Atalla Ayan Wins San Francisco Opera’s Emerging Star Award

By Francisco Salazar

The San Francisco Opera has announced that Atalla Ayan has won the 2018 Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Emerging Stars Competition.

Ayan, who made his Company debut as Alfredo in Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata last fall, was named “2018 Emerging Star of the Year” based on a popular vote conducted online at from July 9–July 31, 2018. As the winner of the competition, which is now in its third year, Ayan will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

In a statement about the award, Ayan said, “It was on the stage of the San Francisco Opera House that I had one of the happiest moments of my career so far. A special thanks to Maria Manetti Shrem and Jan Shrem for their wonderful support of the initiative and for those all who believed in me and in my talent. I appreciate this award as a beautiful incentive for my development as an artist and for my career with hopefully many years yet to come.”

Ayan was picked from a list of 13 artists appearing in San Francisco Opera’s 2017–18 Season with support from the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Emerging Stars Fund. Among the singers Ayan beat were soprano Aurelia Florian, soprano Ellie Dehn, baritone David Pershall, sopranos Hye Jung Lee and Julia Bullock, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, tenor Paul Appleby, baritones Ryan McKinny and Elliot Madore, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, bass Soloman Howard, and mezzo-soprano Ronnita Miller.

The Emerging Stars Award was established through a multi-year, multimillion-dollar gift from Company benefactors Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem. Their gift provides crucial support for San Francisco Opera to celebrate rising artists and to engage the community in the thrill of experiencing these performers. Past recipients include baritone Lucas Meachem and tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz.