Adler Fellows Gala Concert

by Philip Campbell

Bay Area Reporter

Tuesday November 29, 2022

Adler Fellows Gala Concert

The Adler Fellows class of 2022 will appear in their final concert of the year, "The Future Is Now: Adlers in Concert," on Friday, Dec. 2 at the Herbst Theatre. The annual performance, which features gifted participants from the residency season, always feels a bit like a festive commencement ceremony, except the students sing for their credentials, while the audience cheers in pride and admiration.

San Francisco Opera Music director Eun Sun Kim will conduct the grand night of singing, presenting arias and scenes performed by SFO's special crop of resident artists, drawn from the esteemed Merola Opera Program.

The 2022 Adler Fellows are sopranos Anne-Marie MacIntosh (Langley, British Columbia, Canada), Mikayla Sager (Vancouver, B.C.); Elisa Sunshine (San Clemente, CA) and Esther Tonea (Buford, GA); mezzo-soprano Gabrielle Beteag (Atlanta, GA); tenors Victor Cardamone (Pittsburgh, PA) and Edward Graves (Oxon Hill, MD); baritone Timothy Murray (Whitefish Bay, WI); and bass Stefan Egerstrom (Brooklyn Center, MN).

Gabriella Beteag, Victor Cardamone, Edward Graves, and Mikayla Sager, selected from the Merola Opera Program, are incoming first-year fellows. Anne-Marie MacIntosh, Elisa Sunshine, Esther Tonea, Timothy Murray, and Stefan Egerstrom continue in the program as third-year fellows.

The 2022 class includes two pianist/coaches, first-year fellow Marika Yasuda (Williamsburg, VA) and returning third-year fellow Andrew King (Syracuse, NY). They work closely with Opera Center Artistic Director Carrie-Ann Matheson and with SFO Head of Music Staff John Churchwell in developing the necessary skills for a career in music.

One of the biggest advantages for Adler Fellows includes experience appearing in roles of increasing importance in SFO's repertory season at the War Memorial Opera House (WMOH). Members are consequently prepared for international success in the world of opera and vocal recitals.

Famous graduates of the prestigious program include Patricia Racette, Ruth Ann Swenson, Deborah Voigt, Dolora Zajick, and Leah Crocetto, late lamented countertenor Brian Asawa, Brian Jagde, John Relyea, and, more recently, baritone Efrain Solis and countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. That is just a short list; every year produces a bumper crop.

After a recent matinee of Poulenc's "Dialogues of the Carmelites" on the stage of the WMOH, three Adler alumnae whose careers with SFO each span over three decades received the San Francisco Opera Medal. The Opera Medal is the Company's highest honor and awarded for distinguished service to SFO over many years.

Mezzo-soprano Catherine Cook, the beloved inveterate scene-stealer, who was Mother Jeanne in the afternoon performance, and impressive singing actor bass-baritone Dale Travis, who portrayed the Marquis de la Force, were joined by internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Philip Skinner to each receive the well-deserved Medal from General Director Matthew Shilvock. They embody proof of the importance of the Adler Fellowship mission.

The tradition of "The Future is Now" concerts has grown into something of an institution itself. The meticulously prepared high-energy programs often contain rarities deserving rediscovery, even if their source operas are unlikely to be revived. Of course, familiar tunes from hit operas make up most of the program.

The professionalism of the SFO Orchestra is expected, but delighted listeners are equally impressed by the startling maturity and artistry of the new singers. It is a feel-good experience and a great show, guaranteed to reinforce hope about the state of the art.

They may be going out there as youngsters, but they are coming back as stars.

'The Future is Now: Adlers in Concert,' Friday, Dec. 2, 7:30pm. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave. (415) 864-3330. www.sfopera.com

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