Maria Manetti Shrem was born and raised in Florence Italy, where she lived until she was 31 years old. As the birthplace of opera, Florence is a city bursting with art, culture, and classical music. At the young age of 15 years old, Maria attended a production of the opera La bohème with Renata Tebaldi and fell in love with the enigmatic art form. Music is always floating in the air at Maria’s Tuscan-style villa in Napa, where her collection of over 2,000 CDs stream from 55 audio speakers around the property. Although Maria never studied music formally, she says that she is sure to dedicate her next lifetime to such a noble pursuit. Rather, Maria attended school for language and economics and gained success in the world of fashion. During the 1960s through the early 1970s, she had her own company in Florence designing, manufacturing, marketing, and selling luxury clothing in the United States and Europe. After a divorce that left her with only $2,000 to her name, she fell in love again and, following her heart, moved to the United States. “When I first moved to the United States,” she says, “I went to the opera as often as I could but could only afford the standing room tickets. Opera gave me so much inspiration at that time. I waited outside the stage door entrance to the San Francisco Opera to meet the singers and over the years developed relationships with opera luminaries such as Luciano Pavarotti, Plácido Domingo, and Renée Fleming.”



Maria started work in the United States and became a distributor, first of Gucci products, later with Fendi and Mark Cross products. Her company, Manetti Farrow Incorporated, had 120 employees and sold these designer brands throughout in the US and Canada. Maria became the principal force behind the fashion house’s integration into American department and specialty stores. She sold her company several years ago to focus on managing her investments and supporting organizations such as ArtSmart, The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the San Francisco Symphony. She is a supporter of The San Francisco Opera, for which she annually sponsors two Italian opera funds, an Italian conductor fund, and an emerging opera star fund. She is also the founder and largest supporter of Festival Napa Valley where over 200 artists perform annually. In November 2016, Maria and her husband Jan Shrem opened the Manetti Shrem Museum of Contemporary Art at UC Davis, which has won 18 architectural awards. The museum, alongside galleries filled with world-class art, dedicated 30% of its space to education.

Maria currently resides in San Francisco, but also has residences in Napa and Florence.



Maria met Michael Fabiano through post-performance events at the San Francisco Opera. She was particularly interested that he and co-founder John Viscardi wanted to bring the study of opera and voice to underprivileged communities and schools that lack access to the arts, as well as to give paying jobs to singers who were not as fortunate as they were in the performance arena. Maria was impressed by Michael’s selfless focus to help other people. “I knew I wanted to get involved and support ArtSmart. I started out with a set contribution and have increased my support every year as the program has expanded and succeeded. We must support those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Art plays a very important role in education and in the larger scope of our society.”

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