Zheng Cao
Merola Endowment Benefit

Due to COVID-19, the annual gathering at Uncle Yu's at the Vineyard in Livermore, California, for the Zheng Cao Merola Endowment Benefit is going to be a livestream virtual event this year. The celebration of Zheng, free to all, is at 6 pm on Zheng's birthday, July 9, 2020 on YouTube here. There will be musical performances and remembrances by special guest artists and arts luminaries. 

Zheng’s circle of devoted friends and admirers gather each summer with friends, family, colleagues, and fans of Zheng Cao to celebrate her memory with a fund for scholarships for emerging artists in the Merola Opera Program. In 2019, the Zheng Cao Merola Endowment was able to sponsor two Merola singers. We hope to meet or exceed that goal in 2020, with your support.


Mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, a celebrated artist and source of joy to everyone who knew her, died at the age of 46. Her nationally publicized fight against cancer was as inspiring as her vibrant singing. Zheng spent the summer of 1994 as a participant in the Merola Opera Program, followed by two years as an Adler Fellow with San Francisco Opera, and then her career launched with signature roles such as Cherubino and Suzuki. At San Francisco Opera, she sang as Siebel (Faust), Idamante (Idomeneo) Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress), and as the lead in the 2008 San Francisco Opera world premiere of Stewart Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, based on Amy Tan’s novel.
Frederica von Stade is this year's Honorary Chair, and featured artists include mezzo-sopranos Catherine Cook ('90) and Kristen Choi, tenor and Zheng Cao Merola Scholarship recipient, WooYoung Yoon ('18/'20), Merola alum and former Adler Fellow Ao Li ('10), and cellist Emil Miland, as well as special guest appearances by some of Zheng's nearest and dearest, including Jake Heggie, Amy Tan, and others.
We will miss seeing you and sharing our memories and love of Zheng in person this summer. We’ll miss our lively auction, and we'll especially miss the delicious wining and dining so graciously prepared for our event each year by Nick Liang and his staff at Uncle Yu's. We hope to see you again next summer!

For more information on how you can support the Zheng Cao Merola Endowment Benefit, contact:

Jean Kellogg

Executive Director