San Francisco Opera Center Announces 2018 Adler Fellows

Release date: 11/21/2017    

  2018 Adler Fellowship.pdf  Photos Available

San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald today announced the 11 recipients of the 2018 Adler Fellowship. Eight singers, two pianist/apprentice coaches and one director will take part in the program. 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. Adler Fellows are selected from the artists who have participated in the Merola Opera Program. The prestigious fellowship has nurtured the development of more than 175 young artists since its inception.

The eight singers selected as 2018 Adler Fellows are sopranos Sarah Cambidge (Vancouver, B.C., Canada) and Natalie Image (Tsawwassen, B.C., Canada); mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon (Peachtree City, Georgia); Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen (Brooklyn, New York), who becomes the fourth countertenor to join the program after Brian Asawa, Gerald Thompson and Ryan Belongie; tenors Amitai Pati (Auckland, New Zealand) and Kyle van Schoonhoven (Lockport, New York); baritone Andrew G. Manea (Troy, Michigan); and bass-baritone Christian Pursell (Santa Cruz, California). Natalie Image, Ashley Dixon, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Christian Pursell are incoming first-year Adler Fellows. Sarah Cambidge, Amitai Pati, Kyle van Schoonhoven and Andrew G. Manea return as second-year fellows. All artists begin their fellowships in January 2018, except for Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen who begins in July 2018.

Director Aria Umezawa (Toronto, Canada) continues her fellowship for a second year. Umezawa will participate in all aspects of fellowship training, including dance classes, language classes and score studies. She will also work with the Adler Fellows on their audition repertory and participate in other San Francisco Opera Center activities. This December, she stages the Opera Center’s The Future Is Now concert showcasing the 2017 Adler Fellows performing with the San Francisco Opera Orchestra at the War Memorial Opera House.

The pianists selected for Apprentice Coach Fellowships are first-year fellow César Cañón (Bogotá, Colombia) and returning second-year fellow John Elam (Cleburne, Texas). 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 they 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 commented about the new Adler Fellowship season: “I’m excited about several unique opportunities for our 2018 Adlers. Giles Havergal, who works with students from the American Conservatory Theater, will be staging the Adlers in long Mozart scenes, which will be enhanced by scenes from plays relating directly or indirectly to the story line of the music. This gives our young artists the chance to explore in-depth the arias, duets and ensembles they will be performing during their careers. This also allows them to work with spoken dialogue, which is an art in itself, and which opera singers will encounter as companies present more classic music theater on their stages. Also, Nicola Bowie gives her wonderful seminar on the styles and mores of the different periods represented in opera. This class covers everything from historical background to clothing and dance of the periods. In addition, we continue stressing the language classes, which are so essential to their work as singers.”

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 also enjoy a variety of performance opportunities throughout their fellowship. Upcoming engagements for the 2018 Adler Fellows include the Eureka Chamber Music Series (February 2); Red Scarf Society for the Performing Arts (February 4/Yreka, CA); Brava! Opera Theatre for the Performing Arts (February 5/Ashland, OR); and the 2018 Future is Now concert. Select Adler Fellows will also be featured in the 2018 Schwabacher Debut Recital Series. Further information about upcoming Adler Fellow performances will be announced at a later date.

The outgoing 2017 Adler Fellows are sopranos Amina Edris and Toni Marie Palmertree, tenor Pene Pati, bass-baritone Brad Walker, bass Anthony Reed and apprentice coach Jennifer Szeto. The 2017 Adler Fellows’ season culminates with the annual showcase concert, The Future Is Now, on Friday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the War Memorial Opera House. Director and Adler Fellow Aria Umezawa stages this program of arias and operatic scenes featuring the 2017 class of Adler Fellows accompanied by the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Conductor James Gaffigan leads the Orchestra in his Company debut. For more information, visit

*For the complete press release, including bios of all of the Adler Fellows, please view the attached PDF.