Join us for Mini-Operas and Opera Improv at IOTA!

75 minutes of light and dark comedy at Clarendon’s famous IOTA Club



Tracy Olivera
Melissa Wimbish
Joshua Baumgardner
Kevin Wetzel
and Tim McReynolds

IOTA is located in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, VA, and is easily accessed by Metro via the Orange Line from the Clarendon station. You can find directions on IOTA’s website, and the address is 2832 Wilson Blvd. Both street parking and private garage parking are available. Per IOTA’s guidelines, no one under 21 is admitted.


We will present three “mini-operas” and several segments of audience-directed “Opera Improv,” in which YOU get to witness us create new opera scenes based on your suggestions. There are a surprising number of mini-operas which relate to blind dates and personals ads; UrbanArias is pleased to present the very best of the genre.

Camera Obscura

Text by Robert Patrick Music by Jonathan Sheffer

UrbanArias reprises its hit from January 2011’s “Seven Mini-Operas in an Hour” program. Camera Obscura is a prescient take on video phones, webcams, and Skype. Squirm and enjoy as a time lag wreaks havoc on a couple’s attempt to connect in the ether.

He – Kevin Wetzel
She – Melissa Wimbish
Man – Joshua Baumgardner
Woman – Tracy Olivera

Piano – Tim McReynolds
Direction – Alan Paul

At the Statue of Venus

Text by Terrence McNally Music by Jake Heggie

You’re a successful, single woman, somewhere north of 35, and your friends have set you up on a blind date. You play along, and agree to meet this guy in front of the statue of Venus at the art museum. What are you thinking as you wait? Jake Heggie, composer of Dead Man Walking, and Terrence McNally, author of Master Class, give us a funny and heart-warming portrayal of a smart, successful, and touchingly vulnerable woman as she waits for a chance at true love, while imagining the worst.

Rose – Tracy Olivera

Piano – Tim McReynolds
Direction – Alan Paul


Texts by Craigslist Advertisers Music by Gabriel Kahane

This set needs no explanation: eight of Craigslist’s most hilarious ads set to music. Kahane writes that he loves Mahler, and that shows in this wonderful set – imagine old Gustav, instead of the Kindertotenlieder, writing a set based on personals ads in the . . . well, ads like this didn’t run in those days.


Melissa Wimbish
Joshua Baumgardner
Kevin Wetzel

Piano – Tim McReynolds

Watch composer Gabriel Kahane perform an excerpt from his work Craigslistlieder below:


Melissa Wimbish, sopranoMelissa Wimbish made her professional operatic debut as Barbarina with the Baltimore Lyric Opera in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in March 2012. She recently made her Kennedy Center recital debut as a winner of the 2011 Vocal Arts Society Discovery Recital Series and will return in March 2012 for a recital featuring songs of Barber, Schubert, Strauss and Wolf. A regular featured soloist with the Metropolitan State College of Denver Symphony Orchestra, she performed Mozart’s “Vorrei spiegarvi, O Dio!” as a concerto competition winner as well as the soprano soloist in both Orff’s Carmina Burana and David Brunner’s Ecstatic Songs. She was invited to be the soprano in the world premiere of “Venus Transiens” by composer Fran Pierson and will return in January 2012 to premiere Cherise Leiter’s Songs of Jane Austen. Opera productions include the title role in Manon with Peabody Opera, the Lyric Soprano role in Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco, Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Chesapeake Concert Opera (Blondchen cover), Die Fledermaus with Peabody Opera (Adele cover), as well as the monodrama for soprano by Poulenc, La voix humaine.

As an actress, Ms. Wimbish’s roster of theater experience boasts two “Best of Baltimore” companies including Single Carrot Theatre and Glass Mind Theatre. She premiered the role of Laura in the original one-act by Rebecca Wyrick, Newer Stranger in September 2010. This was followed by another premiere as Andy Two in Rich Espey’s original work Three Andys based on the life of Andy Warhol. She performed the role of the Cuban Singer with Single Carrot Theatre in Linus & Alora by Andrew Irons as well as Reverend Beaux in Young Jean Lee’s Church.

She is currently pursuing her Graduate Performance Diploma in Chamber Music at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University where she is the proud recipient of the Douglas and Hilda Perl Goodwin Endowed Scholarship Fund for Opera.

Tracy OliveraSoprano Tracy Lynn Olivera appeared in the 2009 revival of Ragtime on Broadway, and has performed locally in a number of theaters, including the Kennedy Center (Sondheim Festival, Ragtime), Signature Theatre (Les Miserables, Brother Russia, The Boy Detective/The Hollow, Sweeney Todd, Allegro Side Show), and the Olney Theatre Center (The Sound of Music, Carousel) She was honored to be a part of Mary Zimmerman’s new adaptation of Candide, which premiered at the Goodman in Chicago, and then ran at the Shakespeare Theatre here in DC. Ms. Olivera is a 5 time Helen Hayes Award nominee, and has a degree in Vocal Performance from Catholic University, where she studied under Sharon Christman and Michael Cordovana. She has taught voice and musical theater performance at Catholic University, the Theatre Lab, Signature Theatre, Adventure Theater-Music Theater Center, and privately. Current Project: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Signature Theatre.

