UrbanArias at IOTA


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


An ALL NEW 75-minute program of comedy at Clarendon’s famous
IOTA Club and Cafe


SUNDAY, June 2 at 7 P.M.

Who knew opera could be so much fun? UrbanArias presents an evening of two short operas and sung improvisation (in which our intrepid singers make up operas on the spot based on your suggestions!)

Read the Washington Post’s rave review of our last performance at IOTA by clicking here: Patrick Rucker called it “some of the best, most original music-making I’ve seen inside the Beltway in a long time.”


Alizon Hull Reggioli
Alexis Tantau
Ben Lurye
Joshua Baumgardner
Matthew Moeller
Jeffrey Tarr
and Tim McReynolds

Directed by Nicholas I.J. Olcott


The Good Friar

by Mark Campbell and Martin Hennessy
A comic 21-minute opera about a smart, sexy (and married) lady who, bored with her husband, uses the confessional booth and an unwitting friar to seduce an handsome young man. (This opera is based on “Third Day, Third Story” from Boccaccio’s Decameron. For the original story, in somewhat archaic English, click here (Third Day, Third Story.))


by Mark Adamo
A 12-minute opera about the emotions experienced on a wedding morning by an ambivalent bride, her avid mother, the haunted groom, the ghost of the groom’s father, and a glib celebrant. A gem of a piece, it may remind you of Sondheim’s Company.


Opera Improv

Watch as our cast of six singers makes up opera scenes on the fly, based on your suggestions. How does it work? We ask the audience for three things: “who,” “what,” and “where.” We then craft those elements into an opera scene, with improvised piano accompaniment and singing. These improvs are always surprising and terribly entertaining!


(available at the door only)

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.

Click the link below for an excerpt from our March 22 show at Strathmore (may not be safe for work . . .)

Assless Chaps from Gabriel Kahane’s Craigslistlieder


Martin Hennessy is known as a composer for the voice with a growing catalogue of art song, chamber music, opera and musical theater. New York City Opera’s Vox Series presented his opera, A Letter to East 11th Street (libretto: Mark Campbell) with conductor, George Manahan, and his Four Ben Jonson Songs won grand prize at the San Francisco Song Festival. In addition he has been honored with awards from ASCAP, Meet the Composer, two grants from the American Music Center, two commissions from The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS, as well as, a Millay Colony residency. His music has also been presented by the New York Festival of Song, American Opera Projects, the Guggenheim Works and Process Series, the Harvard Ballet Company, Positive Music and Dancers Responding to AIDS. Recent premieres include Suite for Suzanne at Strathmore Hall with cellist, Raman Ramakrishnan and The Good Friar (libretto: Mark Campbell), a short comic opera for mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone presented by the Center for Contemporary Opera at Weill Recital Hall. A compact disc featuring seven of his songs, paired with Ned Rorem’s cycle Women’s Voices can be found on Newport Classic with soprano, Heidi Skok and his William Bronk settings are included on Albany’s Drifts and Shadows: American Song for the New Millenium with baritone, Elem Eley.

Mark Adamo‘s third full-length opera, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, will be premiered by San Francisco Opera next week. His most recent premiere, Four Angels: Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, was commissioned and introduced by the National Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin in June 2007; it was given by the Utah Symphony under Keith Lockhart in January 2011. His second opera, Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess, after Aristophanes, made its East Coast début in March 2006 at New York City Opera, at which Mark completed his fifth year as composer-in-residence in March 2006: Lysistrata was commissioned and introduced by Houston Grand Opera for its fiftieth-anniversary season in March 2005. Since its 1998 première, also by Houston Grand Opera, Little Women, the first opera for which he composed both music and libretto, has been nationally telecast on the PBS series Great Performances, released on DVD by Naxos and on CD by Ondine Records, and heard in over seventy national and international engagements from New York to Mexico City, Minneapolis, Adelaide, Tel Aviv, and Tokyo: including two for which he served as stage director.

Alexis Tantau holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Arts from the University of Southern California, where she was honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Opera Award, as well as a mentorship with Los Angeles Opera. Alexis became a member of the Maryland Opera Studio in 2007, where she earned a Masters of Music in Opera Performance. Operatic roles include Arsamene in Xerxes, Hermia and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Ottone in Agrippina, Baba the Turk in The Rake’s Progress, the Fairy Queen in Iolanthe, as well as Métella in Offenbach’s La Vie Parisienne with the Opera du Périgord. She recently spent a year in the South of France studying the endangered romance language, Occitan. She hopes to share and preserve it through music, such as Les chants d’Auvergne of Joseph Canteloube. Upcoming engagements include an Edith Piaf cabaret with the Lyric Opera of Baltimore.

