Sophia Steffan



Competition Winner

Born: October 7, 1930 (High Point, NC)

Died:  February 22, 2023 (Amherst, MA)

Sophia Steffan (Ellsberg), mezzo-soprano, was named a winner in the 1959 Walter W. Naumburg Competition.

Her parents came to the US from Turkey in the early part of the 290th century, however, they considered themselves to be Greek.

At age 15, Steffan showed signs of having a beautiful voice. She was the "entire choir" of her church accompanying herself on the organ. Encouraged by her high school chorus director she pursued vocal studies at Northwestern University, at the University of North Carolina, where she sang twenty Carmens with the Grassroots Opera Company. She also attended the Juilliard School of Music.

Steffan sang with the Juilliard Opera Theatre, Empire State Music Festival, Aspen Summer Festival, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera, and numerous other companies. With the Handel Society of New York she recorded several operas, where she sang the leading roles of Ariadante, Tamerlano, Judas Maccabeaus and Orlando.

Steffan taught voice privatley as well as at Manhattanville College in Purchase, and the Hart College of Music in Hartford, CT.

Excerpt from The New York Times review, February 17, 1957

Sophia Steffan, Mezzo-Soprano. Heard in Recital

"the young artist has a pleasing stage manner, and her singing shows both brains and imagination. The three Schubert songs she performed were done with taste and a comprehension of what the songs were about." J.B.


1959 Naumburg Competition

First Prize

Commissioned Works

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Naumburg Performances

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Recording Awards

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