June 26, 2006


Opera scenes from Idomeneo, La Favorite, I Puritani and Simon Boccanegra, performed by members
   of the 2006 Merola Opera Program, conducted by Mark Morash, and directed by Roy Rallo

          SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald announced
   casting and details for the 2006 Merola Opera Program’s free public concert of scenes from
   Idomeneo, La Favorite, I Puritani and Simon Boccanegra, which will be performed Sunday, July 9 at
   2pm, at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco as part of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. This
   concert is free; no tickets are required. For further information, please visit
          Opera Center’s Director of Musical Studies and Merola alumnus Mark Morash will
   conduct these semi-staged opera scenes, performed by participants in the summer Merola Opera
   Program. Director Roy Rallo will stage this mixed production featuring works by Mozart,
   Donizetti, Bellini, and Verdi.
          Casting for the Yerba Buena Gardens Scenes Concert is as follows:
                  ROLE                                           SINGER
                  Idomeneo, King of Crete                        Beau Gibson
                 Idamante, Idomeneo’s son                    Anna Jablonski
                 Ilia, Prisoner on Crete                     Ji Young Yang
       I Puritani
                 Elvira, daughter of Lord Walton             Jamie-Rose Guarrine
                 Giorgio, Elvira’s uncle                     Marc Webster
       Simon Boccanegra
                 Amelia, daughter of Simon Boccanegra        Heidi Melton
                 Gabriele, a young patrician                 Heath Rush
                 Un’ancella                                  Anna Jablonski
                 Pietro                                      Mark Webster
       La Favorite
                 Alphonse, the King of Castile XI            Michael Anthony McGee
                 Léonor, the King’s mistress                 Katharine Tier
                 Fernand, Léonor’s lover                     Heath Rush
                 Don Gaspar, a courtier                      Beau Gibson

       The twenty-three singers, four apprentice coaches and one apprentice stage director
participating in Merola’s intensive 11-week program were selected from more than 500 audition
applicants last fall and hail from four different countries: Canada, South Korea, Australia, and the
United States.
                                           About the Conductor
         Mark Morash, a 1987 Alumnus of the Merola Opera Program is currently the Director of
Musical Studies for San Francisco Opera Center. Morash also makes numerous appearances as
pianist for the Schwabacher Debut Recital Series. His recent engagements include Don Giovanni
at Lincoln Theater, Napa Valley; Rigoletto, Opera Colorado; What Fools These Husbands Be! (a
trio of one-act operas) and Pasatieri’s The Seagull for San Francisco Opera Center; and Angélique,
The Medium and The Merry Wives of Windsor for Merola Opera Program

                                           About the Director
       Roy Rallo began his career in opera as artistic administrator for Southern California’s
innovative Long Beach Opera, where he was responsible for producing over twenty new
productions from 1988-94. He made his directing debut there in 1991 staging Mozart’s Lucio Silla
while still artistic administrator and later returned to direct Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle and
Strauss’ Elektra for the company. He directed the San Francisco Opera Center’s 2002 production
of Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera as well as the January 2004 revival of Johannes Schaff’s Il
Barbiere di Siviglia for the main stage. With director Christopher Alden he has served as
dramaturg on productions of Faust for Welsh National Opera and Il Trovatore for Antwerp’s
Flemish Opera, and recently co-directed Carmen for the National Theater in Mannheim, Germany.
Other recent work includes highly unconventional productions of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and
Kurt Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins for The Crucible, Oakland’s school of fire arts.

                               About the Merola Opera Program
         Now in its 49th year, the Merola Opera Program is the oldest opera training program in the
country. Named for San Francisco Opera’s first general director, Gaetano Merola, the Merola
Opera Program began during the 1954-55 Season and established its full training program in 1957.
The program annually offers approximately 28 artists the rare opportunity of studying, coaching,
and participating in master classes with established professionals for eleven weeks during the
summer. Participants also perform in two complete opera productions with orchestra. The program
incorporates intensive training in operatic repertory, languages, diction, acting and movement and
culminates with the Merola Grand Finale, a concert with full orchestra.
         Merola Opera Program is an independent nonprofit organization, which operates under the
artistic auspices of San Francisco Opera Center and San Francisco Opera. The chairman of the
Merola Opera Program Board of Directors is James H. Schwabacher and the president is David S.
Hugle. The immediate past president is Rusty Rolland.
         Alumni of the program include Janis Martin, Sylvia McNair, Patricia Racette, Ruth Ann
Swenson, Carol Vaness, Deborah Voigt, Anna Netrebko, Susan Graham, Dolora Zajick, Brian
Asawa, Jess Thomas, Thomas Hampson, Rolando Villazón, and Patrick Summers.

          For further press information, please visit or contact:
                     Will Hamilton (415) 565-6470 /

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