This month, we are pleased to introduce you to Bianca Spears, a native of Lockport, LA, and resident of New Orleans since 2007. College drew her to the Crescent City in 2007, where she pursued her BS in Psychology at Dillard University and then completed her master’s degree in Social Work at Tulane. A practicing social worker for almost 10 years, she is now the lead social worker for the HIV Outpatient Program at the University Medical Center.
Bianca’s first fascination with opera goes back a few decades. Specifically, it was soprano Leontyne Price who first piqued her interest in the art form opera at the age of nine. Already a budding clarinetist at her elementary school, Spears had developed a deep love and appreciation of jazz and classical music. Then she saw Price in Bizet’s Carmen. “Her voice and stage presence immediately drew me in,” Spears said. “I’ve been a lover of the opera ever since.” Her favorite operas to date are Bizet’s Carmen and the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and, when asked for a short list of operas she’d like to see in the future, she was quick to list Verdi’s Aida, Strauss’s Salome, and Rameau’s Platée.
In 2019, Spears saw pictures of the Sylvain Society’s annual Big Wig Ball online and knew instantly that she wanted to get more involved locally. “Once I heard that they were searching for a new co-chair, I immediately jumped at the chance to play a part in keeping opera alive in New Orleans,” she said. Bianca is now in her third year of serving as co-chair of the New Orleans Opera support group. She attends Board meetings regularly, supports NOOA events, and helps coordinate the group’s annual activities.
Last year, Bianca deepened her commitment by becoming a Founding Opera Sustainer – a monthly donor who supports New Orleans Opera’s programming year-round. “I am so proud to be a Founding Opera Sustainer!” she said. “I believe in the mission of the organization and want to see it continue to evolve and create positive change in our community.”
Spears has also been encouraged by the diversity of talent that New Orleans Opera includes in its casting for productions and knows how inspiring it can be to younger audiences to personally connect and identify with performers on stage. “As an African American woman, I would like to see more African American people and people of color on the stage. My hope is that this will encourage and inspire another generation of people who fall in love with opera.”
Thank you, Bianca, for everything you do on behalf of New Orleans Opera!