(From Naples Daily News, July 17th 2022 edition written by Harriet Howard Heithaus)

He isn’t like Don, the neighbor you’d invite to your backyard cocktail party. This Don would hit on every woman in sight, get feisty with any relative who calls him out and pick a nasty fight, with or without a margarita in hand.

We can hear the police sirens now.

This Don is Don Giovanni, title star of one of Mozart’s most famous operas, and he’s coming to both the Barbara B. Mann Hall for Performing Arts and Artis—Naples next April. Gulfshore Opera’s production is in both halls, with the Naples Philharmonic, for its grand opera. It’s one of several big names announced this week for its new season.

Steffanie Pearce, managing artistic director, was delighted to make those pairings possible, as she did last year for “Tosca.” But it doesn’t come easy, she concedes.

And that’s only the beginning, she continued. The staging for “Don Giovanni” ranges from street scenes to castle halls, a countryside wedding reception and a cemetery. There’s a murder and an ominous statue that doesn’t seem to stay put. 

“We’ve been doing a lot of Puccini and Verdi and wanted to do something more fun and lighter and with music we knew everyone would love,” Pearce explained. Josh Shaw, the director/designer who worked on its production of “La Boheme,” will return to work with Ardean Landhuis, the opera’s technical director.

Jorge Parodi, a familiar face to Gulfshore Opera viewers, will conduct. This production, because of its size, will only be at the two venues, she said. The Charlotte Performing Arts Center is included, however, in three productions of its other major opera, Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville.”

For Gulfshore, it’s ‘have opera, will travel’

Logistics are paramount for a company that relies on rented performing space, and Pearce is relieved that the theater at Silverspot Cinema in Naples has turned out to be viable for “Barber.”

“We were really nervous about ‘How are we going to make this work?’ but everyone had a blast,” she said of its performance of “The Bat’s Revenge,” a Hollywood restaging of “Die Fledermaus,” there last season.

Finding compact adult venues in Collier County that work for operagoers, where they can enjoy an alcoholic drink at intermission, has been tough, she said. Few places besides the Wang Opera Center, home of the other Southwest Florida company, Opera Naples, are available.

The two companies have largely sidestepped each other. But with Opera Naples interviewing for a new executive director, Pearce said she would talk with them if they’re open to it: “I would welcome that opportunity.”

During last season, Gulfshore Opera obtained its own home base at 9911 Corkscrew Road, Estero, which comprises offices and a rehearsal room. It has been a godsend, she said.

“It was a huge year of growth,” she said of the convenience having a central location has given them. “Every day I walk in and I’m so glad we found a lovely headquarters in a great location. We can hop on the highway and get anywhere easily.”

That’s important when you have three different locations for a single production, such as its premiere “Latin Infusion!” that’s a celebration closing out Hispanic Heritage month. The event is even changing ambience, from an al fresco performance at the Alliance for the Arts in Fort Myers to a show with tapas and drinks at the Shangri-La in Bonita Springs to a dinner with Cava at Bodega Ole in Naples.

Latin music, concerts on sale now

The Latin Infusion! events are on sale at Gulfshore Opera’s website now, as are its autumn series of GO Divas concerts and Taste of Opera Dinners. High season operas go on sale Aug. 8. Here are the major events as follow: 

Latin Infusion!: A five-piece Latin music ensemble with vocals crosses genres of Hispanic music.

  • 7 p.m  Nov. 3, Alliance for the Arts, Fort Myers, $35 and $50
  • 7 p.m. Nov. 15, preceded by tapas and drinks 5-6:45 p.m., Shangri-La Springs, Bonita Springs, $40 and $50
  • 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Bodega Ole, Naples, including concert and dinner with Cava cocktail and wine, $140

Mostly Mozart: 7 p.m. Jan. 26, Daniels Pavilion at Artis—Naples, Naples; $55

“The Barber of Seville”: Gioachino Rossini masterpiece of romance, subterfuge and comedy, with the barber’s famous “Figaro” aria.

  • 6 p.m. Feb. 19, Vineyard at Lamb of God Church, Estero, $35, $50, $75 (premium with wine reception and artists’ meet and greet)
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 23, Charlotte Performing Arts Center, Punta Gorda, $35, $50, $65
  • 6 p.m.  Feb. 26, Silverspot Cinema, Naples, $125 (includes performance plus “meet the artists” reception)

Gulfshore Opera Gala:  4 p.m. March 12 concert at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church; 5:30 p.m. dinner and alga at the Club at the Strand. Concert only, $45, $60 and $75; concert, reception and dinner, $300

“Don Giovanni”: Wolfgang AmadeusMozart’s famous opera of the notorious womanizer’s conquests and his downfall. With the Naples Philharmonic, Jorge Parodi conducting.

  • 7 p.m. April 21,  Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, Fort Myers; tickets starting at $28
  • 7 p.m. April 30, Artis—Naples, Naples, tickets starting at $49

For information and tickets, see gulfshoreopera.org.

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com. Reach her at 239-213-6091.

From Naples Daily News, July 17th 2022 edition.