Changing the Tune of Opera at Urban Arias

Posted by Editorial / Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Urban Arias makes opera work for a new generation.

‘Three Decembers’ at Urban Arias

‘Three Decembers,’ by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer, featuring Emily Pulley and Michael Mayes. Photo courtesy of C. Stanley Photography.

Powdered wigs and corsets aren’t overly prevalent in the 21st century, which is why Arlington-based opera company Urban Arias’ Executive Director Robert Wood has ditched the classics of Wagner and Mozart for something more aligned with this generation’s interests.

Heading into its sixth year, Urban Arias seeks to break down the elitist perception of the opera by presenting short, contemporary works.

Wood, who studied conducting in Vienna, Austria, has conducted operas all over the country. He moved to the Metro-D.C. area looking for something new and fresh after two years with the Minnesota Opera.

Urban Arias’ Executive Director Robert Wood.

Urban Arias’ Executive Director Robert Wood. Photo courtesy of Clintons Photography.

“What should it be that wouldn’t be duplicative of something else that was out there and also had real relevance and had something to say about the art form and could maybe address the question everybody is always worried about?” asks Wood. “How are we going to get the next generation of people to go to the opera if they think it’s an elitist art form and … they’re intimidated by it?”

There were three things Wood found that often scared people away from opera—length, language and price. After tossing around a couple of ideas, Wood decided to perform operas that are no longer than 90 minutes and were written in the last 40 years. Urban Arias takes care of the price as well with general admission tickets coming in at $28 and student tickets for $26.

“Ninety minutes is like a feature-film length,” says Wood. “People are willing to spend that much time on an uninterrupted entertainment. If there are couples where one person is really into [opera] and the other person is reluctant, the person can say ‘It’s only 90 minutes, and it’s in English; you’re going to understand it, and it’s not that long, so just try it.’”

Wood also credits the success of Urban Arias to the intimacy of their performances, most of which have taken place in the black box-style theater of the Artisphere in Arlington.

“You can not only see everything on their faces,” says wood, “but you can feel their voices vibrate in your own body; it’s that intimate. That is not a replicable in a place like the Kennedy Center.”

However, Urban Arias will be searching for a new home in the near future. Artisphere is scheduled to close later this year, making Urban Arias’ upcoming show “Blue Viola” the last performance at the venue. Though Artisphere has been its main location during its five-year run, Urban Arias has and will continue to perform at many different theaters in the area.

The interest from the local community has grown in Urban Arias’ first five years, and they have received rave reviews from the opera community, including mentions in The New York Times and The New Yorker. Wood hopes both the trend of short, contemporary operas and the growth in popularity continue across the country, and he has a clear goal of what he wants Urban Arias to be, “the first and the best producer of this kind of repertoire.” —Michael Balderston

(March 2015)

Substantial snow, record cold coming; Woodbridge teen may have helped man join ISIS

Posted by Carten Cordell / Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Wintry mix to change to substantial snow, record cold likely to follow
(The Washington Post)

Woodbridge teen thought to have helped man join ISIS
(The Washington Post)

Still no sledding on Capitol Hill

VCU extends deadline for Sweet Briar transfers

Fairfax County Sheriff asks for patience as Taser death investigation moves forward

Sweet Briar College to close its doors; Winter storm moves in Wednesday

Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

By Matthew Tracy

Sweet Briar College to close its doors for good

DOJ: Ferguson police officially found racially-biased in actions
(Washington Post)

Winter storm warning goes into effect at 7 p.m. Wednesday

Fairfax forms commission to review police procedures
(Fairfax Times)

The Taxi Wars Head to Richmond

Posted by Carten Cordell / Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Uber, Lyft in Virginia

Photo courtesy of Uber.

With no less than your cab fare at stake, pay-as-you-go pugilists Uber and Lyft have been duking it out with the taxicab industry over falling fare rates, lack of regulation and driver vetting for months.

After the state DMV briefly shut down the ride-sharing services in June for “operating without proper authority,” the Virginia House of Delegates has passed legislation requiring the on-demand car services to meet regulations more in line with the taxi industry.

The legislation, which was signed by the governor on Feb. 17, would require that drivers be 21 or older, get screened for background checks and hold a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance while carrying passengers.

Uber and Lyft agreed to the measures in August as part of a deal with the DMV. The legislation will codify the agreement. With that in mind, we compare how much it costs to get around Northern Virginia with a litany of ride-sharing services. —Carten Cordell and Michael Balderston


  logo_uber logo_lyft logo_taxi logo_restonlimo
Uber X: $11.40
Uber XL: $23.25
Uber Black: $30.74
UberSUV: $39.82
20% tip added to fare.
Rates can change at peak times.
Lyft (1-3 people): $14.12
Lyft Plus (1-6 people): $20.42
App offers tip options of $1, $2, $5 or other.
Rates can change at peak times.
$16.75; $1 for each additional passenger over the age of 12 Sedan: $237 for 3 hrs.; $79 each additional hour
SUV: $267 for 3 hrs.; $89 for each additional hour
Rates include modest gratuity but do not include parking or fuel surcharge.
● App uses your phone’s GPS to find the nearest driver pick you up.
● Can track driver from phone.
● Driver will text you on arrival. Driver contact information appears in the app.
● Request pickup through app, which pairs you with a driver.
● Can track driver’s ETA with app and can see a photo of them and the car.
● Can call for pickup.
● Some companies, such as Red Top Cab, have apps.
● A minimum of 3 hours’ notice; cars range from a sedan to a bus that holds 55 riders.
● Book through website,, or call at 703-478-0500.
● Credit card is on file with the app and will automatically be charged upon arrival at destination. No cash needed, and Uber will email you the receipt.
● Can split the fare between friends who have the app; app will charge all credit cards equally.
Credit card is on file with the app and will automatically be charged upon arrival at destination. Cash or credit card. ● Trips longer than 3 hours require a 50% deposit at time of booking.
● Cancellation less than 2 hours prior to pickup will incur a fee of 100% of the estimated trip.
● Must be 21
● Background checks
● Signs identifying them as Uber drivers.
● Maintain $1 million in liability insurance while transporting passengers.
● Must be 21
● Background checks
● Signs identifying them as Lyft drivers.
● Maintain $1 million in liability insurance while transporting passengers.
● Exemplary driving record
● Background check
● Must obtain and display a valid taxicab operator’s license.
● Must pass a test of their knowledge of local geography, driving laws and taxi regulations.
● Required to have a minimum of $300,000 of coverage for personal injury and $50,000 of coverage for personal property loss.
● Must obtain a Contract Passenger Carrier operating authority certificate.
● Provide proof of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance.


*Estimated fare from Arlington to D.C.

(March 2015)

Trending: Issues Big and Small in Richmond

Posted by Carten Cordell / Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Virginia 2015 General Assembly

Photo courtesy of Rose-Marie Henriksson/

Virginia’s legislative season will be coming to a close this month following the conclusion of the General Assembly’s general session.

With more than 3,000 bills filed, the legislature tackled some big-ticket issues like sexual assault on college campuses, political ethics and gun control, but they still had time for the oft-overlooked issues of our day.

Here’s where these bills currently stand:

Gun control
Gun rights took center stage in a number of bills this session, with varying degrees of success.

HB 1548 sought to revoke a concealed carry permit if its holder was delinquent on child support payments. It failed in committee.

Sen. Barbara Favola’s (D-Arlington) SB 943, a measure for the prevention of domestic abuse, would make it a misdemeanor for anyone convicted of stalking, assaulting a family member or sexual battery to own a firearm. The bill included a chance for appeal a year after conviction. It was left in the Finance committee.

Sen. Thomas Garrett’s SB 1132 sought to make concealed carry legal on school grounds outside of school hours. Seen as a self-defense measure, the bill was defeated in the Senate 20-18.
Sexual Assault
Following controversy raised about the reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses, Sen. Richard Black (R-Leesburg) sponsored SB 712, which would require any employee of a college or university to report a case of sexual assault to police within 48 hours. Versions of the bill passed the House moved to a conference committee in the Senate.

Following the conviction of former Gov. Bob McDonnell, a flurry of ethics bills were filed.

SB 696 would place caps on the gifts legislators and their family members could receive. It was incorporated into another ethics measure, SB 1424, which passed the legislature.

HB 1305 sought to prevent legislators from joining a government agency for a year after leaving the assembly. It was left in committee.

HB 1282 prevents any relatives of legislators from being selected by the General Assembly for judgeships. It was left in committee. 


But not all the measures revolved around such hot-button issues. Here’s a look at the overlooked work of the General Assembly.

SB 781 allows drivers to pass over a double yellow line if trapped behind pedestrians, human-powered devices like skateboards, stopped vehicles or those traveling less than 25 miles per hour. The bill passed and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

HB 2191 says payday loan and title loan offices must be at least 10 miles away from casinos or military installations. This bill was tabled in committee.

