The Juliet Letters


by Elvis Costello and the Brodsky Quartet


“Romeo is Calling You”


Thursday, July 11 at 8 PM

Friday, July 12 at 8PM

Saturday, July 13 at 8PM

Sunday, July 14 at 2PM

at Signature Theatre

Tickets are $47 and on sale now!

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Melissa Wimbish

Robert Wesley Mason

Aryssa Leigh Burrs

Directed by Cara Gabriel

With members of the Inscape Chamber Orchestra

Conducted by Robert Wood

Scenic and Lighting design by Jason Arnold, costume design by Nephelie Andonyadis

Don’t miss UrbanArias’ latest genre-defying offering!

60 minutes long; an audience talk-back will follow each performance.

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UrbanArias’ production of The Juliet Letters is supported by a very generous gift from the Arlington Arts Commission.


The Juliet Letters is UrbanArias’ latest foray into musical mashups. Three accomplished young opera singers with flexible voices and acute acting sensibility will interpret Elvis Costello’s plaintive ballads and gritty up-tempo rock songs in a new conception by Cara Gabriel.

Inspired by a professor in Verona who took it upon himself to answer correspondence sent to the fictional (and dead!) Juliet Capulet, The Juliet Letters is a song cycle in which each of the songs is a letter: love letters, begging letters, suicide notes, Dear John letters, breakup letters, and even junk mail.

In Cara Gabriel’s intriguing staging, the piece is a series of vignettes with distinct characters who play out their various obsessions and affections (or disaffections). It is ultimately a work about how we communicate about love.

CLICK HERE to read the lyrics to THE JULIET LETTERS

Elvis Costello describes The Juliet Letters as “a song sequence for string quartet and voice and it has a title. It’s a little bit different. It’s not a rock opera. It’s a new thing.” Released in 1993, The Juliet Letters, with its soulful lyrics and string quartet accompaniment rose to #18 on the UK Album Chart.

Calling it “extraordinary” and “eerily emotive”, Rolling Stone gave The Juliet Letters a rave review:

“Collaborating on the music and text with the string virtuosos in England’s Brodsky Quartet, the singer crafts a series of dramatic ballads in which passages written by male and female characters of varying ages and degrees of sanity tell stories of love, betrayal and death. Shakespeare’s most famous tragic heroine serves as a metaphor for the disillusionment they all experience in some way.”

UrbanArias’ production gives the piece multiple narrators instead of one singer, and their interplay and interaction create an immersive theater piece directed by DC-area favorite Cara Gabriel.

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CLICK HERE to read the lyrics to THE JULIET LETTERS



Melissa Wimbish, sopranoIn the world premiere of Tom Cipullo’s Josephine at UrbanArias, The Washington Post gushed, “… the afternoon belonged to Melissa Wimbish, who was creating the role of Josephine Baker in this world-premiere … Beautifully prepared, vocally stunning, and theatrically riveting, Wimbish effortlessly held the audience in her hand throughout this one-woman show.” The New York Times wrote of her “show-stealing turn as the hormonal pageboy Cherubino” in OnSite Opera’s revival of The Marriage of Figaro by Marcos Portugal. She is known for her chameleon-like vocal talent, which spans traditional, contemporary, and popular styles. Melissa made her Carnegie Hall solo recital debut in 2014 featuring a program of all-contemporary American art song and a world-premiere of Jessica Meyer’s song cycle Space in Chains. In 2017, she made a rousing solo debut in György Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with the Baltimore Symphony. At the Kennedy Center, she was a featured soloist in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Washington Ballet. Career highlights include Nimue in Camelot with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Carmina Burana with Washington Ballet, Candide with Baltimore Symphony, and Mozart’s Requiem with Richmond Symphony. She has performed with American Opera Projects, Baltimore Concert Opera, Opera Modérne, Annapolis Opera, Opera Delaware, Single Carrot Theatre, The Spirituals Project, Vocal Arts DC, the Denver Philharmonic, the National Philharmonic, American Modern Ensemble, Concert Artists of Baltimore, Manchester Choral Society, Maryland Choral Society, The Occasional Symphony, and Young Artists of America.

