A multiracial (Japanese, Irish-Italian) woman in her early 30’s with reddish-brown hair up in a bun, wearing a denim shirt and a gold chain necklace, looks up and points at a bubble with a smile on her face. She stands against a light blue-grey background.

Aria Umezawa

Mentor, Civic Engagement Artist Residency

With her quirky, irreverent style, Aria Umezawa (she/her)’s work evokes wonder and challenges the long-established traditions of opera and classical music. The stage director, producer, and writer is a co-founder of Amplified Opera, the independent, equity-seeking opera company and current Disruptor-in-Residence at the Canadian Opera Company. Aria was Artistic Director of Opera 5 from 2012-17. Recent and upcoming engagements include Toshio Hosokawa’s The Raven with Opera Philadelphia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Vancouver Opera, and Madama Butterfly with New Orleans Opera.

 Aria completed two years as an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, a position she earned after her San Francisco debut as a Merola Apprentice Stage Director. Her staging of the Merola Grand Finale was lauded by the San Francisco Chronicle: “Over the decades, I’ve never seen the job dispatched with the elegance, verve and sheer theatrical imagination that Aria Umezawa brought to it on Saturday night in the War Memorial Opera House. This young Canadian artist… marshalled her fellow Merolini with the dexterity of an experienced master.”

Directing highlights include Christmas with SOL3 MIO with San Francisco Opera, Thomas’ Hamlet with West Edge Opera, and Poulenc’s La voix humaine with Against the Grain Theatre. Aria has directed the Canadian premieres of Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned by Opera 5), and the North American premiere of Cavalli’s Artemisia with Boston’s Helios Opera.

An advocate for safe, equitable practices in the opera and performing arts industries, Aria is in demand as a presenter and educator. In 2018 she developed Safe to Run: Bystander Intervention Training for the Rehearsal Room with Opera McGill and the San Francisco Opera Center, and has run the workshop at opera companies across North America. That same year she was a speaker on the Gender Equity in Opera panel at the inaugural Opera.ca Opera Changing Worlds Education Summit. With OPERA America, Aria has presented on Anti-Harassment Policies and Stage Intimacy Techniques (2019) and Building a Healthier Company Culture for Artists (2020), and has contributed as a panelist on Managing the Challenges of the Inherited Repertoire (2020), and Breaking Down Gatekeeping (2021). She was an artistic consultant on a new co-production of Madama Butterfly with Opera in the Heights and Pacific Opera Projects.  See more of Aria at <a href=”https://www.ariaumezawa.com/”><strong>ariaumezawa.com</a></strong>.

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