Soprano Alizon Hull Reggioli began her career at the Metropolitan Opera, sharing the stage with Luciano Pavarotti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Teresa Stratas, and others…in the Children’s Chorus. Since then she has been pursuing the path of least financial security possible. She graduated from Vassar with a BA in English and then went to Manhattan School of Music for a Master of Music degree. After decades of giggling and sparkling Adeles, Musettas, Nannettas, and any and all sneaky maid roles, she landed her dream job in the chorus of The Washington National Opera where she currently resides with great pleasure. Alizon now listens to the sparkling giggles of her beautiful daughter, Camilla.

Tenor Ben Lurye most recently appeared in Hello, Dolly! at Ford’s Theatre, and his other DC credits include performances at Olney Theatre (Forever Plaid, Joseph…Dreamcoat), Signature Theatre (Sweeney Todd), Adventure Theatre (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, Frog and Toad, Five Little Monkeys), Keegan Theatre (Spelling Bee, Cabaret), 1st Stage (Parfumerie), Toby’s of Baltimore (Joseph…Dreamcoat), with the Washington Savoyards (Pirates of Penzance), and Bel Cantanti Opera (Amahl and the Night Visitors). Ben holds a BM in Voice Performance from The University of Maryland, where he studied with Francois Loup. Next, Ben can be seen at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia in Les Miserables starting at the end of July.

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.

Baritone Matt Moeller is a native of Austin, Texas and a recent graduate of the Maryland Opera Studio (M.M) at The University of Maryland. In the 2013-2014 season he will be engaged as a Studio Artist with Fort Worth Opera, and in January he earned an Encouragement Award at the Arkansas District of the 2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Recent appearances include Marcello and Schaunard in La bohème and Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with the Maryland Opera Studio. Other operatic credits include the title role in Don Giovanni, Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music, Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, Dr. Dulcamara in L’elisir d’amore, Dapertutto and Lindorf in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, and Betto in Gianni Schicchi, with companies including Des Moines Metro Opera, Seagle Music Colony, Janiec Opera Company, LSU Opera and Spotlight on Opera. He holds Bachelor of Music degrees in Music Education and Vocal Performance from Louisiana State University.

Jeffrey TarrPossessing a rich, warm voice with “rock-solid vocalism and powerful projection” (The Capital), bass Jeffrey Tarr is equally in demand for opera and concert work. He has appeared with the Washington National Opera, Opera Bel Cantanti, Opera Vivente, and Maryland Concert Opera. Mr. Tarr’s portrayal of Basilio in Annapolis Opera’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia was described by The Washington Post as “fervent [&] robust.” Other operatic credits include Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Benoit in La Boheme, Ceprano in Rigoletto, Frère Laurent in Roméo et Juliette, Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Superintendent Budd in Albert Herring and Collatinus in Rape of Lucretia. Most recently, he performed the role of the Notary in WNO’s production of Don Pasquale.

On the concert stage, Mr. Tarr has performed in Handel’s Messiah, Faure’s Requiem, Bach’s St. John’s Passion, Mozart’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem and Bach’s Magnificat with the Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, DC Summer Sings, and the New Dominion Chorale. His performance of Messiah with the New Dominion Chorale was lauded by The Washington Post as “outstanding…a large, resonant voice, filled with both power and clarity.”

Mr. Tarr received a Masters of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music of the Johns Hopkins University and is a former prize winner in the Annapolis Opera Competition, the Orpheus Vocal Competition, the Marie Crump Vocal Competition and the Gretchen Hood Vocal Competition. As winner of the Vocal Arts Society’s Art Song Discovery Series, Mr. Tarr presented four recital programs at prestigious venues throughout the DC area including the Kennedy Center and the Odeon Concert Series. He presently serves as an adjunct faculty member in the voice department at American University.

Nick Olcott is the Interim Director of the Maryland Opera Studio in the School of Music at the University of Maryland. His professional credits include productions at Wolf Trap Opera (Bastianello/Lucrezia and The Impresario/Viva la mamma!), Opera Cleveland (Roméo et Juliette and The Turn of the Screw), Boston Lyric Opera (The Daughter of the Regiment), the In Series (Carmen, Trouble in Tahiti and Love Potion #1), Ash Lawn Opera Festival (Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni and The Barber of Seville) and Opera Lafayette (Paisiello’s Il barbiere di Siviglia). He is the resident stage director for the Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist. Upcoming productions include Die Fledermaus at the Maryland Opera Studio and a double bill of Mozart’s Così fan tutte (in French) and Philidor’s Les femmes vengées for Opera Lafayette which will play at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Versailles.

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.