Gala 2024 page

Merola’s 2024 Benefit Gala was an Affair to Remember

On April 13, 2024, Merola supporters gathered at the iconic City Club of San Francisco for the organization’s first black-tie gala since 2019. This wonderful night evoking art deco elegance raised over $300,000 for Merola’s 2024 program. Truly an "Affair  to Remember!"

View Photobooth Photos

View Event Photography by Kristen Loken

April 13, 2024 | 6-10pm

City Club of San Francisco                                       
155 Sansome St 10th floor, San Francisco, CA
Merola returns to its treasured tradition of holding a black-tie benefit gala. We invite you to take the time to celebrate opera, Merola, and each other! While enjoying a magical evening of gourmet food, a beautiful San Francisco setting, and a special performance, you will feel great knowing that all proceeds of this special night benefit young artists and the future of opera.
The iconic City Club of San Francisco is a private club located on the top floors of a beautiful art deco building in the heart of the city. It boasts an original mural by Diego Rivera, sweeping views of the city, and beautiful art deco touches throughout. All provide an elegant setting for An Affair to Remember.
Event time: 6-10 pm    
6 pm: Cocktails    
7 pm: Dinner and program    
9 pm: Dessert and drinks    
Location: The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome Street, San Francisco
Transportation and parking:    
Parking: 345 California Street (Enter at 109 Battery between California and Pine streets) – (415) 434-7743, Closes at 11pm    
BART/Muni: various routes will bring you within 1.5 blocks to the venue    
UBER: without an app, call (833) USE-UBER    
Pre-register a credit card:    
For ease of registration and use for any needs the night of the gala, please call Jacob Zimmer at the Merola office at (415) 936-2311 to ensure that we have a valid credit card on file. This will help us administer a quick registration and check out process. We will only use this information if you purchase an item/experience or make a contribution that evening.
Emergency number:    
If you must reach us after 5 pm on Friday, April 12, please call: (415) 297-3259

Live Auction Items        

One Week in a Mexican Villa
Seven days and nights in La Punta gated community near Manzanillo, Mexico. The villa has five bedrooms each with en suite bathroom, two swimming pools, dining room, great room, game room, bar and card area, kitchen, informal dining area, and palapa with bar and kitchen. You also have the services of a private cook, maid, and attendant. Take advantage of the private beach with full pool and lounging area, tennis courts with tennis coach, and putting green.
Wine Tasting with The Don (Sunday July 21, 2024 4-5:30 pm)
Raise your paddle to join this singularly spectacular wine & music pairing hosted by Master of Ceremonies Extraordinaire Ronny Michael Greenberg ('14) and The Don himself, Merola's 2014 Don Giovanni Edward Nelson! Your wine tastings, curated from the cellar of Chris & Jennifer Brahm, will be paired with the finest songs from The D.G. & His Musical Friends (or Enemies....?). Food accompaniment will abound of course, as you experience an unforgettable afternoon at Don Giovanni's Table!
A Specially Curated Case of Wine 
This case of wine was carefully selected and donated by Merola board members and patrons. Each bottle boasts special qualities that even the most distinguished collectors will admire and enjoy. The collection includes: 
- Bollinger, Champagne, PN TX17            
- Domaine de Villaine, 2020 Saint-Aubin 1er Cru “Les Perrières”             
- Château Troplong Mondot, 2018 1er Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Emilion            
- La Colombina, 2010 Brunello di Montalcino            
- Sea Smoke, 2016 Pinot Noir Ten            
- Hanzell, 2020 Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir            
- Ridge, 1990 Jimsomare, California Zinfandel            
- Ridge, 2019 Lytton Springs, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Blend            
- White Rock Vineyards, 2019 Claret            
- Terre Verte, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon            
- Silver Oak Cellars, 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon            
- Silver Oak Cellars, 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 


