Handorf Company Artists | Opera Memphis

Handorf Company Artists

Handorf Company Artist Program

Opera Memphis' Handorf Company Artist program is generously sponsored bY
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Handorf
the Assisi Foundation
the Kathryn Brown Butler Family Foundation

The Handorf Company Artist Angel Fund is made possible by Dr. Veronica Engle

The Opera Memphis Handorf Company Artist Program provides career-building experiences to emerging singers and pianists through robust performance opportunities and personalized goals. Beyond the pursuit of artistic excellence, it seeks to provide the tools and entrepreneurial mindset necessary for citizen artists to champion opera in the 21st Century.

Our Handorf Company Artists receive a wide variety of performance opportunities including roles in our Masterworks Opera series; numerous appearances during 30 Days of Opera - Opera Memphis's award-winning program that brings a month of free performances to every corner of the Mid-South; and numerous recital and cabaret performances at an array of venues throughout the season. In addition to performing, our Artists engage with our diverse audiences by facilitating and participating in community events and working extensively as part of Opera Memphis' civic practice and advocacy.

Many of our artists have completed their graduate studies, but at Opera Memphis, we continue their training with coaching sessions from Music Director Cris Frisco and General Director Ned Canty, as well as visiting artists and coaches. They are learning not just skills and techniques for opera as an art, but also tools for opera as a profession. From topics like social media branding and public speaking to tax preparation, these various training sessions are crafted by Opera Memphis professionals to suit each artist's needs and ensure their success.


Spring 2023 Handorf Company Artists


Bass Matthew Soibelman

Upcoming Opera Memphis roles: The Sacristan in Tosca and the Colonel in The Falling and the Rising 

Matthew Soibelman, bass, is from Los Angeles, California. His most recent engagements were Simone in Berlin Opera Academy’s production of Gianni Schicchi and the role of Falstaff in Juilliard’s production of Nicolai’s Die lustigen weiber von Windsor. He received his bachelor’s degree from California State University of Northridge and his Graduate Diploma in Vocal Arts at the Juilliard School. He is a proud recipient of both the Novick Career Advancement Grant and the Career Bridges Grant. Matthew can be heard on the major motion picture soundtracks of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Transformers: The Last Knight.






Mezzo-Soprano Erika Vasallo

Upcoming Opera Memphis roles: Toledo in The Falling and the Rising

Erika Danielle Vasallo is a Cuban-American mezzo-soprano born and raised in Miami, Florida. In early fall, she will be returning to Rochester to join Finger Lakes Opera in their 2022 opera outreach session, where she will be performing the roles of Narrator and Cat in John Davies’ Pinocchio. Later this year, Erika will be returning as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with the Treasure Coast Community Singers and Chamber Orchestra and debuting as a soloist in New Presbyterian Church Concert Series.

Earlier this summer, Erika returned as a 2022 Young Artist with New York Opera Conservatory, where she performed the roles of La Zia Principessa and La Frugola in a double bill of Puccini’s Suor Angelica and Il tabarro. She made her Finger Lakes Opera debut as a 2022 Tomita Young Artist, where she performed the role of Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte and was showcased throughout Rochester in a variety of performances.

Erika is a 2023 District Round Qualifier in The Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition. She was a second-round finalist in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition and a semi-finalist in the Camerata Bardi International Vocal Competition. Other awards include the first-place winner in the Florida Gold Coast NATS Competition, regional winner in the Classical Singers Vocal Competition, and regional finalist in the New York Lyric Opera National Vocal Competition. Erika graduated with her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Florida/New World School of the Arts College Division. She then received her Master of Music degree in vocal performance from Florida International University, where she also was on the staff as an Adjunct Voice Professor.


Pianist Jacob Kerzner

Upcoming Opera Memphis roles: Rehearsal Pianist for Tosca and The Falling and the Rising

Jacob Kerzner is a multi-hyphenate musician who specializes in new works of musical theatre. He currently serves as the Associate Editor for the George and Ira Gershwin Critical Edition, the first-ever scholarly edition of the two brothers’ music and lyrics, sponsored by the University of Michigan's Gershwin Initiative. He holds an MA in Musical Theatre (Music Directing) from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, which culminated in a season of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival including the world premiere of The Jury by Jon Bauerfeld and Casey Kendall. Professionally, Jacob worked on the development teams for the recent Tony Award-winning productions of Oklahoma! and Hadestown, and he has spent summers working at The Muny, Berkshire Theatre Group, and Transcendence Theatre Company. As a performer, Jacob has sung at venues such as Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, and Lincoln Center. His performance highlights include the role of Tito in La Clemenza di Tito (IC Stage), a chorister in Rigoletto (Berkshire Opera Festival), and Britten’s Serenade for tenor, horn & strings. His original music has been featured on stage, in short films, and by middle/high school choirs. More info, including samples of his work, is available at jacobkerzner.com.

What past Company Artists are saying...


"The HCA program provided me the opportunity to learn through performance experience in a variety of scenarios. I performed leading roles on the stage with orchestra, as well as concerts within the awesome community of Memphis. I received necessary instruction, support and encouragement from staff. Thanks to the HCA program, I was also granted the opportunity to act as a representative of opera in the community of Memphis, which strengthened my awareness as an artistic advocate and my purpose as performer. I left the HCA program with a greater understanding and ownership of my artistry and performance."

Stephanie Doche | 2018-19 Company Artist



"I was a member of the Handorf Company Artist program in the 2019-2020 season, and I was very glad to have grown enormously as an artist and individual from my time in the program. Our outreach into the community allowed us to not only focus on our own artistic growth, but forge ties with the wider musical and artistic community in Memphis. The company truly operates as a cultural hub, and it was a privilege to connect and perform with other musicians who share a long history with Opera Memphis as well as the whole city of Memphis. I consider my experience at Opera Memphis to be one of the most formative of my career, and am glad to be an alumna of the program!"

Tahanee Aluwihare | 2019-20 Company Artist



"I arrived in Memphis in late August of 2019 and right away we were out in the community performing for 30 Days of Opera – a daunting performance-load that is truly unlike anything I had done before. The life of an opera singer can be a solitary and, at times, selfish one. We learn our music alone, we sit alone in our hotel rooms on gigs, we uproot and travel constantly and it all concludes with a bow to roaring applause. It’s easy to think that all this work is for the applause, but my time as a Handorf Company Artist taught me that my singing can be a civic act that can serve the emotional needs of the community around me. This became all the clearer when the COVID-19 Pandemic began."

Jake Stamatis | 2019-20 Company Artist