January 14 Performance at Artisphere


Back by Popular Demand!


Our performances on 10-10-10 were so successful that we have added another evening of mini-operas on

January 14, 2011 at 7 and 9 p.m.
in Artisphere’s Black Box Theater in Arlington


Tickets on sale now!

Join us in the New Year for remarkably short operas — each between 5 and 15 minutes long. The entire program lasts an hour.

To buy tickets, click either 7 p.m. or 9 p.m..

Artisphere’s ticketing website will open in a new window.
Or, call 1-888-841-2787 to reach the Artisphere Ticket Line

$15 General Admission, $12 Senior, Military and Students.  Artisphere will add a convenience fee of $2.60 to each ticket when you place your order.

For directions and transportation options to Artisphere, click here.

Our program:

Betty Box Office

Music by Jack Perla, libretto by Ken Gass

It’s a well-known fact that many employees in performing arts organizations have . . . aspirations.  Betty is no exception.  Take a look at what we deal with at the UrbanArias office.

Starring Meghan McCall, James Rogers and Rolando Sanz


Music by Jake Heggie, Libretto by David Patrick Stearns

A dark and fascinating look at the I Love Lucy characters, and how they deal with (and enable) domestic abuse.  From the composer of Dead Man Walking.

Starring Meghan McCall, Edrie Means, Rolando Sanz and James Rogers

Trust Me

Words and Music by Seymour Barab

Beloved composer Seymour Barab has composed a delightful cycle of short operas called “In Questionable Taste”.  Each tells a well-known (and sometimes bawdy) joke . . . don’t worry, the three we’re doing this evening are all pretty clean.

Starring Edrie Means

The Act

Music by Lori Laitman, text by H.L. Hix

Celebrated DC-area composer Lori Laitman offers us an intriguing view of a knife-throwing duo — who, if they were being honest, would tell you they wish they didn’t have to miss.

Starring Meghan McCall and Rolando Sanz


Words and Music by Seymour Barab

Another opera from “In Questionable Taste”.  What happens when a man and a woman are assigned the same hotel room by mistake?  If you know the punch line, don’t tell your neighbor.

Starring Edrie Means and James Rogers

Maternal Instinct

Words and Music by Seymour Barab

Our final installment from “In Questionable Taste”.  Altruistic (and strategic) couple hires promiscuous (and equally strategic) maid.  Who wins?

Starring Meghan McCall, Edrie Means and James Rogers

Camera Obscura

Music by Jonathan Sheffer, Libretto by Robert Patrick

UrbanArias reprises its hit from 10-10-10.  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.

Starring Meghan McCall, Rolando Sanz, Edrie Means and James Rogers

All operas will be directed by Matthew Gardiner, and accompanied by pianist Robert Mollicone

Our Artists

Meghan McCallPraised for her “bell-like clarity and fine control” and “radiant full-bodied voice” by The Washington Post, soprano Meghan McCall is establishing herself as a young artist to watch. She has been hailed for possessing a “beautifully and flawlessly operatic voice” (The West Highland Press). She most recently made her Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium debut in a world premiere where she created the role of Mary Magdalene in Marcos Galvany’s opera Oh My Son.

Miss McCall earned her BA in Music Literature from Northeastern University and her MM from The University of Maryland Opera Studio where she worked with world-renowned bass Francois Loup. Directly after her graduation she was invited to join the Opera Lafayette Young Artist Program which specializes in 17th and 18th century French repertoire. Ms. McCall made her Kennedy Center debut in May of 2010 with Opera Lafayette as Juliette and La Bergère in Philidor’s Sancho Panza. She also made her debut recording with Sancho Panza on NAXOS, which will be released in 2011.

Edrie MeansEdrie Means has sung in the world premieres of works by Philip Glass, Dominick Argento, and Jacob Druckman,as well as in Kaballah by Stewart Wallace, in which the role of Binah was written for her (recording by Koch Records).  Ms. Means also sang the NPR broadcast Dominick Argento’s The Dream of Valentino, in which she created the role of Jean Aker and in the PBS broadcast of Philip Glass’ The Making of The Representative of Planet 8, in which she created the role of Klin.  Nationally and internationally, she has appeared in leading roles with the Houston Grand Opera, Washington Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Cleveland Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Opera Mid-Michigan, Opera Grand Rapids, Pittsburgh Playhouse, and the State Opera of Cairo, Egypt.

