Hometown Opera Company is a group of singers in Rochester and surrounding areas who love opera and love sharing it with others. We create musical projects, partner with existing creatives, and provide a positive and supportive community for opera singers.
Since our debut concert in February of 2023 we have performed for area events like summer festivals, parties and gatherings, and have organized and hosted an educational workshop for students. We performed a Christmas concert December of 2023 in collaboration with Threshold Arts, and will be performing an anniversary concert February of 2024 called "Apricity: The Warmth of Sun in Winter" with Campion String Quartet at Rochester Civic Theatre. We have several exciting opera projects on the horizon that we are organizing with musicians and creatives in our community.
Hometown Opera Company's goal is to create singing projects for singers and audiences to enjoy, and for that purpose we maintain and encourage a spirit of collaboration with one another and other singers, musicians, and creatives in our community. We have high standards for ourselves as singers and for the quality and caliber of our performances. Our singers are well prepared to sing for an audience and in our salons, memorizing repertoire whenever possible. We bring our best forward as musicians and people, knowing that sharing our gift with others is a privilege and gift. Texts are learned with attention to diction of the languages sung, and singers have taken time to learn translations and develop interpretations of the character that is being performed. We always aim to honor the composer's intentions and regard common practices of the period and repertoire. Our best shines through when we understand that great singing happens as a result of consistent and dedicated practice, good technique, and applied musicianship. We have fun with each other while we take part in this practice that allows us to share part of ourselves in our humanity and connect with others.
Meet the singers
Founding member, soprano
Michelle Howard earned her BA in Music-Vocal Performance from BYU. She has enjoyed singing with the Rochester Symphony Chorale for the past 6 years. Michelle has recently performed with local theatre and is grateful to be a part of this opera community.
Artistic Director, Founding member, soprano
Stefanie Tranchida is originally from metro-Detroit, and she recently moved to Minnesota after living in Italy for the last seven years. While abroad she finished her Masters Degree in Music Education at Conservatorio di Musica G. Tartini, with a focus on voice, and choral conducting. Stefanie sang first soprano in Conservatorio G. Tartini’s Academic Choir, as well as the Michigan State University State Singers. In addition to her work with Hometown Opera Company, Stefanie currently sings with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra Chorale, and works as the K-12 general music and choir teacher at Lyle Public Schools.
Founding member, mezzo soprano
Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Music from the University of Kansas where she studied with New York Metropolitan Opera Mezzo-Soprano, Joyce Castle. In 2016, she spearheaded a non-profit initiative in Omaha, Nebraska called the Nebraska Opera Project. This organization produced creative and innovative Operatic performances that brought together both local professional musicians and students. Kathryn was a participant in the Spoleto Vocal Arts symposium in Spoleto, Italy where she received intensive training and performed at various Opera houses throughout the Umbria region. Currently, Kathryn teaches Elementary Music and High School Choir at Pacelli Catholic Schools in Austin, MN.
Erin Haefner, mezzo-soprano, hails from Byron, Minnesota. She received her bachelor’s degree in Flute Performance from Luther College in Decorah, IA and recently received her master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ. Erin’s 2022 opera credits include Margaret “Meg” March (Little Women), Daughter (Daughter), Ada Blake (A Certain Madness), and Rachel (If I Were You). Erin recently received the Frank and Sally Hansen Singer/Actor Award of Excellence. Erin has performed around the world, including London, Paris, and in the famous Vienna Musikverein. Erin currently resides in Byron, Minnesota, singing with the Rochester Symphony Chorale, Choral Arts Ensemble, and working with the Southeastern Minnesota Youth Orchestras (SEMYO) as Operations Coordinator and for the Rochester Symphony Orchestra as the Director of Stage Production and Orchestra Librarian.
Executive Director, Founding member, soprano
Kate is a Rochester native and first started singing as a youngster in school and church. Kate's "thing" was always music and choir, so when it came time to attend college she couldn't see herself doing anything other than studying music. After earning an undergraduate degree in vocal music education from University of Minnesota, Morris, she explored other career paths, and currently works as a medical receptionist at Limb Lab in Rochester and a voice and piano teacher at Rochester Academy of Music. Kate also sings Jazz with the Notochords, a big band composed of local musicians, and is studying singing and Alexander Technique through the Mind Body Music School out of St. Paul.
Meagan Cochran is a talented music professional who graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Opera Performance from Illinois Wesleyan University. She had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in countries like Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, and Germany, which expanded her musical knowledge and exposed her to different artistic traditions.
