As Amida, in Cavalli's opera, L'Ormindo (1974, San Francisco)
As soon as Steve begins to speak, you realize that this is a voice that is “at home” on the stage. The 25-year Somerset resident spent his career in the arts, as bass-baritone for opera companies in the United States and abroad, and as Artistic Director for Young Audiences of New Jersey for the past 23 years.
The Chicago native began his studies of opera Indiana University—Bloomington, which has one of the top music departments in the country. Steve said that the atmosphere there was highly competitive, which gave him a good understanding of how life would be when he moved to New York upon graduation.
However, graduation would occur during the height of the Vietnam War, and knowing that the draft was in full swing, Steve decided to audition for and enlist in the Army Field Band, the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army. The band provided Steve with experience as a singer as well as emcee duties, and after his 3-year enlistment he finally made his way to New York to begin his opera career.
Steve’s warm bass-baritone voice netted him roles in various opera companies and he received high praise from critics as he toured the United States and South America. The role of the painter Marcello in “La Boheme” is his favorite. Steve liked that character and enjoyed singing a role “…where you feel the warmth of the audience”.
Steve still performs opera with his group “Opera Works”, presented in schools through the Young Audiences of New Jersey. This group introduces opera to kids in a light-hearted approach. Young Audiences of New Jersey provides outreach to schools with various artistic groups so that kids can understand, relate to and be creative themselves with the presentations.
He is a firm believer in the goal of arts groups, such as the Franklin Township Cultural Arts Council, that the arts improves the quality of life for a town and introduces people to new things. Steve recently retired as Artistic Director of Young Audiences of New Jersey and is contemplating what he would like to do next. “Arts will always be a part of my life” and the arts have certainly been lucky to have Steve as a guiding force.