New Leadership Announced for San Francisco Opera Center
August 21, 2020
San Francisco Opera Tad and Dianne Taube General Director Matthew Shilvock announces the appointment of Carrie-Ann Matheson as Artistic Director of the San Francisco Opera Center (SFOC). Matheson succeeds Sheri Greenawald whose distinguished tenure as Director of the Opera Center and artistic leader of the Merola Opera Program concludes in December 2020 with her retirement. In the newly created role of SFOC General Manager, Markus Beam joins Matheson to co-lead San Francisco Opera’s renowned young artist training programs, continuing the Company’s historic legacy of training excellence and continuing to adapt to a rapidly changing global landscape. Matheson and Beam join the Company in January 2021.
“Training future generations of artists is one of the most vital and enriching aspects of our artistic work,” said Shilvock. “We have been so fortunate to have the incomparable talents of Sheri Greenawald heading this training for nearly two decades. As Sheri prepares to retire, I am thrilled to welcome Carrie-Ann Matheson and Markus Beam to San Francisco Opera in an exciting new structure that will support young artists at an unparalleled level. Carrie-Ann and Markus’ leadership will inspire generations of young artists, preparing them for careers on the world’s greatest stages.”
Along with heading the SFOC and its flagship Adler Fellowship Program, Matheson and Beam will also develop and lead all artistic, production and curricula aspects of the Merola Opera Program. Due to the cancellation of Merola’s 2020 season, this year’s Merola class has been invited back for next summer’s program under Matheson and Beam’s artistic direction. All current Adler Fellows have been granted a continuation of their fellowships for 2021 and will begin working with the new Opera Center leadership team in January. Later this year, San Francisco Opera and Merola Opera Program will honor current SFOC Director Sheri Greenawald for her outstanding years of service. Further information will be announced at a later date.
Merola Opera Program’s Executive Director Jean Kellogg said: “Merola has enjoyed a strong working relationship with San Francisco Opera for more than 60 years, in particular with our esteemed colleagues at the San Francisco Opera Center. Merola’s ongoing success is thanks to our shared commitment to nurturing the next generation of opera talent. We are beyond grateful for Sheri Greenawald’s unparalleled artistic leadership over the past 18 years, and we look forward to working with Carrie-Ann and Markus to further Merola’s mission of providing a world-class training environment for the best and brightest aspiring opera artists from around the world.”
As artistic director, Matheson will provide artistic and musical leadership for all Opera Center artists and projects, including acting as the primary musical coach for its young artists, overseeing their development, collaborating on recitals and conducting performances. Beam will oversee the business aspects of the Opera Center and operational logistics, as well as managing the Adler Fellows and seasonal staff. Matheson and Beam will work with the young artists on augmenting their musical, dramatic and linguistic training with thorough and ongoing instruction in mental and physical health, financial management, media relations and branding, career planning, goal setting and time management. Together, they will identify new international talent for the Opera Center and Merola Opera Program, design programing and curricula and cast performances.
“Joining the remarkable team at San Francisco Opera is a tremendous honor for me, and I approach this opportunity with great enthusiasm and a profound sense of responsibility,” said Matheson. “Empowering young artists in their lives as well as in their artistry through individualized and comprehensive training has long been a dream of mine. The COVID-19 crisis has brought this necessity to the fore, and Markus and I believe that the need for holistic training has never been greater. We look forward to being members of the storied San Francisco Opera community and embarking on this journey with all of you.”
Beam added, “As a proud alum of the Merola Opera Program, I experienced firsthand the unparalleled training that has long been a hallmark of Merola and the SFOC, and I am thrilled to return to the company in this new role. The SFOC tradition of providing excellent training with industry leaders will continue, and Carrie-Ann and I look forward to expanding opportunities for young artists to develop essential skills for an operatic career, while building and developing professional relationships that can function as a support system in their careers beyond SFOC.”
The SFOC leadership will work closely with San Francisco Opera’s Department of Diversity, Equity and Community and Merola Opera Program’s newly formed DEI Task Force to address issues of racial inequality in the young artist training paradigm. Matheson and Beam stated: “The opera industry must immediately address its practices of discrimination and systemic racism. We commit to creating and sustaining active pathways for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) through long-term engagement with communities of color and active recruitment of BIPOC talent. Immediate initiatives will include an equity examination of the audition process in order to facilitate recruitment of more BIPOC artists, creating ongoing mentorship programs to develop more pathways for artists of color, a commitment to bring more BIPOC faculty to both the Adler and Merola Programs, inclusion of BIPOC composers and stories that represent our diverse communities and DEI training for all program participants.”
