A stylistically diverse crop of Adler Fellows on vibrant display


Bass-baritone Christian Pursell and baritone Andrew Manea brought vocal heft and rhetorical urgency, separately and together, to music by Rossini, Bellini and Verdi. JOSHUA KOSMAN

San Francisco Opera Center Announces 2019 Adler Fellows


The 12 recipients this coming year include sopranos Mary Evelyn Hangley and Natalie Image; mezzo-sopranos Ashley Dixon and Simone McIntosh; countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen; tenors Zhengyi Bai, Christopher Colmenero, and Christopher Oglesby; baritone SeokJong Baek; and bass-baritone Christian Pursell. Hangley, McIntosh, Bai, Colmenero, Oglesby, and Baek are entering their first year as Adler fellows while Image, Ashley Dixon, Cohen, and Pursell are entering their second year. DAVID SALAZAR

Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ To Have San Francisco Opera Premiere


The cast features tenor William Burden as George Bailey. soprano Golda Schultz in her San Francisco Opera debut as angel Clara, baritone Rod Gilfry, soprano Andriana Chuchman in company debut, and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows soprano Sarah Cambidge, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Amitai Pati and bass-baritone Christian Pursell. Patrick Summers will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra with Leonard Foglia directing the production. FRANCISCO SALAZAR

Radvanovsky Reigns in S.F. Opera’s Roberto Devereux


Other Adler Fellows made excellent smaller contributions: Amitai Pati’s sunny sound as Lord Cecil contrasted with his character’s gleeful evil, and Christian Pursell gave Sir Walter Raleigh a full, honeyed voice and delightful swagger. ILANA WALDER-BIESANZ

Opera in the Park keeps a splendid San Francisco tradition alive and thriving


Looking farther down the road with current and recent Adler Fellows, soprano Sarah Cambidge whetted the appetite for October’s production of Strauss’ “Arabella” with a vibrant, muscular account of “Es gibt ein Reich” from that composer’s “Ariadne auf Naxos,” and bass-baritone Christian Pursell offered a splendid aria from Handel’s “Orlando” in advance of the production coming to San Francisco in June. JOSHUA KOSMAN

A Seventeenth-Century Embarrassment of Operatic Riches : Seen and Heard International

Seen and Heard International

Bass-baritone Christian Pursell crafted a fine Liberto, with a superbly stentorian voice ideally suited to the role of Nero’s bodyguard, and honestly portraying the contradictions of a soldier forced to carry out orders which he hates.

Christian Pursell wins Partners for the Arts Vocal Competition


American barihunk Christian Pursell won the 6th Annual Partners for the Arts Vocal Competition today in Alexandria, Virginia. Second Place went to tenor Brandon Scott Russell and Third Place to soprano Robin Steitz. 

The 2016 Metropolitan Opera semi-finalist performed "Aprite un po queli' occhi" from Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and "O du mein holder abendstern" from Wagner's Tannhauser.  

Pursell is a first year Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera. This season he'll be performing a number of roles with the company, including Walter Raleigh in Donizetti's Roberto Devereux, the Jailer in Puccini's Tosca, Count Lamoral in Richard Strauss' Arabella, and a fourth of the Angel Quartet in Jake Heggie's It's a Wonderful Life.

Two fairy-tale lovers and two singers in a Brahmsian cycle


Pursell, in a performance of impressive grandeur and depth, encapsulated each of these moments superbly. His singing was full of burnished colors, and he moved with assurance between the delicate lyricism of a song such as “Ruhe, Süssliebchen, im Schatten,” in which Peter sweetly sings Magelone to sleep in a leafy arbor, to the fiercely dramatic outbursts of the ensuing “Verzweiflung” (“Despair”), by which point things have started to go south for the two lovers. JOSHUA KOSMAN

An Opera About Gay Life in D.C. in the Fifties

The New Yorker

Gregory Spears’s opera “Fellow Travelers,” which is featured in this year’s Prototype Festival (Jan. 12-14), is a tale from the time of the “lavender scare”—the purging of homosexuals from federal employment in the nineteen-fifties. Around five thousand gay and lesbian people are thought to have lost their jobs; many never recovered from the ruin of their reputations, and an unknown number committed suicide. This shameful period is rightly associated with McCarthyism, but its most lethal instrument came directly from the desk of President Eisenhower: Executive Order 10450, which condemned “sexual perversion” and other amorphous improprieties. ALEX ROSS

A McCarthy-Era Opera and Other New Works

The New York Times

Jan. 12-14; prototypefestival.org.

This week marks the launch of a recent but essential addition to January’s classical calendar: the upstart Prototype Festival, a celebration of contemporary opera and music theater in all its forms. This year’s lineup includes audacious new works by a wide variety of composers, including Michael Gordon‘s deconstruction of 1940s horror movies and Alicia Hall Moran’s vocal work featuring ice skaters, at several New York venues.

One highlight is “Fellow Travelers” by Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce. Based on the eponymous novel by Thomas Mallon, the opera tells the story of an affair between two men during the McCarthy-era “lavender scare,” when the federal government purged gay employees from its ranks. Spears’s intimately lyrical score serves as the persuasive foundation for a wrenching, interiorized drama. WILLIAM ROBIN

San Francisco Opera Center Announces 2018 Adler Fellowship Recipients


"Sheri Greenawald, director of San Francisco Opera Center, announced the eleven recipients of the 2018 Adler Fellowship grant. Choosing promising young talent from the Merola Opera Program, recipients are given advanced training, via individual coaching and professional seminars, and a vast range of performance opportunities. The 2018 group of artists are comprised of eight singers, two pianists, and one director; no doubt all of them will benefit tremendously from this multi-year residency.

The singers include sopranos Sarah Cambidge and Natalie Image, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, tenors Amitai Pati and Kyle van Schoonhoven, bass-baritone Christian Pursell, and baritone Andrew G. Manea."