Hometown Opera Company was born from a group of connections of singers in late 2022. Kate Rogers, one of the groups original members, met Stefanie Tranchida at auditions for "A Christmas Carol" at the Rochester Civic Theatre, and the two singers connected instantly over their love for singing, classical music, and opera. Stefanie had just spent 7 years studying and teaching music in Italy and her and Mayo Clinic had brought her and her husband to the Rochester the year prior.
Kate had been dreaming about starting up a singing community in Rochester that would design and create artistic projects, and had done some research on smaller opera companies and pop-up opera projects around the country, but hadn't begun making any plans. With the mindset that "perfection is the enemy of progress" Kate decided that there was no time like the present to begin putting an event together.
November of 2022, Kate reached out to Stef and singer-friends, Michelle Howard and Eleanore Sutherland, about performing a singer's showcase in Rochester. The idea was to display a selection of opera favorites for an audience, simply to share the art from, and bring some beauty and joy. The three girls were on board with the idea, and Stef reached reached out to Katy Bisanti, another opera singer she had met through their roles as music educators. The five would soon become the original members of Hometown Opera Company.
That December, Kate was in a short Christmas play with Absolute Theatre and got the opportunity to perform in the Historic Chateau Theatre downtown Rochester. All of the singers felt that it would be the perfect venue for the showcase they were planning and preparing for.
Kate reached out to Threshold Arts at the Historic Chateau Theatre, and proposed the idea of "A Singer's Showcase". The idea was enthusiastically received, and it wasn't long before Threshold had secured a spot on the calendar for the event, only 6 weeks away.
Dutifully, Katy, Eleanore, Stef, Michelle, and Kate began planning for the event and excitedly sharing it with friends and family. The group secured multiple accompanists, held rehearsals, and gathered the materials needed. Threshold Arts designed marketing materials began promoting the event on social media. The group even had a few interview opportunities from local news sources interested in covering the event.
As the morning of Friday, February 3rd arrived, Threshold Arts had more tickets sold online than they had anticipated would attend the event. The ticket sales kept trickling in. By the time the event was getting started, the audience was nearly was twice as much as was originally expected, and the room was buzzing with energy and excitement.
When 7:30 came, the night began with Michelle Howard singing a lively and adorable rendition of "Ah je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo ed Juliette. After Michelle's aria came a tortured and beside herself Marie from La figlia del reggimento singing Convene parter with some deep emotion. Kate brought a devastated Ilia with Padre germani, addio from Mozart's Idomeneo, and Katy introduced her warm mezzo-soprano by singing Lascia ch'io pianga, from Rinaldo. Eleanore Sutherland graced the stage with Mein Herr Marquis or "Adele's Laughing Song" from Die Fledermaus and had the entire audience smiling with delight. Michelle slowed it down with Ach, ich, fuhl's, a desperate Pamina's plea for her Tamino to return, and Stefanie Tranchida brought a lucsious and expressive Servilla with S'altro che lacrime from Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito. Katy Bisanti brought the Habanera with L'amour est un oiseau rebelle from Carmen, and Eleanore brought a heartfelt and reflective Intorno all'idol mio from Orontea. Kate sung the final aria of the evening, Je dis que rien ne m'epouvante, a declamation of courage from Carmen's Micaela, and the group of girls transformed into gossipy townswomen as they closed out the evening by singing Saria possibile from L'Elisir d'amore.
The night was a great success thanks to all involved, and the audience went home with big smiles and happy hearts.
In the days and weeks following the singer's showcase, several fellow creatives, theatre directors, music educators, and singers reached out to express their support for the group, offering their time, talents, and resources to collaborate.
Hometown Opera Company is off and running, and thanks to our amazing community in and around Rochester, we are here to stay
Meet the singers
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.
Rich got a B.A. in music studies at St. Johns. Since then, he switched career paths and currently does neuro monitoring for surgeries at Mayo Clinic. He's always enjoyed singing and is excited to be reconnecting with other singers and with his classical roots.
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.
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.
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!