San Francisco Opera is the second largest opera company in North America. Gaetano Merola and Kurt Herbert Adler were the Company’s first two general directors. Merola led the Company from its founding in 1923 until his death in 1953; Adler was in charge from 1953 through 1981. Legendary for both their conducting and managerial skills, the two leaders established a formidable institution that is internationally recognized as one of the top opera companies in the world, heralded for its first-rate productions and roster of international opera stars. The Company’s season now contains approximately seventy-five performances of ten operas between September and July.