Esteemed performer Steffanie Pearce is general director of Gulfshore Opera, a diverse company that introduces the art form to all by being accessible and affordable. Her contributions to opera in this area date to 2005 with her founding of Opera Naples.
An opera company’s working diva
“You have to be super-brave and really sing out!” Gulfshore Opera General/Artistic Director Steffanie Pearce tells the middle-school students who constitute the opera’s Harmony Choir. They are practicing for their first concert, appearing later that day on a bill with opera stars known on a local and international scale.
Pearce is all business about an hour before the show, wearing a black pantsuit and navigating between the choir – for which Gulfshore Opera recently was awarded a Community Impact Grant from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, for promoting arts education for children – to the music room, where an adult choral ensemble is practicing around a piano. With them she sings.
As well she should. Having performed with international opera companies and at Carnegie Hall, Pearce can do as well as teach. Her goal in founding the 2-year-old company is to make opera accessible and affordable to all.
Concert start time is approaching. A volunteer distributes T-shirts to the kids in the choir.
“OK, it’s time to get into my diva dress and think about what I’m going to say,” Pearce says, and leaves to change.