In addition to her operatic roles she has sung many leading roles in musicals and operettas, including My Fair Lady, Carousel, The King and I, West Side Story, Show Boat, The Sound of Music, The Merry Widow and Zorba.  Recitals in the United States and Canada include a New York City debut in the New York Festival of Songs Series with pianist Michael Barrett and Guest artist with symphony orchestras of Houston, Cleveland, Corpus Christi, Victoria, and the National Symphony. She was last seen nationally and internationally on TV in the role of Suzy in the opera La Rondine directed by Marta Domingo, which was released in 2009 on DVD by Decca.

Rolando SanzTenor Rolando Sanz is quickly gaining recognition for his “sensitive” and “luminous” portrayals of the romantic, lyric tenor repertoire. While he specializes in such standard roles as Rodolfo, Tamino, Nemorino, Alfredo, Pinkerton and the Duca di Mantua, Rolando has also debuted many opera premieres including: Peter Doyle in Miss Lonelyhearts, for which the Los Angeles Times reported: “Rolando Sanz, as Doyle, gave the best hint of the score’s expressive possibilities” and Stiva (cover) in Anna Karenina. Most recently, he made his Carnegie Hall debut singing the role of Kostik in the world premiere of Prokofiev’s lost opera Dalëkie Morja (Distant Seas.)

In the 2008-2009 season, Rolando debuted with Palm Beach Opera as Rodolfo in La bohème and Flavio in Norma, as well as covering Duca di Mantua in Rigoletto. Recent engagements include a debut with Baltimore Concert Opera in A Flight of Verdi, and later in 2011 he will make debuts with Syracuse Opera, Baltimore Opera and Opera Costa Rica. Mr. Sanz will also return to Carnegie Hall to debut a world premiere song cycle by renowned composer Ezra Laderman and former US poet-laureate Robert Pinsky as well as a debut at The Music Center at Strathmore performing the Tenor Soloist in Les Noces.

The 2007-2008 season included a return to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to sing Nathaniel in The Tales of Hoffmann under Stephen Lord as well as to cover Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly. He was also a finalist for the Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other recent engagements include Alfredo in La traviata, conducted by Julius Rudel and L’Aumônier in Dialogues des Carmélites under the baton of James Conlon with the Aspen Music Festival.

James RogersHailed by The Washington Post as a “superb soloist” with a “sensitively turned lyric baritone”, Washington, D.C.-based James Rogers has been active in genres ranging from Viennese operetta to classical Lieder to challenging new works of the 21st century. He has created several opera roles in his career, including Howard Bright in Kyle Gullings’s Oblivion (2010 Capital Fringe), Father/Narrator in Gregg Martin’s Life in Death (Kennedy Center Millenium Stage; 2009 Capital Fringe), Apollo in Andrew Simpson’s The Furies (2006, Catholic University – guest artist), and John Sloat in Damon Ferrante’s Super Double Lite (2004, SymphonySpace, New York). Other opera roles include the title role of Don Giovanni (Opera AACC), Danilo Danilowitsch and Baron Mirko Zeta in The Merry Widow (Washington Savoyards, Opera AACC), Uberto in La serva padrona (Inscape Chamber Orchestra), Albert in Werther (Opera Vivente), Lord Mountararat in Iolanthe, Captain Corcoran and Dick Deadeye in HMS Pinafore (Young Victorian Theatre Company), Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen, Lescaut in Manon, Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Music Master in Ariadne auf Naxos—the last four at Peabody, where he studied with Marianna Busching and Wayne Conner. In 2009 and 2010, he and a chamber group of other Peabody Conservatory alumni presented Ligeti’s Aventures and Nouvelles aventures at the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia, and New York’s 92nd Street Y, under the baton of Leon Fleisher.

As an oratorio soloist, Mr. Rogers has performed such works as Messiah (Cantate Chamber Singers, the combined choirs of Hood College and the U. S. Naval Academy, Prince George’s Choral Society), Carmina Burana (World Bank/IMF Choral Society), J. S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (New Dominion Chorale) and his cantata, BWV 56 “Ich will den Kreuzstab gerne tragen”, as well as the Requiems of Brahms (Washington Summer Sings!) and Fauré (Annapolis Chorale, Library of Congress Chorale). In addition, he has appeared regularly on the pops series of the Annapolis Chorale.

Mr. Rogers is the founder of the Song Club of Washington, whose inaugural program in June 2009 featured three soloists performing the complete songs of Henri Duparc. As a member of the group Festa della Voce, he was heard in recital at such Washington-area venues as the Corcoran Gallery and the Embassies of Italy, Switzerland, and Canada. In solo recital, he has given world or North American premières of works by composers including Mikis Theodorakis, Paul Kletzki, Toby Twining, Richard Lake, and Benjamin CS Boyle.

Director Matthew GardinerMatthew Gardiner (Director/Choreographer) is the Resident Director of Signature Theatre, Arlington, VA. Directing credits at Signature Theatre include [title of show] and See What I Wanna See. Assistant Director and Choreographer credits include over 20 productions at Signature Theatre, where he has worked alongside Eric Schaeffer, Frank Galati, John Rando, Karma Camp, Christopher D’Amboise and Jeremy Skidmore. Matthew was the Co-Director/Choreographer for Studio Theatre 2ndStage’s acclaimed productions of Jerry Springer The Opera and Reefer Madness (2008 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical). Other Directing credits include Snow White, Rose Red & Fred (Kennedy Center), Greenwood Tree (NYMF and Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage with Folger Theatre and Signature Theatre), tick, tick.BOOM! (MetroStage), Let Me Sing & I’m Happy (Everyman Theatre), La Boheme, Candide (Catholic University of America.) Choreography credits include Sweeney Todd and Dirty Blonde (Signature Theatre), Grey Gardens and Adding Machine (Studio Theatre). Matthew is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, BFA. Upcoming projects include Art and Side By Side By Sondheim at Signature Theatre.

Robert MolliconeA native of Boston, pianist and coach Robert Mollicone joined the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program for the production of The Marriage of Figaro in spring 2010. His previous credits include engagements with the Cantata Singers, Huntington Theatre Company, Boston Opera Collaborative, Longy School of Music, and Boston Lyric Opera. Mr. Mollicone was a vocal coach, ensemble pianist, and opera scenes director for two summers at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. A student of Sheila Kibbe, he holds a M.M. from Boston University where he was active as a chamber musician, orchestral pianist, and performer of art song. This season returned to New England for Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Tosca and will later serve as a pianist for Washington National Opera’s mainstage production of Don Pasquale, and will assist Marin Alsop in the Baltimore Symphony’s performances of The Magic Flute.

About the Composers

Composer Seymour BarabComposer Seymour Barab was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1921, and began his professional career as a church organist at the age of thirteen. Subsequently, he became a cellist, and has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony,and Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. Barab’s interest in contemporary music led to a close association with American composers, whose music he began to perform while he was still in high school. Before leaving Chicago, he became a founder of the New Music Quartet; and then in New York City of the Composer’s Quartet, the resident quartet of Columbia University, whose primary purpose was to promote contemporary music. On the other end of the spectrum, he played the viola da gamba and helped form the New York Pro Musica, one of the first contemporary ensembles to reintroduce baroque and renaissance music. He has been a member of the faculties of Rutgers University, Black Mountain College and the New England Conservatory of Music, although he is mainly self-taught in composition.

Following military service in World War II, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill to spend a year in Paris, where he explored his own talents for musical composition. In this one year alone, he produced over two hundred art songs and other works. Barab’s proclivity for musical theater has made his operas consistently performed, especially his comic one-acts and those for young audiences. According to Central Opera Service, during the 88-89 season, he was the most performed composer of opera in America. His Little Red Riding Hood was the first American opera performed in China in its post-isolationist period. His highly praised full- length Civil War opera Philip Marshall , which uses Dostoyevsky’s THE IDIOT as its point of departure, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

The Toy Shop, commissioned by the New York City Opera, was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and in 1998, scenes from The Pied Piper of Hamlin were also performed there, where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Opera Association. Seymour’s Cosmos Cantata was set to a text by the novelist Kurt Vonnegut and commissioned and performed by the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Richard Aldon Clark. Of their collaboration, Kurt Vonnegut says: “Barab’s music is full of magic. He proved to an atheist that God exists. What an honor to have worked with him.”

Composer Jake HeggieJake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Moby-Dick (libretto: Gene Scheer), Dead Man Walking (libretto: Terrence McNally), Three Decembers (libretto: Scheer), The End of the Affair (libretto: Heather McDonald), To Hell and Back (libretto: Scheer), and the stage works For a Look or a Touch (libretto: Scheer) and At the Statue of Venus (libretto: McNally). He has also composed more than 200 art songs, as well as orchestral, choral and chamber music. His recent recording of songs and duets, PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie, (AVIE), features performances by Isabel Bayrakdarian, Zheng Cao, Joyce DiDonato, Susan Graham, Paul Groves, Keith Phares, and Frederica von Stade.
Heggie is the 2010-11 guest artist-in-residence at the University of North Texas at Denton, where he will compose his first symphony, based on several Ahab monologues from the novel Moby-Dick. The “Ahab” Symphony will receive its premiere in 2012 with tenor Richard Croft as soloist. Other current projects include song commissions from Carnegie Hall (for Joyce DiDonato), San Francisco Performances (for DiDonato and the Alexander String Quartet), The Dallas Opera (for baritone Nathan Gunn), and Houston Grand Opera (to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks); as well as a one-act opera for chorus for the John Alexander Singers and the Pacific Chorale, and a new version of For a Look or a Touch that features the 200-voice Seattle Men’s Chorus.

Heggie’s operas have been performed to tremendous acclaim internationally in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, South Africa and by more than a dozen American opera companies, including: San Francisco Opera, New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, The Dallas Opera, Seattle Opera, Ft. Worth Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera and Madison Opera. Dead Man Walking has been performed nearly 150 times since its San Francisco premiere in 2000, making it one of the most performed new American operas. Moby-Dick received its 2010 world premiere at The Dallas Opera and was co-commissioned by Dallas with four other companies: San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia.

Recordings of Heggie’s compositions include PASSING BY: Songs by Jake Heggie (Avie), Dead Man Walking (Erato), Three Decembers (Albany), Flesh and Stone (Americus), To Hell and Back (Magnatune), The Faces of Love (RCA Red Seal), The Deepest Desire (Eloquentia), and For a Look or a Touch (Naxos). Heggie was the recipient of a 2005/2006 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has been composer-in-residence for the San Francisco Opera, Eos Orchestra, and Vail Valley Music Festival. As a coach and teacher, he has given classes at universities throughout the United States and at summer festivals such as SongFest in Malibu and the Steans Institute at Ravinia. (photo © Ellen Appel)

Composer Lori LaitmanLori Laitman is one of America’s most prolific and widely performed composers of vocal music. She has composed two operas, an oratorio and over 200 songs, setting the words of classical and contemporary poets, among them the lost voices of poets who perished in the Holocaust. Laitman’s full-length opera, The Scarlet Letter, to a new libretto of the Hawthorne classic by decorated poet David Mason, was commissioned and performed by the University of Central Arkansas in 2008 to critical acclaim. Excerpts from the opera were showcased at the Opera America Salon Series in New York in September 2010. An announcement regarding the 2013 professional premiere of the opera will be made in early 2011. Laitman’s one-act opera, Come to Me in Dreams, was premiered by Cleveland Opera in 2004, and her oratorio, Vedem, a commission by Music of Remembrance (another collaboration with poet David Mason), saw its world premiere in May of 2010 in Seattle, WA. Naxos will release a CD of Vedem in May 2011. Meanwhile, Laitman and Mason are poised to embark on their next project, the creation of a new opera based on Ludlow, Mason’s award-winning epic verse novel.

In February 2010, Laitman was the Featured Composer on Thomas Hampson’s new online resource, Song of America. Many of Laitman’s songs have entered the standard repertoire, including her settings of Abraham Sutzkever’s poems from the Vilna ghetto, The Seed of Dream (2004). Released on the Naxos label, the cycle was pronounced “a masterpiece that should not be missed!” (Journal of Singing). In 2009, acclaimed Austrian baritone Wolfgang Holzmair performed the cycle in his native Austria and subsequently commissioned German and English settings of Paul Celan’s Todesfuge. In October 2010, renowned American countertenor Brian Asawa, accompanied by pianist Rudolf Jansen, performed Laitman’s The Silver Swan at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and in November 2010, celebrated American soprano Elizabeth Futral performed the composer’s Sunflowers with pianist William Billingham at a Samford University recital. Her recordings are available on her website, artsongs.com, and on Amazon and ITunes.

