Aria Umezawa

With her quirky, irreverent style, Aria Umezawa’s work evokes wonder and challenges the long-established traditions of opera and classical music. The Canadian 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 the Artistic Director of Opera 5 from 2012-17; during her tenure, she wrote and directed the comedic webseries “Opera Cheats”. Aria’s aesthetic, rooted in the post-modern, has been featured by The Boston Globe, the Mercury News, Jezebel, The Globe and Mail, The Boston Phoenix, and the Toronto-based Barcza Blog. Recent and upcoming engagements include The Singing Garden with The Amadeus Choir, Acis and Galatea with the Philharmonia Baroque at Caramor and Tanglewood (COVID19), a workshop of Vastation (Moussa) with Calgary Opera and two productions of Madama Butterfly with the Canadian Opera Company, and Hawaii Opera Theatre.

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Aria recently completed two years as an Alder Fellow at San Francisco Opera, a position she earned after her acclaimed San Francisco debut as a Merola Apprentice Stage Director. Her staging of the Merola Grand Finale was enthusiastically 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.”


Recent directing highlights of Aria’s include The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Concert and Christmas with SOL3MIO with San Francisco Opera, Thomas’ Hamlet with West Edge Opera, and Poulenc’s La voix humaine, which won the Capital City Critics Circle Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. An innovative interpreter of the new opera, Aria has directed the Canadian premieres of Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned with 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 she has run the workshop at opera companies across North America. The same year, she was a speaker on the Gender Equity in Opera panel at the inaugural 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). She was an artistic consultant on a new co-production of Madama Butterfly with Opera in the Heights and Pacific Opera Projects.