Alongside Britt Olsen-Ecker, Melissa fronts and leads Outcalls. They have rapidly established themselves as a genre-defying powerhouse in the Baltimore music scene. The band’s latest album was listed in Baltimore Magazine’s “Best Music of 2017.” Their single, “No King” won Best Vocal Performance in WTMD Radio’s Alternative Music Awards and was named one of The Baltimore Sun’s “30 Songs that Defined Baltimore in 2017.” Outcalls will release their first full-length album in spring 2020.

Robert Wesley Mason has been celebrated for his “gorgeous baritone” (Dallas Morning News) and visceral story telling ability, where he “deploys his mighty baritone to stunning effect, using interpretive phrasing and nuanced delivery” (Albany Times Union).

This past November, Wes returned to Nashville Opera in his role debut as Charlie in Heggie and Scheer’s Three Decembers. This February he returns to Fargo-Moorhead Opera for another run of Three Decembers, followed by his debut with Eugene Opera, reprising the role of Hannah Before in Kaminski, Campbell, and Reed’s As One. Additionally, this summer will see two more company and role debuts as he joins UrbanArias as a soloist in their production of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters and West Edge Opera for the West Coast Premiere of Mazzoli and Vavrek’s Breaking the Waves as Jan Nyman.

Other highlights include the title role in Hamlet with Fort Worth Opera, Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire with Kentucky Opera, Ping in Turandot with Nashville Opera, Father Flynn in Doubt with Union Avenue Opera, Jonathan in Siren Song with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Masetto in Don Giovanni with Opera Philadelphia and Opera Naples, Achilla in Giulio Cesare with Opera Roanoke, Escamillo in La Tragédie de Carmen with Syracuse Opera, Marcello in La bohème with Hawaii Opera Theatre, Fort Worth Opera, and Norwalk Symphony, Schaunard in La bohème with Crested Butte Music Festival, Zurga in Les pêcheurs de perles with Opera Delaware and Baltimore Concert Opera, the title role in Guillaume Tell with the Southern Illinois Music Festival, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Gulfshore Opera, the baritone soloist in Broadway Extravaganza with Opera Hong Kong, Sciarrone in Tosca with Dallas Opera, and Morales in Carmen with the Glimmerglass Festival.

Aryssa Burrs, sopranoAryssa Leigh Burrs hails from the Philadelphia area and has been seen performing in both Washington, DC and Chicagoland. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Music in Voice and Opera Performance at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. With Northwestern Opera Theatre, she has recently performed as Baba the Turk in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress and as Ursule in Berlioz’s Beatrice and Benedict. She was a featured soloist performing “Una Voce Poco Fa” with Northwestern’s Smile Orchestra, raising funds for the Students Making Inpatient Life Entertaining program. Being heavily involved in Choral Activities, Ms. Burrs sings with Grammy-Award-Winning Dr. Donald Nally’s Bienen Contemporary and Early Music Ensemble, where she will perform as the Soprano Soloist in David T. Little’s oratorio Am I Born.

During the 2017 and 2018 summer seasons, Ms. Burrs performed as an Emerging Artist with Seagle Music Colony in the Adirondacks. While there, she performed the title role in Mame, played Nireno in Giulio Cesare, Third Spirit in The Magic Flute, and Mother/Granny in Little Red’s Most Unusual Day.

Ms. Burrs is a recent graduate of the University of Maryland in College Park where she received both a Bachelor’s of Music in Voice Performance and a Bachelor’s of Music Education with a Choral/General concentration. While at UMD, Ms. Burrs performed as Kate in Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party, and sang with the UMD Chamber Singers in halls including The Kennedy Center, The Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, National Theatre of Korea, and the Strathmore Music Center. Ms. Burrs is a 2017 Springboard Grant Recipient from the Bruce Montgomery Foundation as well as an awardee of The Marian Anderson Young Artist Study Grant Award.

Ms. Burrs is dedicated to creating artistic spaces for women by being a co-founder of the Washington, DC organization “Phenomenal Woman” and a co-founder/music director of Brio, Chicagoland’s newest female vocal trio.

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