Hometown Opera brings classical style to Rochester

Kate Rogers hopes her love of opera catches on with music lovers in the Med City.

Hometown Opera Company
Stefanie Tranchida performs “Convien partir, La Figlia del Reggimento” during An Evening of Opera presented by Hometown Opera Company on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at Historic Chateau Theatre in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Are “ya” ready for an aria?

While opera has been something of a phantom in Rochester, a new organization called the Hometown Opera Company is working to change that. The company's first performance, a singer’s showcase, at the Historic Chateau Theatre this past Friday, Feb. 3.

Soprano Kate Rogers organized the new company and performance.

Besides Rogers, the new company’s first concert featured singers Michelle Howard, Kathryn Bisanti, Stefanie Tranchida, and Eleanore Sutherland accompanied by Jan Matson, Carol Engel and Rebekah Novinger. Each singer chose two operatic selections ranging from arias in “Carmen” and “Romeo and Juliet” to “The Magic Flute” and “Rinaldo.”

Rogers says all the performers worked hard to make the first performance possible. “These women are busy with their jobs and families, yet still have made time to invest in this project,” says Rogers, who also works at the Limb Lab in downtown Rochester as a medical secretary.


Rogers first became interested in opera when she was 17 and a senior at Century High School.

“I got the chance to sing the role of Gabriel in Haydn's 'Creation,' which is an oratorio,” she says. “It was this awesome soprano role, and I felt like I had found the style and genre that best suited my voice.”

Later, Rogers studied music as an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota Morris where she earned a degree in vocal music. “I sang in choir for basically all of my years of schooling,” says Rogers. “I think I’ve grown the most as a singer over the last few years in lessons.”

Since then, she’s studied with several teachers and coaches from Rochester and the Twin Cities.

After learning about opera projects where artists collaborated to start their own singing or opera groups, Rogers decided it was time to try it herself.

Hometown Opera Company
Kate Rogers performs “Padre, germani, addio!, Idomeneo”during “An Evening of Opera” presented by Hometown Opera Company on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at Historic Chateau Theatre in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

“Something about that really resonated with me,” she says. “I also just feel like building community is a beautiful and worthy cause. Creating something like this has been a dream for several years, so it's been fun to get it off the ground.”

After performing at the Chateau with Absolute Theatre, Rogers thought the venue perfect for the Hometown Opera Company’s first performance.

“The other members in the group and I thought the Chateau would be a perfect space for our event, so we reached out to Threshold Arts about it, and the timing and availability all worked out really well,” she says.


“Although opera is sort of a niche interest, there are plenty of people here who love it,” says Rogers. “I know tons of singers in Rochester who enjoy and appreciate opera, and I'm sure there are even more people, with some musical training in their background, who would like to be involved in a singing project for fun.”

Eleanore Sutherland came to the group after meeting Rogers through the local theater community. “(She) asked me if I’d be interested in joining a group of local opera people to bring some more classical music to Rochester in a way that is more accessible than traveling to the (Twin Cities),” says Sutherland. “There are a lot of classically trained singers in Rochester, and not very many opportunities to use those skills. Hometown Opera provides an opportunity for singers who perhaps aren’t as interested in musical theater.”

Sutherland says she’s enjoyed classical music and remembers her interest being sparked by a CD she had as a child called “Classical Child at the Opera.” Classical voice lessons in high school cemented her interest.

For the first Hometown Opera Company performance, Sutherland chose to perform “Mein Herr Marquis” from “Die Fledermaus” and “Intorno all’idol mio” from “Orontea.”

“I love the fact that the human body can produce the kind of sound we make in opera,” says Sutherland. “The experience of being in a large room and hearing a clear, resonant, unamplified voice completely fill the space is very cool and I think everyone should hear it at least once.”

Rogers says the Hometown Opera Company plans to continue creating opera projects for audiences and singers in Rochester. She says the group is considering ideas like presenting a concert of operatic duets or an opera workshop with simple costumes and piano accompaniment that focus on specific scenes from operas. “That might be a good stepping stone toward an actual opera,” she says. “I would also like to perform original art songs or arias from any new composers, and find a few more singers and musicians to grow our group.”

Each month, the group plans to meet at one of the accompanist’s studios to sing for each other and “brush up” on their repertoire. “We’re hoping to find more singers with classical or operatic training, especially men, since our group is just women as of now,” says Rogers.

“I think that anyone would fall in love with this art form when given the chance,” says Rogers. “I love the emotional expression. It feels good to sing these songs and emote, and share it with others.”


Hometown Opera Company
Kate Rogers holds a pep talk before “An Evening of Opera” presented by Hometown Opera Company on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, at Historic Chateau Theatre in Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Learn more

You can learn more about future Hometown Opera Company events by following the company on Instagram at You can also find the group online at .

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