Joshua Baumgardner, tenorTenor Joshua Baumgardner is a native of Abingdon, Virginia. Joshua recieved his B.M. in Vocal Performance at James Madison University under the tutelage of Dr. John Little, and an M.M. in Vocal Performance at Florida State University where he studied with soprano Shirley Close. In 2011 Joshua won FSU’s prestigious Hannah Beaulieu Graduate Vocal Competition. Joshua has performed a variety of well known operatic roles such as Lensky in Eugene Onegin, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Ferrando in Mozart’’s Cosi Fan Tutte, Camille de Rossilon in Lehar’s The Merry Widow, as well as The Englishman in Ibert’s Angelique. Joshua has also had the great honor of perfoming several scenes as Lenny in Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men at a benefit for the composer.

In 2010 Joshua made his European debut singing the role of Tamino in Mozart’s Die Zauberfloete at the Mittelsaechsisches Theater in Freiberg, Germany. Mr. Baumgardner also stepped in on short notice to sing several performances of The Armored Man in the same production after the house tenor became ill.

Kevin Wetzel, baritoneAfter completing his graduate studies at The Peabody Institute, baritone Kevin Wetzel was immediately engaged in professional work throughout the country. Known for his “sturdy, warm-voiced baritone” and “admirably finished product” (Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun), appearances include Escamillo in Carmen with Sarasota Opera; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Renato in Un ballo in maschera with Opera in the Heights; Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, Morales and Le Dancaïre in Carmen, the Mandarin in Turandot, and Montano in Otello, with Arizona Opera; Germont in La traviata and Marcello in La bohème with Chesapeake Chamber Opera; the Customs Officer in La bohème, and Sciarrone in Tosca, both with Virginia Opera; Assan in The Consul, and the Commissionario in La traviata, with Glimmerglass Opera, the Imperial Commissioner in Madama Butterfly with Baltimore Opera Company; Baron Douphol in La traviata, and Tom/John in Henry Mollicone’s The Face on the Barroom Floor with Central City Opera; John in the world premiere of Catherine Reid’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, and Count Almaviva (cover) in Le nozze di Figaro, all with Peabody Opera. He was also given the privilege of creating the role of Sir “Bertie” Bland in the world premier of The Alien Corn by Thomas Benjamin with Peabody Opera. He has also appeared in concert and recital with the Russian Chamber Arts Society of Alexandria, Virginia; the U.S. State Department; the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia; the Russian Embassy; the Peabody Concert Orchestra; and The Kennedy Center. Kevin is a winner of the Washington, D.C. district of the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions, First Prize winner of the Sylvia Green Voice Competition, and recipient of the Lindauer Memorial Prize at the Annapolis Opera Competition.

Timothy McReynolds, pianoPursuing a career that embraces art song, opera, chamber music, and cabaret, pianist R. Timothy McReynolds is also active as a teacher and vocal coach. He is a member of the Voice/Opera faculty of the University of Maryland, School of Music, and the former Music Director of Towson University’s Music for the Stage. He has participated as vocal coach/pianist for the Washington National Opera’s Opera Institute and the Aspen Music Festival. He was Instructor of Piano at American University in Washington, D.C. and Loyola University of Maryland, where he remains as pianist for the Vocal Masterclass Series.

He has toured internationally in concerts, cabarets, and masterclasses in Mexico, Germany, and Austria, as well as across the United States. He also performed in recital with acclaimed bass-baritone, the late William Warfield. He has been heard with, among others, Linda Mabbs, Francois Loup, Isabel Leonard, Timothy Mix, Danielle Talamantes, and Colleen Daly. The Washington Post hails him as the, “perceptive accompanist”, the Baltimore Sun, an “excellent pianist”, while the website Classical Journal proclaims him as the “brilliant accompanist” in a recital with mezzo-soprano, Delores Ziegler. He continues his close association with the Washington (D.C.) Vocal Arts Society and their Discovery Recital Series. Recent concert venues include the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Washington, D.C., the Maryland Arts Festival in Baltimore, a state tour of Maryland with the Annapolis Symphony, the Egyptian Embassy Concert Series in Vienna, Austria, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Dr. McReynolds received his B.M. from Indiana University, M.M. from the University of Michigan, and completed his D.M.A. at the University of Maryland. His teachers have included Edward Auer, Martin Katz, Robert McCoy and Rita Sloan. He has participated or served as pianist for the masterclasses of John Wustman, Margo Garret, Steven Blier, Brian Zeger, Suzanne Mentzer, Vinson Cole, Vivica Genaux, William Bolcom, John Musto and Richard Hundley. He recently recorded a CD to be released in 2012 of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin with tenor Bryce Westervelt. Another CD recording with the chamber music group, Greenbrook Ensemble will also be released in 2012. His recent concert schedule includes venues in New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Vermont, and Pennsylvania.

Alan Paul PhotoAlan Paul is the Associate Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company. At STC he has directed The Boys From Syracuse, the Free-for-All production of Twelfth Night, and numerous galas and special events. At STC he has also assistant-directed 13 shows for Michael Kahn, David Muse, Rebecca Taichman, Gale Edwards, Mary Zimmerman, Jonathan Munby, and Maria Aitken. Other directing credits include I Am My Own Wife at Signature Theatre, Man of La Mancha at Catholic University, numerous productions for the Source Festival, and regional productions of Richard II and Six Degrees of Separation. He has directed readings for Arena Stage, The Studio Theatre, The Phillips Collection, Georgetown University, The Goethe Institut, and The National Academy of Sciences. Alan has also worked as a musical director and conductor at many Chicago theatres. He is a graduate of Northwestern University.