San Francisco Opera’s Caroline H. Hume Music Director Designate Eun Sun Kim, who is passionate about young artist development, will continue to work closely with the Adler Fellows as she has through regular virtual coachings during the pandemic. San Francisco Opera Head of Music Staff John Churchwell and César Ulloa, under the new title of SFOC Head of Vocal Studies, will continue their work with the young artists.
San Francisco Opera Managing Director of Artistic Gregory Henkel said: “Carrie-Ann and Markus’ joyous and caring collegiality are a treasure. I admire their deep knowledge of the art form, formidable talents and exceptional experience, which offer unique insight and ability to nurture and launch the next generation of great artists. Together they combine internationally sought-after musical training and top-tier artistic management with both serious rigor and sensitive compassion.”
Carrie-Ann Matheson has a multi-faceted international career as pianist, conductor and coach. She began at the Metropolitan Opera as a participant in the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and moved to full-time member of the music staff where she served as assistant conductor, prompter, pianist and vocal coach. A passionate educator, Matheson has worked with artists of the Lindemann Young Artist Program (Metropolitan Opera), the International Opera Studio (Opernhaus Zürich), the Ryan Opera Center (Lyric Opera of Chicago), Music Academy of the West, the Aspen Music Festival, the International Vocal Arts Institute and the Atkins Young Artist Program (The Mariinsky Theatre). In 2014, she was appointed to the staff of Opernhaus Zürich and continued to expand her international performing career as both a conductor and recital pianist. She has assisted many of the world’s leading opera conductors including Fabio Luisi, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Gianandrea Noseda and has performed in recital with such renowned singers as Rolando Villazón, Jonas Kaufmann and Piotr Beczała, among others. Matheson’s upcoming performances include an August 19 recital at the Salzburg Festival with tenor Benjamin Bernheim and, on September 12, a livestream performance with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s new virtual concert series.
DiDonato, a Merola participant in 1997, said: “I congratulate the San Francisco Opera for bringing Carrie-Ann Matheson on board to lead the talented young artists of today into becoming the vibrant and impactful arts leaders of tomorrow. Her dedication, experience, passion, vision and caring guidance will make an invaluable and immeasurable contribution to our art form.”
Markus Beam began his artistic journey as a singer and was one of the Merola Opera Program’s baritone participants in 2002, the first class directed by Opera Center Director Sheri Greenawald. He established himself in Europe with resident contracts at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Theater St. Gallen and in the US with appearances at the Santa Fe Opera and the Caramoor Festival before transitioning to artist management. As a Vice-President and Artist Manager for IMG Artists, Beam has worked with a diverse roster of artists, including emerging young singers and some of the most sought-after names in opera, who perform regularly on the world’s leading stages. His talent for building careers and introducing singers to international theaters has been ideally complemented by his training and experience as a certified life coach. Beam maintains an active coaching and consulting practice, regularly leading group classes and one-on-one sessions at many of the country’s premier training programs, helping artists define and clarify personal goals, develop actionable career plans and fully express their unique artistry and voices.
“How fortunate you are, San Francisco Opera, to have Markus Beam join your team!” said mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery. “I know of no one in the business with Markus’ integrity, intellect, vision and warm heart. He has a quick, penetrating mind and keen ability to plan, coordinate, organize and problem solve. He himself, is a beautifully nuanced artist and has incredible expertise at building and nurturing careers.”
For more than 30 years, San Francisco Opera Center has developed, challenged and nurtured young artists from around the world through its celebrated training programs. The Merola Opera Program, a financially independent organization that operates in close artistic collaboration with the San Francisco Opera Center and San Francisco Opera, is a three-month intensive for approximately 30 young artists each summer who are presented in operas and staged concerts, including a season finale on the War Memorial Opera House stage. A cohort of between 10–12 singers and coach pianists are chosen from Merola to become Adler Fellows, serving as resident artists of San Francisco Opera for 1–3 years and receiving advanced training. Both the Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program are widely regarded as among the world’s foremost opera training programs.