About Us

Merola's Mission

To define the future of opera.  The Merola Opera Program is an internationally respected model for building strong careers in opera, with a proven balance of training, performance, and individualized support. Merola trains and develops the finest young opera singers, coaches, and stage directors and invites passionate supporters to be part of the journey.



Conductor Gaetano Merola (right) with the cast of 'La Boheme', including Ezio Pinza (left) and Licia Albanese (center), 1944
Conductor Gaetano Merola (right) with the cast of La bohème, including Ezio Pinza (left) and Licia Albanese (center), 1944

Merola in Brief

The epicenter of opera training

One of the oldest and most prestigious opera training programs in the world, Merola was founded in 1957, and named in honor of San Francisco Opera's first general director, Gaetano Merola. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration with San Francisco Opera, but is a financially independent nonprofit organization governed by its own Board of Directors. Merola is responsible for its own fundraising, primarily from loyal members and foundations.
The Merola Opera Program is widely regarded as the foremost opera training program for aspiring singers, coaches, accompanists, and stage directors. Merola nurtures the opera stars of tomorrow and offers outreach through educational programs for students and the general public.
Merola alumni include Leah Crocetto, Anna Netrebko, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Racette, Nadine Sierra, Ruth Ann Swenson, Elza van den Heever, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Brian Asawa, Brian Jagde, Stuart Skelton, Rolando Villazón, Thomas Hampson, Quinn Kelsey, Patrick Summers, and numerous other opera luminaries.

Our Secret to 6 Decades of Success

International opera artists mentoring young professionals

Career building advanced training and performance opportunities

Merola offers a unique combination of training and performance opportunities during the twelve week all-expenses paid summer program. This training program includes fully staged operas with orchestra, a scenes concert, and the Merola Grand Finale Concert, which concludes the summer. These experiences in front of a live audience put into practice the depth and richness of the lessons learned over the program.
Merola participants receive matchless advanced training in musical style and interpretation, role preparation, movement and acting, accompaniment and conducting, languages and diction, breath work, and professional development.

Our Renowned Faculty

Our renowned faculty, many of whom return year after year to impart their invaluable wisdom to the next generation, has included Stephen Blier, Régine Crespin, Alan Darling, Jane Eaglen, Hans Hotter, Martin Katz, Warren Jones, Lotfi Mansouri, Malcolm Martineau, James Morris, Leontyne Price, Donald Runnicles, Graziella Sciutti, Elisabeth Söderström, Patrick Summers, Dame Joan Sutherland, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and Carol Vaness.

Continuing support for career development

All artists are eligible for Career Grants (up to $6,000 in a given year and up to $12,000 total) for five years after their Merola summer. These grants, for everything from audition travel to headshots to vocal coaching, help the young artists transition to the professional opera world.
Some artists participate in the program for a second summer and a select few become Adler Fellows with San Francisco Opera. Merola artists graduate from the program with a clearer idea of what their next steps will be musically, artistically, and technically as they pursue their careers in opera.
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Merola Opera Program Artist, 2017