If the San Francisco Opera Center's title for the gala concert that ends its annual Adler Fellows program -- "The Future Is Now" -- seems like wishful thinking or even a trifle presumptuous, rest assured it's because those who run the prestigious training program have every confidence in the 10 young performers they're putting on parade Friday night at the Herbst Theatre. All graduates of the center's 11-week summer Merola Program who have stepped up into the more selective yearlong fellowship programs for one to three years running, these eight singers and two pianists/coaches have already had plenty of experience on the War Memorial stage and beyond and could be destined to have their names in lights on opera marquees around the world.

At 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the backing of Conductor Giuseppe Finzi and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra, they step into the spotlight to celebrate the culmination of the year with a program of arias, duets and ensemble excerpts from the works of Mozart, Massenet, Gounod, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Rossini and Thomas.

Among the names you may already recognize are tenor Brian Jagde, a third-year Adler Fellow who is just finishing up his run at War Memorial as Mario Cavaradossi in "Tosca" opposite the superb Patricia Racette, with high praise ringing in his ears. He is scheduled to open the gala concert in a duet from Massenet's "Manon" with soprano and second-year Adlerite Nadine Sierra, a 2009 winner of the New York Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions who has a string of other first-prize competition wins and a Carnegie Hall solo recital debut behind her. (She also is to be featured in one of San Francisco Performances' popular salon concerts at the Hotel Rex at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12, supported by former Adler Fellow Tamara Sanikidze on piano.)


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The other artists joining Jagde and Sierra on the Herbst stage are soprano Marina Harris, mezzo-sopranos Laura Krumm and Renée Rapier, baritones Ao Li and Joo Won Kang, bass-baritone Ryan Kuster and apprentice coaches Sun Ha Yoon and Robert Mollicone. Tickets, $25-$60, are at 415-864-3330 and www.sfopera.com.

BRONFMAN DOES BEETHOVEN: A new piano concerto by German composer and clarinetist Jorg Widmann having not materialized in time for its planned world premiere at the hands of the estimable soloist Yefim Bronfman next week, the San Francisco Symphony has instead subbed in Beethoven's Fifth in E-flat major, known as the "Emperor" and arguably one of the most popular, most frequently performed piano concertos across the globe. But those who favor new music need not feel slighted. Also on the revamped program is the world premiere of "Pandora," a work for string orchestra expanded, at conductor Michael Tilson Thomas' suggestion, from a chamber trio composition by the same composer. And that composer would be the San Francisco Symphony's assistant concertmaster Mark Volkert, who at 40 years in is the longest-tenured member of the orchestra and a violinist whose original works have been played here several times before. Rounding out the program, which begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Davies Hall, is Richard Strauss' entertaining tone poem "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks."

There are repeat performances Dec. 7 and 8 in Davies Hall, but for the Dec. 6 concert, also at 8 p.m., the orchestra heads north to the brand-new Weill Hall in the Green Music Center at Sonoma State University, where it will give the first in a four-concert series in the new venue's inaugural season.

Tickets for all concerts, at $15-$150 (but topping out at $145 in the Green Center), are available at 415-864-6000 or www.sfsymphony.org.

Contact Sue Gilmore at sgilmore@bayareanewsgroup.com.