About UrbanArias


Since its founding in 2010, UrbanArias has produced over 25 operas, 11 of which were world premieres and seven of which were UrbanArias commissions. In 2019, UrbanArias released its first commercial recording, Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case, which was selected by Opera News as one of the best albums of the year.

UrbanArias’ debut performance was Lucy, a 15-minute opera by Tom Cipullo, presented at the Kennedy Center in DC. The company then produced repertory festival seasons in 2011 and 2012 before settling into a format of two or three stand-alone productions. Between mainstage productions, UrbanArias holds “Opera Improv” evenings at DC-area comedy clubs and cafes.

Since the company’s inception, UrbanArias has demonstrated a commitment to the highest quality of musical and theatrical performances and has been recognized by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading media outlets as the premiere purveyor of contemporary chamber opera in the DC region and as a company with national significance. UrbanArias has produced works by noted composers Jake Heggie, Gregory Spears, Laura Kaminsky, Tom Cipullo, Peter Hilliard, Susan Kander, Marc Migó, Lori Laitman, Michael Nyman, and Jeffrey Smith, among many others.

Notable productions include the world premiere of Paul’s Case in 2013; the second professional production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied in 2011 and the world premiere of Josephine in 2016; the third professional production of Laura Kaminsky, Mark Cambell, and Kimberly Reed’s As One in 2015; and world premieres of Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi’s Blue Viola in 2015 and Last American Hammer in 2018, Sidney Boquiren and Daniel Neer’s Independence Eve in 2017, Jeffrey Smith and David Johnston’s Why Is Eartha Kitt Me?: A Love Story in 2018, a new adaptation of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters in 2019, and a newly-commissioned opera in film, The Roost, by John de los Santos and Marc Migó in 2020. UrbanArias debuted at the Keegan Theatre in Northwest DC in January 2020, and the company looks forward to returning there when public performances are again possible.

Performances are structured to appeal to both avid opera fans and first-time operagoers by:

  • Producing recently composed operas in English, reinforcing opera’s relevance as a theatrical and musical art form.
  • Performing works by composers whose music is accessible to a broad audience;
  • Featuring prominent national artists like Karen Slack, Emily Pulley, Sidney Outlaw, Michael Mayes, Keith Phares, Timothy Mix, Caroline Worra, Briana Elyse Hunter, , and Elizabeth Futral, and regional favorites like Ian McEuen, Jeffrey Gates, and Melissa Wimbish, and a host of other world-class singers, directors, and designers from across the country;
  • Performing in a range of Arlington and Washington, DC, venues to increase opportunities for audience engagement and to connect with a broader range of community partners.

UrbanArias’ fresh approach to opera and commitment to excellence contributes to the DC area’s artistic growth and cultural diversity and focuses national attention on opera as an important, timely, and current art form.

Take a listen to company founder Robert Wood and board president Susan Derry talk about UrbanArias in an interview on the National Endowment for the Arts’ podcast:

NEA PODCAST, March 2018