Wednesday, July 21, 2021


War Memorial Opera House Interior
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

A dismaying press release from the Merola Opera, SFO's young singer training program. This sounds....bad:

Based on an abundance of caution the acclaimed Merola Opera Program has announced a programming update for its Merola Grand Finale, to be presented live July 31 atthe Golden Gate Park Bandshell. Following an occurrence in which artist health and safety COVID protocols were compromised by a number of participants, the decision has been made to prioritize the well-being of young artists, faculty, staff, and other participating artists, and to proceed with a reduced number of onsite participants and a greater focus on virtual training for the duration of this year’s program. 


After exploring numerous possible alternatives, it has been determined that this difficult step would help ensure the safest environment for the final week and a half of the summer training program and the Merola Grand Finale. Says Jean Kellogg, Executive Director of the Merola Opera Program, “It was a heartbreaking decision, but the safety of our young artists and production team is paramount.” 

I and safety protocols compromised by a number of participants? A wild party of some kind? People drinking to excess? Everybody leaving their masks home? Ouch, in any event. The press release continues: 

The public will still have the opportunity to enjoy a free outdoor performance featuring outstanding young artists from the Merola Opera Program performing a thrilling array of selections from some of opera’s most brilliant works. The Merola Grand Finale will be presented at 2:00pm, Saturday, July 31, at the Golden Gate Park Bandshell, John F. Kennedy Drive and Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco. Admission is FREE and open to the public. (Limited reserved seating is available for Merola members Gold Circle and above.) 


All Merola participants can be seen next month in “Back Home: Through the Stage Door,” a digital production filmed on location in early July at the historic Herbst Theatre, with the entire 2021 Merola ensemble performing classics and lesser known gems. Free on-demand streaming of “Back Home: Through the Stage Door” will be available to Merola members beginning August 13, and free to the public beginning August 27. For more information or to become a Merola member, visit


San Francisco Opera Center Artistic Director Carrie-Ann Matheson and General Manager Markus Beam noted, “The health and well-being of our artists, faculty, and staff has been and must remain our top priority,” adding that some participants will continue their Merola summer training virtually. The 2021 Merola Stage Director Audrey Chait, as originally announced, will direct the Merola Grand Finale. 


No comments: