Paul’s Case


Composed by Gregory Spears

Libretto by Gregory Spears and Kathryn Walat after Willa Cather

“In “Paul’s Case,” given its world premiere on Saturday by the small company UrbanArias, the composer Gregory Spears combines minimalism, baroque gestures, and extended vocal techniques into a distinctive and pungent musical language . . . Unlike many contemporary opera composers, Mr. Spears has a gift for writing ensembles, and they are original . . . the pacing is taut, the nine-piece orchestration vivid and the denouement appropriately wrenching.” – Heidi Waleson, The Wall Street Journal Click here to read the full review

” . . . an arresting little piece that communicates its haunting story with clarity and a sense of inevitability . . . There’s a rich group of voices assembled for the intimate performance, led by rising tenor Jonathan Blalock, who is youthful enough to be credible as an incorrigible high schooler whose red carnation clashes so much with his dour, monochromatic surroundings.” – Roger Catlin, The Washington Post Read the entire review here

“I can’t shake the mysterious, disturbing, and yet powerful atmosphere that has been created in Paul’s Case, the latest production by UrbanArias . . . There is something rare and appreciable about hearing and seeing an opera in such an intimate space.” – Susan Galbraith, DC Theatre Scene Click here to read the full review

“The words ‘world premiere’ don’t always translate to ‘Must-See,’ but in the case of Paul’s Case, a post-minimalist, compact opera unveiled by UrbanArias at Artisphere, they’re synonymous.” – Terry Byrne, DCMetroTheaterArts For the full review, click here

“Hurry, while there are still a few performances of composer Gregory Spear’s new opera Paul’s Case scheduled in the outstanding world premiere production by UrbanArias at the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia. Everything about this 90-minute chamber opera organized in two acts and five scenes works.” – Karren Alenier, Scene 4 Magazine Click here to read the full review

Developed by AOP in part with funds from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Paul, the son of an businessman in early 20th-century Pittsburgh, steals money from the firm where he works as a cash boy and runs away to New York City, where he puts himself up at the Waldorf Astoria and tastes freedom for the first time. This beautiful and moving opera is based on the famous short story by Willa Cather.


Jonathan Blalock as Paul

Keith Phares as Paul’s Father

Melissa Wimbish as the History Teacher

Amanda Crider as the English Teacher

Michael Slattery

Erin Sanzero as the Maid

James Shaffran as the High School Principal

Conducted by Robert Wood

Directed by Kevin Newbury

Lighting Design by Eric Southern

Costumes by Amanda Seymour

Set Design by Timothy Mackabee