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San Francisco Opera announces this season’s three Schwabacher Debut Recitals

James Schwabacher coaching mezzo Elizabeth Bishop at the 1993 Merola Opera Program with apprentice coach Patrick O'Donnell at the piano
James Schwabacher coaching mezzo Elizabeth Bishop at the 1993 Merola Opera Program with apprentice coach Patrick O'Donnell at the piano
by Lisa Kohler, courtesy of the Merola Opera Program

The three-concert series of the Schwabacher Debut Recitals, presented by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program, will get under way later this month. This series is named for the late James Schwabacher, co-founder of the Merola Opera Program. The concerts are endowed in perpetuity through his generosity and sponsored by the Jack H. Lund Charitable Trust. The purpose of these recitals is to provide a platform for up-and-coming young singers performing a diverse sampling from the song literature than ranges from the Baroque period to newly commissioned works. The dates and programs for the three events are as follows:

  1. February 23: The title of this recital is About Love, and the selections will explore the complicated dichotomy of falling in and out of love. One singer for each of the principal vocal ranges will be performing: soprano Jacqueline Piccolino, mezzo Zanda Švēde, tenor A.J. Glueckert, and bass-baritone Rhys Lloyd Talbot. All four singers will participate in Johannes Brahms’ Opus 52 collection of eighteen waltz settings from the Polydora collection of folk songs and love poems assembled by Georg Friedrich Daumer. The four vocalists will be accompanied by pianists Mark Morash and Noah Lindquist. It has been speculated that Brahms was motivated to compose these out of his frustrated love for the daughter of Robert and Clara Schumann. Other composers to be included on the program will be Ludwig van Beethoven, Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, and Ned Rorem.
  2. March 30: This program is entitled In the Memory Palace, and it has been compiled by pianist Steven Blier, who is Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song. Once again, four singers will participate. Švēde and Glueckert will return, joined this time by soprano Maria Valdes and baritone Hadleigh Adams. The highlight of the program will be a performance of Gabriel Kahane’s song cycle The Memory Palace by Adams. This highly diverse program will also include rarely heard songs by Frank Bridge (Benjamin Britten’s teacher) and Heitor Villa-Lobos, musical theater selections by Stephen Sondheim, and some R&B from Smokey Robinson.
  3. April 27: This will be a solo recital by the recent Merola alumnus and first-year Adler Fellow, the New Zealand tenor Pene Pati. Pati will be accompanied by another current Adler Fellow, the Korean pianist Sun Ha Yoon. Pati will perform a collection of recital favorites by Roger Quilter and Paolo Tosti.

All programs in the Schwabacher series will take place on Sunday afternoons at 5:30 p.m. The venue, as it has been in past seasons, will be the Martin Meyer Sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El (2 Lake Street at the corner of Arguello). The three-concert series has an event page on the San Francisco Opera Web site. Single tickets are $25, and the subscription is $60. Tickets may be purchased through the San Francisco Opera Box Office, which is open on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Box Office is in the War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Avenue) and may be called at 415-864-3330. When available, students with valid identification may obtain rush tickets for $15 at Temple Emanu-El beginning at 5:00 p.m., with a limit of two tickets per person.