Signature Events

The following events will be available for sign up during cocktails and dessert. Prices are a set amount for one space at each event.
A Jazz Evening with 2024 Merola Artists
The jazz-era fun doesn’t end tonight. Join soprano Viviana Aurelia Goodwin, mezzo-soprano Lindsay Martin, tenor Samuel White, and pianist Julian Garvue, all 2024 Merolini, for a sparkling evening of jazz, standards, and opera favorites. After the recital, talk with the artists over wine and hors d'oeuvres in the lovely San Francisco home of Betty Newman.
RESTRICTIONS: 25 spaces available        
DATE: Monday, June 17, 2024, 6 pm        
VALUE: Priceless        
GUARANTEED BID: $250        
DONORS: Vivian Aurelia Goodwin, Lindsay Martin, Samuel White, Julian Garvue, Betty Newman, and Carol A. Weitz
Ashley Dixon & Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad in Recital
Ashley Dixon wowed Merola audiences in 2015 and 2017. She went on to become an Adler Fellow and returns to San Francisco Opera this summer in Die Zauberflöte. Hear this dazzling mezzo-soprano in recital with fellow alumna Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad ('18). After the recital, talk with the artists over wine and hors d'oeuvres in the beautiful San Francisco home of Patti Kim and Scott Gable.
RESTRICTIONS: 20 spaces available        
DATE: Friday, June 28, 2024, 6 pm        
VALUE: Priceless       
GUARANTEED BID: $300        
DONORS: Ashley Dixon, Kseniia Polstiankina Barrad, Patti Kim & Scott Gable and Bob & Terri Ryan
Note: There is a steep driveway and several steps to access the house.
Dinner and Conversation with Patricia Racette at Villa Taverna
APatricia Racette has been heralded a preeminent singing actress of our time. After her summer at Merola in 1988 she went on to a brilliant career on opera stages around the world, and in 2018, she expanded her talents into directing. She returns to Merola this summer to stage Don Giovanni. Join this world-renowned soprano, her wife Beth Clayton (a mezzo-soprano and integrative performance coach), and hosts Myron Marx and Cora Yang for a multi-course dinner at the magnificent Villa Taverna. This intimate evening with an opera legend is sure to be a night to be remember.
RESTRICTIONS: 9 spaces available     
DATE: Saturday, July 13, 2024, at 6:30 pm     
VALUE: Priceless     
DONORS: Patricia Racette and Myron Marx & Cora Yang
Note: Valet parking included. Villa Taverna requires jackets for men.
Alek Shrader and John Churchwell in Recital
Alek Shrader enchanted Merola audiences as the Prince in La Cenerentola in 2007 and went on to enchant audiences across the globe. Known for his lyric vocalism and expressive characterizations, he has performed with many of the world's most prestigious opera companies, including San Francisco Opera, where he will return in Partenope this summer. Witness this multi-talented tenor perform with brilliant collaborative pianist (and San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff) John Churchwell (’96) in the beautiful San Francisco home of Jennifer and Chris Brahm. After the recital talk with the artists over wine and hors d'oeuvres.
RESTRICTIONS: 20 spaces available    
DATE: Sunday, August 25, 2024, 6 pm    
VALUE: Priceless    
DONORS: Alek Shrader, John Churchwell, and Jennifer & Chris Brahm
Mei Gui Zhang in Recital
"Her voice literally floated past the space she stood in…and created remarkable, layered beauty", Opera Wire says of Mei Gui Zhang ('18), who returns to San Francisco Opera this fall as Oscar in Un ballo en maschera. Hear this exquisite soprano in recital in the lovely San Francisco apartment of Jean Kellogg. After the recital, enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres with the artists.
RESTRICTIONS: 14 spaces available    
DATE: Sunday, September 22, 2024, 5 pm    
VALUE: Priceless    
DONORS: Mei Gui Zhang, Jean Kellogg, and Greer & Thayer Hopkins
Note: There are two flights of stairs up to Ms. Kellogg’s apartment.
John Relyea and John Churchwell in Recital
John Relyea made an indelible impression on Merola audiences in 1995 and went on to distinguish himself as one of opera's finest basses. This fall he returns to San Francisco Opera as the Commander in The Handmaid's Tale. He and fellow alum John Churchwell will team up for a recital in the beautiful San Francisco home of Betty Newman. Savor their artistry and then enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres with the artists.
RESTRICTIONS: 25 spaces available    
DATE: Wednesday, September 18, 2024, 6 pm    
VALUE: Priceless    
DONORS: John Relyea, John Churchwell, Betty Newman, Robert S. Beadle, and Jeanne Dorward
Adler Fellow Sopranos in Recital
Spend a magical evening with a quartet of sopranos, all Merola alumnae and current Adler Fellows. Georgiana Adams ('23), Caroline Corrales ('23), Arianna Rodriguez ('22), and Olivia Smith ('22) will display their bountiful talents in a thrilling recital at the beautiful Tamalpais in Greenbrae, Marin County. After the recital, chat with the artists over wine and hors d'oeuvres.
RESTRICTIONS: 20 spaces available    
DATE: Wednesday, December 4, 2024, 7 pm    
VALUE: Priceless    
DONORS: Georgiana Adams, Caroline Corrales, Arianna Rodriguez, Olivia Smith, and David S. Hugle & Haggai Niv


Special Thanks to our Event Sponsors

Top Hat Grand Champion

Diane B. Wilsey

Sidecar Host

Janet Cluff


Robert H. Beadle                    
William and Gretchen Kimball Fund                    
Pali Wine Co.                    
Amy Roth and Robert Epstein


Camille Chan                    
George Crow                    
Bernice Lindstrom                    
Dr. Pamela Zell Rigg                    
UBS Institutional Consulting                    
Hon. James L. Warren

2024 Benefit Gala Committee

Robert H. Beadle, Event Chair                   
Jennifer Brahm                  
Dr. James Cross                  
Sylvia Lindsey                  
Dr. Pamela Zell Rigg                  
Carol Weitz                  
Patrick Wilken