Meagan has a background in music performance, many forms of dance, stage managing, and coordinating. She is currently working as a Music School Administrator at Rochester Academy of Music and can been seen in performances with the Rochester Symphony Orchestra Chorale.
Megan Dotzler, mezzo soprano, was most recently seen singing in a local production with the Rochester Chamber Music Society, Here in this Garden in 2023. Another recent performance includes Sièbel in Faust with Opera Reading Project in 2021. She performed La Suora Infermiera and La Suora Zelatrice in Suor Angelica with Music On Site, Inc. in 2019. She also attended Chicago Summer Opera in 2019 where she performed Nireno in Giulio Cesare and performed scenes as Carmen (Carmen), The Witch (Hänsel und Gretel), and Noémie (Cendrillon). Past roles include Mercédès in La tragedie de Carmen/Carmen, Oktavian in scenes from Der Rosenkavalier and Nancy in Albert Herring with University Opera Theater at the University of Minnesota. She received her master of music degree from the University of Minnesota where she studied with Adriana Zabala and her bachelor of music degree from Concordia College, Moorhead. An avid choral performer, she is also a member and soloist with the Choral Arts Ensemble in Rochester, MN since 2016. Cancelled due to COVID-19, she was the alto soloist in Bach’s Johannes Passion with University Singers at the University of MN in 2020.
A native of Rochester, Paula learned to love music by listening to musical soundtracks on her parents' record player and through vigorous sing-alongs during family road trips. Later, playing flute in the band at Mayo High School provided a foundation of musical knowledge that kept her participating in musical groups throughout her adult life, including many years in church choir and a variety of community choirs. Paula came to solo vocal performance later in life, as her career in nursing at Mayo Clinic and raising her three children provided more than enough excitement for one person, thank you very much. Paula retired from nursing in 2015 and began pursuing singing in earnest, distinguishing herself as a vocalist by cantoring for church services, weddings, and funerals, performing with the Rochester Symphony Chorale, and volunteering with the Resounding Voices Chorus in Rochester. She is extremely excited to explore the world of opera performance with this group. When not singing, Paula enjoys travelling with her husband, Ron, gardening, and spoiling her three grandchildren and four grandcats.
Originally from Des Moines, IA, Jordan Brown is a local Rochester Singer and Educator. Jordan studied Vocal Performance at The University of Northwestern-St. Paul where he gained extensive experience in Opera and Musical Theater performance. During his time in university Jordan performed dozens of roles and sang consistently with the Northwestern Choir. In 2018 Jordan made his debut with Minnesota Opera in the production of Silent Night by Kevin Puts. During his time in the Twin Cities, Jordan sang with different choirs including the Cathedral of St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir and the Two Rivers Chorale. He currently teaches privately and sings with the Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester. His most recent performance was in collaboration with the Rochester Chamber Music Society and the premiere of Robert S.P Gardner’s chamber opera Here In This Garden.
Grant is a classically trained Bass from Stillman Valley, IL. IT was there that he grew the love for theater and performance that led him to Luther College in 2013 to pursue and graduate in 2017 with a degree in vocal performance. While there he studied with Baritone, Dr.Gary Moss, and was coached by Dr. Jessica Paul and Dr. Nicholas Shaneyfelt. Often described as Rich and Full, His voice is well suited to Basso Profundo and Basso Buffo roles. Roles performed include Bogdanovitch in Franz Lehar's The Merry Widow and Don Alhambra De Bolero in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Gondoliers. While not having performed in a Full opera for several years, He is super excited to Join Hometown Opera Company to help bring some opera to SE Minnesota!
Laurie Helmers holds degrees from NIACC (Mason City, IA) and WSU (Winona, MN). She has 6 decades of musical experience and performance, starting her career as a 4-year-old by singing to the cattle on her family's Iowa beef farm while doing chores! Laurie owns Music Matters Studio, where she teaches piano and voice. She is a church organist and also freelances as a solo pianist, accompanist and vocalist. Laurie was adjunct faculty for theatre at Riverland College in Austin. She continues to provide musical and artistic direction for theatres -- most recently for Rochester Civic Theatre's summer theatre youth camps. Laurie has a long resume of eclectic concert and stage performances ranging from roles as Mother in Menotti's opera Amahl and the Night Visitors to Miss Mona in the Broadway show Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and from singing country and rock in a road band called GYST to the soprano arias in Handel's Messiah. Other interests include playing scrabble, speed walking, doing jigsaw puzzles, reading historical fiction, and trail riding with her husband, John, and her son, Myatt, on their stable of quarter horses.