About UrbanArias


UrbanArias is ten-year-old opera company dedicated to producing short, contemporary operas.  Everything we produce is 90 minutes in length or shorter; everything we produce was written within the last 25 years.

Our mission is to expose DC-area audiences to engaging, accessible, and entertaining operas; to provide a professional venue at which both established and emerging composers can present their shorter works; to commission new, short operas regularly; and to bring new audiences to the art form through relevant, current material.

UrbanArias has been producing short opera since 2010. Over the last ten years, we have produced over 25 operas, 10 of which were World Premieres, and 6 of which were UrbanArias commissions. We have also released a commercial recording, of Gregory Spears’ first opera Paul’s Case, which was selected by Opera News as one of the top new albums of 2019.

We are saddened that live performances are not possible in this particular moment, but we are hard at work planning a 2020-21 season that includes new work both for a virtual audience and an in-person one. In the meantime, we are streaming archival content, accompanied by conversations with the artists involved on our productions over the years.

Since our inception, we have demonstrated a commitment to the highest quality of musical and theatrical performances, and have been recognized by The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other 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, Laura Kaminsky, Tom Cipullo, Peter Hilliard, Lori Laitman, and Gregory Spears, among many others.

Our debut performance was at the Kennedy Center; we performed Lucy, a 15-minute opera by Tom Cipullo as part of a concert of American music sponsored by Vocal Arts DC. We produced festival seasons in 2011 and 2012, running multiple works in repertory. In the 2012-13 season, we began offering two or three stand-alone productions a season, with the addition of several fun and hilarious “Opera Improv” evenings interspersed between them.

Notable productions include the World Premiere of Paul’s Case in 2013, and its subsequent transfer to the PROTOTYPE Festival in New York; the second professional production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied in 2011; the third professional production of Laura Kaminsky, Mark Cambell, and Kimberly Reed’s As One in 2015; the World Premiere of Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi’s Blue Viola in 2015; the world premiere of Cipullo’s Josephine in 2016; the World Premiere of Sidney Boquiren and Daniel Neer’s Independence Eve in 2017; the World Premiere of Jeffrey Smith and David Johnston’s Why Is Eartha Kitt Trying to Kill Me?: A Love Story in 2018; the World Premiere of Hilliard and Boresi’s The Last American Hammer in 2018; and a new adaptation of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters in 2019.

UrbanArias debuted at the Keegan Theatre in Northwest DC in January 2020, and we look forward to returning there when public performances are again possible.

Our performances are structured so as to appeal to both avid opera fans and first time opera-goers:

  • We perform works by composers whose music is accessible to a broad range of audience members;
  • We feature prominent national artists like Emily Pulley, Michael Mayes, Keith Phares Timothy Mix, Caroline Worra, Briana Elyse Hunter, and Elizabeth Futral, and local favorites like Ian McEuen, Jeffrey Gates, and Melissa Wimbish, as well as a whole host of other fantastic singers, directors and designers from across the country;
  • We perform in other Arlington and DC venues to enhance our presence in the community;
  • Because we produce recent operas in English, we reinforce opera’s relevance as a theatrical and musical art form to our current lives.

We at UrbanArias our proud of our fresh approach to opera, and our commitment to excellence.  We hope to make a lasting contribution to the area’s continued artistic growth and cultural diversity, as well as focusing national attention on opera as an important, timely, and current art form.

We look forward to another decade of entertaining you!


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