianist Mark Morash in a program of works by Britten (On This Island), Debussy (Proses lyriques), Charles Griffes (Three Poems of Fiona McLeod), Mompou (Combat del somni), John McCabe (Three Folk Songs) and Obradors (selections from Canciones clásicas españolas). Mark Morash, San Francisco Opera Center’s Director of Musical Studies commented: "I am particularly excited by the Debussy songs, which are at times intimate, remote, then epic. Britten’s set of Auden poems are some of his finest songs, full of majesty, despair and desire. And we are thrilled to partner with San Francisco Opera Principal Clarinet Jose Gonzalez Granero in two groups on this program. The Griffes songs are an arrangement by San Francisco Ballet Music Librarian Matthew Naughtin for soprano, clarinet and piano. We found some wonderful folksongs set by the British composer and pianist John McCabe that use the same combination, adding a wonderful touch of lightness to the second half of the program.”  

In her role debut as Liù in Puccini’s Turandot with San Francisco Opera last fall, Toni Marie Palmertree (2015 Merola Opera Program; 2016/2017 Adler Fellow) was hailed for her “performance of wondrous poignancy and heroism” (San Francisco Chronicle). The rising American soprano also scored a triumph with the Company last season when she substituted for an ailing colleague on two-hours’ notice to sing her first Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly: “The young soprano not only met the challenge, but she claimed her place among the finest vocal interpreters of the role heard here recently” (San Francisco Classical Voice).

The series comes to a close on April 4 with Kevin Murphy, esteemed collaborative pianist and director of Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute Program for Singers, and a quartet of 2018 San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows—soprano Natalie Image (2017 Merola Opera Program), mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon (2015/2017 Merola Opera Program), tenor Amitai Pati (2016 Merola Opera Program) and bass-baritone Christian Pursell (2017 Merola Opera Program). Kevin Murphy, a leading figure in the world of classical vocal music, also serves on the faculty of Indiana University Opera Theater and Jacobs School of Music. In addition to his on- and off-stage partnership with his wife, soprano Heidi Grant Murphy, he has collaborated in concert and recital with artists such as Cecilia Bartoli, Lawrence Brownlee, Iestyn Davies, Plácido Domingo, Gerald Finley, Renée Fleming and Elīna Garanča. Natalie Image sang Clorinda in Merola’s La Cenerentola and last December performed the title role in the North American premiere of Alma Deutscher’s Cinderella with Opera San José. Ashley Dixon’s Merola roles include Popova in The Bear, La Ciesca in Gianni Schicchi and Mrs. Nolan in The Medium. Amitai Pati will appear in several San Francisco Opera productions next season including Pagliacci (Beppe) and Roberto Devereux (Lord Cecil), and he is also a member of the highly successful New Zealand vocal trio SOL3 MIO. Christian Pursell will make his Company debut next season in Roberto Devereux (Walter Raleigh) and will also appear in Arabella (Count Lamoral) and It's a Wonderful Life (Angel Quartet). The program for this recital will be announced at a later date.

The Schwabacher Recital Series is endowed in perpetuity by the generosity of the late James Schwabacher and sponsored by the Jack H. Lund Charitable Trust. A celebrated Bay Area singer, recitalist, scholar and teacher, James Schwabacher was a co-founder of the Merola Opera Program.

For updates and more information about the 2018 Schwabacher Recital Series, visit

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