Festival Napa Valley Launches Manetti Shrem Opera Program

May 25, 2021

Featuring fully staged opera productions and recitals, a Summer Vocal Conservatory, and the new $10,000 Manetti Shrem Prize for Career Advancement

2021 highlights include a production of Gianni Schicchi conducted by Kent Nagano and starring Lucas Meachem, and an Opera Gala conducted by James Conlon with Michael Fabiano and Manetti Shrem Prizewinners Mario Rojas and Simone McIntosh

Festival Napa Valley announces the launch of the Manetti Shrem Opera Program, a major new initiative designed to nurture the creative careers of gifted singers.

Created through a generous gift from Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem, the multifaceted program features renowned vocalists performing with leading conductors and opera directors; a summer vocal conservatory providing advanced study, performance opportunities, and scholarships for college-aged students and recent graduates; and a vocal arts concert series.

“The Manetti Shrem Opera Program enables Festival Napa Valley to build upon its rich history of championing the vocal arts, with a broad range of programs featuring international stars and the stars of tomorrow,” said Richard Walker, President & CEO of Festival Napa Valley. “This initiative brings the Festival into the ranks of the world’s leading summer opera programs.

“Jan and I are passionate about music and live performance--and opera has always been near and dear to our hearts,” said Maria Manetti Shrem. “We are honored to be able to support the careers of some of the world’s most talented singers, and to give them the resources they need to thrive. We can’t wait to see them share their talents with the Napa Valley community.”

The program also features the new Manetti Shrem Prize, awarded to artists on the cusp of important international careers. The Prize includes a $10,000 career development grant and the opportunity to perform as part of Festival Napa Valley’s summer season. The inaugural winners are Mexican tenor Mario Rojas and Canadian mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh.

Mario Rojas is an alumnus of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and recipient of the Sullivan Foundation Award, Luminarts Foundation Fellowship, and Emerging Singers Award at the Opera Index Vocal Competition.

Named as one of the "30 Hottest Classical Musicians Under 30" by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, mezzo-soprano Simone McIntosh is currently an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, and graduated from McGill Schulich School of Music and the University of British Columbia.

2021 Manetti Shrem Opera Program highlights include the Napa debut of Cuban-American soprano Lisette Oropesa in recital at Charles Krug winery, a new production of Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, conducted by Kent Nagano and directed by Jean-Romain Vesperini with Lucas Meachem in the title role, an evening of “Opera Under the Stars” with tenor Michael Fabiano, Mario Rojas, Simone McIntosh and Festival Orchestra Napa conducted by James Conlon, and a Tribute to Tony Bennett starring “The Ambassador of The Great American Songbook” Michael Feinstein and friends.