San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program Present Final Schwabacher Recital of 2019 on April 24

Release date: 4/15/2019    


Soprano Patricia Westley Replaces Mary Evelyn Hangley in April 24 Schwabacher Recital

Pianist Martin Katz Featured with 2019 Merola Opera Program Artist soprano Patricia Westley and Adler Fellows mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Zhengyi Bai and bass-baritone Christian Pursell

Schwabacher Recital April 24 Update.pdf  Photos Available

Soprano Patricia Westley will replace Mary Evelyn Hangley in the final recital of the 2019 Schwabacher Recital Series, presented by the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera Center. Soprano and first-year Adler Fellow Mary Evelyn Hangley has withdrawn from the April 24 recital for personal reasons.

Patricia Westley joins mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Zhengyi Bai and bass-baritone Christian Pursell in a program led by Martin Katz (the “dean of collaborative pianists” Los Angeles Times) featuring 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.

New Zealand–American soprano Patricia Westley will return to the Merola Opera Program in the Summer of 2019 to sing the role of Selena in the world premiere of If I Were You by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer. Other 2019 engagements include the roles of Louis XV Chair, The Shepherdess, The Bat and The Screech Owl in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges with Pacific Symphony and soloist in Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 with San José Chamber Orchestra. Recent performances have included Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Oakland Symphony, Elisa in Mozart's Il Re Pastore, Musetta in Puccini’s La Bohème and Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. Westley has completed an artist residency with Shreveport Opera and the 2018 Merola Opera Program, won an Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and is an alumna of the University of Oklahoma and Carnegie Mellon University. 

A 2018 Grand Finals winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Ashley Dixon (Merola 2015/2017; second-year Adler Fellow) first appeared with San Francisco Opera last fall as Annina in an excerpt from La Traviata at Plácido Domingo in Concert, and made her Company debut later in the season 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 month sang Doeg/Samuel in Handel's Saul with Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at various venues in the Bay Area and at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The Schwabacher Recital Series showcases the exemplary young artists who have participated in the prestigious training programs of San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program. The four-recital series offers music lovers an opportunity to hear opera’s next generation of stars in the intimate Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater in San Francisco. The series is endowed in perpetuity by the generosity of the late James Schwabacher and sponsored in part by the Jack H. Lund Charitable Trust, Chris and Jennifer Brahm, Jayne and Peter Davis and Ms. Jean Schuler. A celebrated Bay Area singer, recitalist, scholar and teacher, James Schwabacher was a co-founder of the Merola Opera Program.

For more information on the San Francisco Opera Center, Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program, visit and

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