About UrbanArias


UrbanArias is ten-year-old opera company dedicated to producing short, contemporary operas – works that are about 90 minutes in length or shorter, and written within the last 25 years.
UrbanArias’ 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, the company has produced over 25 operas, 11 of which were world premieres, and 7 of which were UrbanArias commissions. UrbanArias 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.

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 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.

UrbanArias’ debut performance was Lucy, a 15-minute opera by Tom Cipullo, as part of a concert of American music at the Kennedy Center sponsored by Vocal Arts DC. The company produced festival seasons in 2011 and 2012, running multiple works in repertory. In the 2012-13 season, the company 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; 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 so as to appeal to both avid opera fans and first time opera-goers:

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

UrbanArias is proud of its fresh approach to opera and commitment to excellence. The company looks forward to continuing 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.

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