Aria Umezawa

  • Director.

  • Producer.

  • Writer.

  • Giant shadow sillouette looming on back wall of stage.
  • Woman in black dress reaching up to grab falling confetti.
  • Scene from Die Fledermaus where all the characters are dancing and singing in pink clothing.
  • Aria Umezawa onstage and warming up the crowd at a club in San Francisco.
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Aria Umezawa smiling and reaching to pop a floating soap bubble.


Aria Umezawa is a director, producer, and writer currently completing her second year as an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera—the first stage director to be awarded the fellowship in fifteen years. She is also the co-founder of Toronto-based, independent opera company, Opera 5, and served as its Artistic Director from 2012-2017. She is the creator, writer, and director of the webseries “Opera Cheats.”

Aria was the 2016 Merola Apprentice Stage Director, where her staging of the Merola Grand Finale concert was praised 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.”

Recently, Aria directed “The Future is Now: Adler Fellows Concert” for the San Francisco Opera Center, “Christmas With SOL3 MIO” for San Francisco Opera, and Ambroise Thomas’ “Hamlet” for West Edge Opera. Her staging of Poulenc’s "La voix humaine" took home the Capital City Critics Circle Critic’s Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival.

She has directed the Canadian premier of several works including New York-based composer, Milton Granger’s "Talk Opera", Darren Russo’s "Storybook" (commissioned by Opera 5), and the North American premier of Cavalli’s "Artemisia" (Helios Opera, Boston).

She has been praised for her irreverent, post-modern, wondrous and quirky visual style by online and print publications such as The Boston Globe, The Boston Pheonix, and Toronto’s Barcza Blog. Her writing has been featured in The Globe and Mail, and her work has been featured in Metro News, Jezebel, The Huffington Post, and FLARE Magazine, as well as on the social media pages of opera companies across North America.

A scene from San Francisco Opera's production of 'Christmas with SOL3 MIO', directed by Aria Umezawa. Image by Kristen Loken.

San Francisco Opera - Christmas with SOL3 MIO

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Aria Umezawa looking surprised as confetti falls around her.

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