Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald to Retire at Close of 2020

Release date: 03/04/2020    


Sheri Greenawald to Retire at Close of 2020, Capping a Distinguished 18-Year Tenure as Director of San Francisco Opera Center and Artistic Director of Merola Opera Program

Sheri Greenawald Retires.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald—the brilliant lyric soprano, artistic director, insightful teacher and tireless champion of young artists—will retire from the Company at the close of 2020, capping a distinguished career including nearly two decades at the helm of San Francisco Opera’s acclaimed young artist training programs and as artistic director of the Merola Opera Program.

“From the moment I joined the Company in 2005, Sheri Greenawald was always someone I could talk to openly about opera without artifice or judgment,” said San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock. “Through her storied career onstage and in her work with young artists, Sheri has always seen opera as an art form open to all. She articulates the artistry of singing in wonderfully tangible concepts that can connect with both singers and audiences. Sheri unlocks doors that can uplift singers in transformative ways. She has nurtured the careers of more than 500 artists over her two decades directing the Adler and Merola programs, and the legacy that she leaves is unique and extraordinary. All of us at San Francisco Opera will miss Sheri dearly and wish her happiness and success as she turns the page to a new chapter.”

Sheri Greenawald has been the director of the Opera Center for San Francisco Opera and artistic director for the Merola Opera Program since 2002. San Francisco Opera Center’s Adler Fellowship training program provides young artists with major operatic potential a supportive environment in which to develop and flourish through intensive training, study and performance as resident artists of the Company. Adler Fellows are chosen from participants of the prestigious Merola Opera Program, one of the foremost opera training programs for aspiring singers, coach accompanists and stage directors. San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program have introduced budding stars to the international opera stage, and its graduates are active throughout the world as performers, production artists, arts professionals and educators. A search for Greenawald’s successor is underway.

The programs’ alumni include soprano Elza van den Heever (Merola 2003/04; Adler Fellow 2005–07) and baritone Lucas Meachem (Merola 2003; Adler Fellow 2004–05). Van den Heever, who sings Leonora in the Company’s new production of Fidelio this fall, stated: “It would not be an exaggeration to say that I am where I am today because of Sheri Greenawald. With her extraordinary intuition and ear, she took me under her wing and guided me through my crucial and life-altering transition from mezzo-soprano to soprano. She believed in me and my talent even when I did not. Sheri has been an incredible influence in my life, and as a young singer introduced me to a broader landscape both vocally and philosophically which has made all the difference. Her vast experience through her own incredible career, her never-ending inquisitive mind, her deep knowledge of the voice, and above all else, her search for truth and beauty have shaped her into one of the finest voice teachers and most caring individuals I know—and one to whom I am forever grateful.”

Meachem, whose recent Company appearances include The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, and in last fall’s Romeo and Juliet, said: “When you meet Sheri Greenawald, you instantly learn that she is one of a kind. Her infectious passion, her relentless curiosity, her palpable kindness—she stands out in not only the opera world but all walks of life, and everyone can appreciate a soul such as hers. I can safely say that Sheri occupies a significant place in the hearts of all of her students, and especially mine. I owe her so much. She has shown me many facets of performing that I employ every day to face the stage. Sheri, thank you for that, I’m always indebted to you.”

Reflecting on her extraordinary career, Sheri Greenawald shared: “For nearly 50 years, I have had the privilege to work in a profession that I love. But it is time, at age 72, to begin a new chapter in my life. I look to explore other artistic adventures in music, and I want to work seriously on my photography. There are hundreds of books to be read and poems to be written. I have been so extremely lucky to work at San Francisco Opera these last 18 years and to work with the wonderful people at the Merola Opera Program. I have rejoiced at the amazing talent that we have nurtured and introduced to the world. And I have loved working with my brilliant staff, without whom I would not have succeeded. I thank the community of music lovers who support this art form that has sustained me through these 50 years.”

Greenawald continued: “I was so fortunate to have been a soprano who worked happily for 30 years, singing music that was always inspiring, with fabulous colleagues who made the journey so amusing. I have been a voice teacher to all types of voices, from opera singers to church choir singers; I have directed operas, employing skills I learned at the hands of the greats in the business; I have cast many, many operas for Merola with my colleague Mark Morash, and I have led an administrative staff that has been nonpareil. There are no regrets! I wish all the best to those maintaining the continuum of the classical music business, and I will be watching and listening happily from my aerie, wherever that may be.”

On April 25, Merola Opera Program will honor Sheri Greenawald at their Merola 2020 Spring Benefit Gala. Merola Chairman Patrick Wilken said: "Sheri's unparalleled artistic leadership has enhanced the pivotal role the Merola Opera Program plays in launching the careers of young opera artists. Her passion for finding the most promising singers, accompanists and directors, and then providing a nurturing, yet demanding, environment for them to hone their craft has left an indelible mark on the opera art form." Jean Kellogg, Merola Executive Director, added: “I never fail to marvel at Sheri’s total devotion to our young artists and their training, and her brilliant ‘ear' for identifying the talents who are the future of opera, including taking a chance on 'wild card' singers who don’t fit the conventional mold. Her wonderful rapport with the Merola staff, board and members makes her an amazing friend and colleague. We wish Sheri all the best in her retirement. She will be greatly missed by all of us at Merola.”

Sheri Greenawald has had a distinguished international operatic singing career as a soprano, noted in particular for her enormous range of roles. She made her San Francisco Opera debut in 1978 (Marzelline in Fidelio), followed by roles including Pamina (The Magic Flute), Cendrillon, Cordelia (Lear) and Manon (Manon). She has sung leading roles with, among others, the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Venice’s La Fenice, Munich’s Bavarian State Opera, Paris’ Châtelet Theater, Welsh National Opera, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Netherlands Opera, Santa Fe Opera, LA Opera, Naples’ Teatro San Carlos and Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Greenawald is featured on several recordings, including the role of Birdie in Blitzstein’s Regina. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Greenawald completed the Professional Studies Program at The Juilliard School of Music and has received a Rockefeller Grant, a NEA Grant and the title of Seattle Opera Association’s Artist of the Year in 1998. She has taught privately and was a visiting artist at the University of Charleston, an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Northern Iowa, vocal coach of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program in 1999 and opera director for the program in 2000. She has also given master classes at Opera Theatre of St. Louis. She was a professor of voice and opera at the Boston Conservatory and directed for the Opera Studio. Since May 2002, Greenawald has been the Director of the San Francisco Opera Center and Artistic Director for the Merola Opera Program.


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