Meet Our Founder

With over 30 years of experience in the field of opera, Steffanie Pearce is a producer, director, performer and teacher of the great art form. Born in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Ms. Pearce began her career as an operatic soprano with formal studies at The Cleveland Institute of Music finishing at The University of Southern California with a double major in opera performance and acting. She completed apprenticeships with both the Cincinnati Opera and the San Diego Opera and won many international vocal Competitions including the Pavarotti Competition, Montreal International, D’Angelo and the American Traditions competition. She went on to an International singing career with opera companies including Opera de Marseille, Opera Lisboa, Opera Colorado, The Opera Company of Philadelphia, San Diego Opera and The Buxton Festival in England performing at such major theaters as Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The Hollywood Bowl, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and The Philadelphia Academy of Music. 

Steffanie Pearce

General Director

She moved to Naples in 2000 and founded Southwest Florida’s first opera company, Opera Naples, in March, 2005. She served as General/Artistic Director, budgeting and casting productions, creating outreach programs, teaching, stage directing and fundraising until her separation from Opera Naples in May, 2014. In June of 2014, she re-organized and expanded into Lee and Charlotte County with the creation of Gulfshore Opera. She lives in Collier county with husband Samuel Vasquez, daughter Aria and many family members living in Lee and Collier Counties.

In 2016, Ms. Pearce was honored by WGCU Makers Award. Chosen as one of five women in all of Southwest Florida, she was recognized as an authentic, passionate and inspiring woman who will leave a special lasting impact on the people, economy and culture of Southwest Florida.

Michelle Westley

Operations Director

Meet Our

Operations Director

Currently, Michelle is responsible for the organization and coordination of office operations which includes programming and monitoring the ticketing and patron management system, coordinating donor relations, and supervising and directing volunteers. Currently, Michelle is responsible for the organization and coordination of operations which includes office administration, programming and monitoring the ticketing and patron management system, coordinating donor relations, overseeing the marketing team, and supervising and directing volunteers.

Meet Our

Financial Manager

Amy began her career in 1992 at Capital One Bank in Springfield, MO, in the accounting department after receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Missouri State University. In 2008, Amy and her family relocated to Cape Coral, Florida, after vacationing in this area for many years and falling in love with the Southwest Florida community. Amy took the plunge into business ownership in 2011, starting Freelance Bookkeeping to provide small business owners with a full range of bookkeeping and financial support services. In 2018, Amy began serving Gulfshore Opera for bookkeeping and financial support services.

Amy Brower

Financial Manager

Jorge Parodi

Music Director

Meet Our
Music Director

Internationally acclaimed conductor Jorge Parodi has led several productions at The Atlanta Opera, New York City Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Opera Orlando, Opera Tampa, Savannah Opera, Buenos Aires Lírica, The Banff Centre and The Juilliard School.  Recent credits include the World Premiéres of Coppola’s Lady Swanwhite for Opera Tampa, and John Musto’s Rhoda and the Fossil Hunt in a coproduction of On Site Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Pittsburgh Opera-.

Maestro Parodi is the General and Artistic Director of Opera Hispánica, the only company in the United Sates focused on the Hispanic vocal repertoire and on the Latin perspective.  Also he is the Music Director of the Senior Opera Theatre at the Manhattan School of Music and he has been a faculty member at The Juilliard School for over a decade.  His work was the subject of a featured interview in Opera News.

Parodi is also the Music Director of Opera in Williamsburg (Virginia), the Music Director of the International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia, and the Founder and Artistic Director of the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy.

Meet Our
Artistic Operations Manager

Renee Ludwig’s involvement in the arts and love for music and theater started with church performances at a very young age. She relocated from Ohio to SW Florida with her family in 1988. Unable to choose between sign language and drama, she graduated from University of South Florida with a degree in both Theatre Arts and Communication Disorders. An educator in the School District of Lee County for nearly 25 years, Renee holds certifications in both Drama and Secondary Math. With a diverse skill set in production and management, she has held various positions with Stageworks Theatre – Tampa, Players Circle Theater, and IATSE Local 647. The opportunity to join the GO team combines the best of music and theatre in a new form that Renee is eager to explore.

Renee Ludwig

Renee Ludwig

Artistic Operations Manager

Claudia Polzin

Development Manager

Meet Our
Development Manager

Claudia is a well-known advocate for the performing arts in Southwest Florida and has been a resident in the region for over 20 years. Her career began in education as a music and theatre teacher and then moved to the non-profit world where she has spent many years in the work of development and education for nonprofits. 

In Southwest Florida, she worked for the Philharmonic Center for the Arts for 12 years as education and development director. Following that position, she worked for the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee, the Community Foundation of Collier County and the Director of Development for Classic South Florida – 88.7.

Since 2015, she has worked as a consultant to nonprofits in Southwest Florida. Having worked with Steffanie in a consulting capacity, it was a wonderful transition to join the staff of Gulfshore Opera as the Development Manager.

Meet Our

Technical Director

Over a span of three decades, Ardean Landhuis has amassed over 300 professional production credits in the areas of Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Technical Direction, Stage Management, Opera Performance and Stage Direction in a variety of Opera and Theatre productions across the country. He has recently designed LA BOHEME, LA TRAVIATA, BAT’S REVENGE, TOSCA, BARBER OF SEVILLE and DON GIOVANNI GO productions.

Ardean Lanhuis

Technical Director

Juliana Alfano

Youth Engagement Coordinator

Meet Our Youth Engagement Coordinator

Youth Engagement Coordinator, Juliana Alfano, relocated to Fort Myers from Lancaster, PA where she worked as a private voice instructor, music director, and accompanist. She earned her Master’s degree in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from The Pennsylvania State University where she enjoyed many performing opportunities with Penn State’s Opera Theater. Some favorites included Phyllis in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, Morgana in Handel’s Alcina and Poppea in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea. Her training outside of Penn State has taken her to New York City, Austria and beyond. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from The Crane School of Music in northern New York, where she grew up. Juliana continues to teach voice lessons virtually with her students back in Pennsylvania and now serves as the Director of Music for Lamb of God church in Fort Myers. She is delighted to serve as GO Youth Engagement Coordinator and to be a member of the GO Divas.

Gulfshore Opera is an equal opportunity employer and, consistent with our mission, we embrace equal opportunity employment and inclusiveness and will not discriminate in any way. We will take affirmative action measures to ensure that we avoid discrimination in employment, recruitment, advertisements for employment, compensation, termination, upgrading, promotions, and other conditions of employment against any employee or job applicant on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, age, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Gulfshore Opera will not tolerate discrimination or harassment based on any of these characteristics.

Join Our Team
Of Performers, Volunteers
& Contributors

GO volunteers have an excellent opportunity to share their skills and love for the arts as they connect with people of all ages and backgrounds.  Whether you are a high school or college student, a working adult or retiree, we have opportunities for you to enrich your life and the lives of others, meet people with similar interests, and help fulfill our mission while having fun!

Volunteers are a crucial part of the operation of the Gulfshore Opera whether you help onstage, backstage, or front of house (ushering). 

Our volunteers are integral to our success!