Composer Jack PerlaComposer and pianist Jack Perla writes orchestra, chamber music and dramatic works for stage and voice. He is currently developing Love/Hate with writer Rob Bailis, a chamber opera commissioned by ODC Theater (San Francisco), Urban Arias (Arlington) and American Opera Projects (New York). Preview performances of Love/Hate were presented by the opera program of the Manhattan School of Music, at the new Galapagos Artspace (New York) in March of 2008. Jack is also at work on two new recordings due out in 2010, one with Baritone Percy Howard for the English label Voiceprint, and another with trumpet virtuoso Charles Lazarus (The Minnesota Orchestra). Upcoming performances include an all Jack Perla program for the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series in San Francisco with Tenor Thomas Glenn (Doctor Atomic, San Francisco Opera, The Metropolitan Opera), and as featured performer/composer at the White Pines Festival in Minnesota with Jorja Fleezanis, Charles Lazarus and the Miro Quartet.

Jack has received awards and fellowships from the American Composers Forum, the James Irvine Foundation, the Argosy Fund for New Music, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the Chicago Symphony, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and many other organizations. He earned his DMA in composition at the Yale School of Music, studying with Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick, and BM at the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with John Corigliano. The Louisiana and Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestras, Oakland Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Absolute Ensemble (New York City), New Music Chicago, Music at the Anthology (New York), Yerba Buena Arts Center (San Francisco), Merkin Concert Hall (New York) and the British Music Information Center (London) have performed and/or presented Jack’s music.

“On a Train Heading South”, Jack’s innovative score for his collaboration with choreographer Brenda Way and visual designer Alex V. Nichols, commissioned by ODC Dance, toured the U.S. in 2005 – 2006 to extensive critical praise, culminating in performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City. The James Irvine Foundation commissioned Jack in 2002 to compose “Pixels at an Exhibition”, premiered by Patrick Summers conducting the Oakland Symphony, which also commissioned Jack in 1999 to create “’Trane of Thought”, noted in the press for its “high-energy impact” and for Jack’s “superb jazz performance”. In 1997 Jack received the Thelonious Monk Institute’s Jazz Composers Award, designated by Terrance Blanchard, Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker. Subsequently Jack performed at the Texaco New York Jazz Festival, The Knitting Factory (NY), the Tampere Jazz Festival (Finland), the Big Sur, Monterey and Pacifica Jazz Festivals, throughout California, and at the Millennium Festival (England). In 1998 he toured Japan, and was featured on the Tokyo television program LP Jazz Time. Jack continues to perform, compose and teach in the San Francisco Bay area, where is his a member of the faculty at Santa Clara University.

Jonathan ShefferComposer Jonathan Sheffer has, for the last ten years, turned his attention to the question of what constitutes a concert of “classical” music in the contemporary world. He founded the Eos Orchestra in New York in 1995 as a laboratory of new programming ideas. In 2001, he was invited by a group of musicians and arts donors from Cleveland to lead a new organization with a similar mission. The result: Red {an orchestra}. With the closing of Eos in 2004, Red is now the main outlet for these kinds of innovations.

Born in New York City, Mr. Sheffer graduated from Harvard University, where his teachers included Leonard Bernstein, and later attended The Julliard School and Aspen School of Music. Mr. Sheffer began studying conducting after working for nearly a decade as a composer and conductor of Hollywood film scores. He made his conducting debut with the San Diego Symphony in 1991. In addition to Eos and Red, he has conducted opera, dance and at various festivals, including the New York City Opera, The Spoleto Festival (Italy), and the Ravinia Festival. In 2000, he led the Sapporo Symphony at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan, the New World Symphony in Miami, and the United World Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in Bonn. In the dance world, Mr. Sheffer has conducted the American Ballet Theatre at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as the Brooklyn Philharmonic, in 1997 performances of the Mark Morris Dance Company at Brooklyn Academy of Music. And in 1996, he led the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with the Martha Graham Dance Company at the Edinburgh Festival.

A prolific composer, Mr. Sheffer’s range of works comprises television and feature film scores, works for orchestra, solo piano, concertos, musicals, and short operas. His work was the focus of a Guggenheim Works & Process series event in October 1999. His opera, Blood on the Dining Room Floor, received the Richard Rodgers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was produced off-Broadway in 2000. He has had fellowships at both Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, and in 2003 he was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. As part of his activities in arts and culture philanthropy and political action, Mr. Sheffer last year joined to the Board of Directors of the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, and currently serves as the appointee of the New York City Council to the Board of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.