Blue Viola

World Premiere

Music by Peter Hilliard

Libretto by Matt Boresi

“. . . funny, thought-provoking, absorbing, and certainly not what most of you imagine when you think of opera . . . it is a thoroughly enjoyable gem of a tale that anyone in DC ought to consider taking in.” – Brett Steven Abelman, DC Theatre Scene

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“. . . gorgeous music, a clever and often-funny and tongue-in-cheek libretto, and a cast of talented singers – each possessing a gorgeous voice.”

– Joel Markowitz, DC Metro Theater Arts

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“UrbanArias’ production of Blue Viola, a new short opera by Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi, fills the Artisphere’s Black Box with deep, resonant voices, an accessible, compelling narrative, and exquisite music.” – Elizabeth Bruce, MD Theater Guide

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BLUE VIOLA tells the story of a priceless instrument that disappears after its owner, a player in the Chicago Symphony, accidentally leaves it on the street. It winds up in the hands of Vernon Addams, a junk dealer, who sees in it a lost treasure he is meant to rescue and care for. His girlfriend, Arnita Seward, is more practical. Growing up poor in Chicago has left her few options for a bright future; she has narrowly escaped the projects, but her job at a run-down Cookie and Hot Sandwich shop will never provide advancement, and she has to put up with the unwanted advances of her boss to boot. Arnita steals the viola from Vernon, and brings in her boss, Mikey Stearns, as an accomplice in order to get the instrument appraised, and hopefully fenced. Mikey concocts an unlikely story about a rich aunt who willed him the viola, while Arnita dreams of a cushy future “someplace warm”, financed by the proceeds of the instrument’s sale. Will Mikey’s story and Arnita’s flirting convince Fritz Humboldt, a finicky rare instrument dealer to accept their offer to sell him this “priceless” instrument?


Vernon Addams – Jorell Williams

Arnita Seward – Alicia Olatuja

Michael Stearns – Keith Phares

Fritz Humboldt – Benjamin Lurye

Conducted by Robert Wood

Directed by Tazewell Thompson

Set and Lighting Design by Donald Eastman

Costume Design by Harry Nadal

Featuring members of the Inscape Chamber Orchestra