UrbanArias Blog



Dear friends,

We at UrbanArias could not be more thrilled with the performance of LUCY last Saturday at the Kennedy Center.  What a perfect way to launch the company!

Emily Albrink and Michael Anthony McGee sang wonderfully, Michael Baitzer played beautifully, and Pat Diamond’s staging was simple, elegant and touching.

It was a busy couple of days, and our first foray into the world of producing; I’m amazed it all ran so smoothly!

An overview, for those of you who are curious about the antics of a start-up opera company:

Monday, April 5

Transportation consternation.  We have set pieces that Pat has skillfully arranged for us to use free of charge – but how to get them to the Kennedy Center, and where to store them for a few days?  U-haul?  Possible, but not cheap once the days add up . . . fortunately, our board president Susan Derry came to the rescue with her mother’s van (used for her estate sale work).  Susan was our miracle worker, as later events would prove . . .

Tuesday, April 7

Bob flies to Denver for a gig with Opera Colorado.  We all keep murderous schedules.  And – we thought it was important to practice running UrbanArias from a remote location in case of . . . well, whatever.

Wednesday, April 8

Bob still in Denver, Susan muscles the furniture into the van with some help from Unviersity of Maryland grad students (thanks guys!), collects the wigs, and accidentally purloins a bench from UMD (natural, really — Susan and I were brought up on the Opera Bench school of staging — every opera has at least one bench).

Thursday, April 9

Many phone calls.  Train and plane schedules noted and organized.  Have we told enough people about this?  Maybe another email blast . . .

Friday, April 10

Bob flies back to DC.  Michael Anthony arrives in DC by train.  Everyone converges on UrbanArias HQ (Bob’s house) for a whirlwind rehearsal – musical work, staging, costume fitting, more furniture schlepping . . . pure synergy.  Anything is possible when you hire good people!

Saturday April 11

The big day . . . Susan and Bob get lost with the van in the bowels of the Kennedy Center on their way to delivering the furniture.  The KC crew is extremely helpful, however, and we’re good to go in no time.  The cast assembles for the sound check and run-through on the stage – it looks and sounds great (especially considering it’s 10 a.m.)!  VocalArtsDC’s Gabe Estrin deftly keeps us all organized.

One advantage of having an early sound check: we can adjourn to UrbanArias HQ for a quick photo shoot courtesy of Karen Redmond, who snaps some great pics we can use on the website.  Emily and Michael Anthony are alternately patient and vivacious as necessary; Susan has now assumed the role of costume mistress (ironing) and then wig mistress.  Now how many opera companies have board presidents who can pin curl?  I ask you.  Not to mention a board secretary who has an extra cummerbund.

Back to the KC for lunch, and then we’re on!

The performance is fabulous; Tom Cipullo has come down from New York to see us perform his work and is very pleased (even though I cut a measure after Michael Anthony’s aria – gotta watch that producer like a HAWK or he’ll pull some shenanigans)!

Receive applause, chat with fans, proceed to 600 Watergate for some well-earned libations – and to plan what’s next.  No rest for the wicked!

Thanks to all who came, and we promise you’ll see more of us soon.

Bob Wood

Almost there!

We’re less than 48 hours away from our debut at the Kennedy Center!  Everything is coming together nicely . . . producing sure is different from conducting, though.  Coordinating load-ins, moving furniture, lots of paperwork . . . we have an excellent team, however, and I know we’re going to present a memorable ten-minute extravaganza, and we hope all of our new fans can join us!

Tom Cipullo’s “Lucy” is a beautiful, lyrical, poignant, funny mini-opera.  It’s amazing what depth he’s achieved in such a short space.  It’s the story of an elderly woman who imagines a young man coming to visit her – a sweet and interesting take on memory, imagination, and whether or not a person’s concrete surroundings are as important as what goes on in her mind.  Musically, Tom gives us a wonderfully melodic score, with a few Puccini-like  phrases that clearly reflect this woman’s soul.  The aria for the Young Man is a real jewel – I predict that any young baritone in the audience will be writing Tom for a copy.

I look forward to hearing it all in rehearsal tomorrow, at UrbanArias HQ (my living room – hey, we have to start somewhere!)


Welcome to UrbanArias!

Opera. Short. New.

We like it, and hope you will, too!  Please browse the site and feel free to drop us a line.

This blog will be your most immediate source for updates on the UrbanArias festival – our performances, fundraisers, joys, sorrows, successes, excesses – essentially a chronicle of our progress as an opera company, and a window into what happens in an opera start-up.

It will be passionate, glorious, and occasionally seamy, just like the art form we produce.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Robert Wood