HB 1317 would raise the threshold between speeding and reckless driving from 80 to 85 mph. This bill was left in committee.

HB 1342 extended the statutes of following too closely to apply to bicycles, electric wheelchairs, mopeds and other devices. The bill passed and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

HB 1379 compelled drivers passing stationary mail trucks to do so at a safe speed. The bill passed and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

To see if a bill became law, visit —Carten Cordell

(March 2015)

Wintry mix on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s snow; Weather may close FCPS early

Posted by Carten Cordell / Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Wintry mix on the horizon ahead of Thursday’s snow
(The Washington Post)

D.C. poised to ban cannabis clubs
(The Washington Post)

FCPS: Weather May Close Schools Early Tuesday

Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office Refuses To Release Video Of Tasing Death

March’s Not-To-Miss Events

Posted by Editorial / Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Edited by Sophia Rutti

Second Annual Shakespeare in the ‘Burg Festival

Photography by Michael Bailey.

1Second Annual Shakespeare in the ‘Burg Festival
For the second year in a row, the town of Middleburg is going to be packed with play enthusiasts. The options for entertainment will range from a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception before a screening of “West Side Story” to workshops for all the Shakespeare fans as well as productions of “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing” by the American Shakespeare Company. Just a tip: Get to the productions 30 minutes early to listen to the ASC play music and set the ambiance. / March 27-29


Jazz Fridays in Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge, Chris Linman

Photo courtesy of Son Photography.

2Jazz Fridays in Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge
Let Chris Linman’s live performance light up your Friday nights at the Entyse Wine Bar and Lounge in The Ritz Carlton. Enjoy the sophisticated and exciting atmosphere, try one of their 40 fine wines, have dinner, and let the music transport you to another time. / Every Friday in March


Tango Buenos Aires

Photo courtesy of Tango Buenos Aires.

3Tango Buenos Aires: Song of Eva Peron
Straight from Buenos Aires, this tango-dancing event chronicles the life of Argentinian first lady Eva Peron. Make sure to sit up close to experience the foot-stomping, heart-racing tango as intimately as possible. Tickets range from $29 to $48. / March 7


4Washington D.C. Official St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl
Time to get decked out in green. Join thousands of St. Patrick’s Day devotees in Dupont Circle to hop from one pub to the next. Each pub will have drink specials for the most exciting and cost-effective St. Paddy’s Day experience. Tickets are $3. / March 17



(March 2015)


March’s Hot Media

Posted by Editorial / Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Disney's Cinderella movie

Photo courtesy of Disney.


In theaters March 13

After suddenly losing her father, Ella is forced to contend with her evil stepmother and stepsisters, but her fairy godmother arrives just in time—to help her find her true love.


Kazuo Ishiguro ‘The Buried Giant’

Photo courtesy of Knopt Doubleday.


‘The Buried Giant’
On shelves March 3

The first novel in eight years by Booker Prize-winning Kazuo Ishiguro—author of “Never Let Me Go” and “The Remains of the Day”—follows a couple in search of their long lost son.


Madonna 'Rebel Heart'

Photo courtesy of Featureflash/


‘Rebel Heart’
Download March 10

The queen of pop music, Madonna releases her first studio album in three years—an eclectic mix of upbeat dance numbers and emotional depth.



Photo courtesy of Featureflash/


‘The Late Late Show with James Corden’
On the tube March 23

He may be a Tony Award-winning Broadway actor, but the witty James Corden will be filling host Craig Ferguson’s big shoes on CBS’ “The Late Late Show.”

(March 2015)

AP: Md. Sen. Mikulski to retire; GOP fissure in Va. could jeopardize 2016

Posted by Carten Cordell / Monday, March 2nd, 2015

AP: Md. Sen. Mikulski to retire

GOP fissure in Va. could jeopardize 2016
(The Washington Post)

Chantilly High student journalists win First Amendment award
(The Washington Post)

Va. prepares for the end of Affordable Care Act subsidies

Tolls are going up on the Dulles Greenway

Eagle’s Acho accepts Purcellville prom date; Sitting Rising Test could predict your lifespan

Posted by Carten Cordell / Friday, February 27th, 2015

Emails: Fairfax prosecutor requested state police to investigate Fairfax police shooting
(The Washington Post)

Sitting Rising Test could predict your lifespan
(USA Today)

Eagles’ Emmanuel Acho accepts Purcellville high schooler’s prom request

Metro fare hike proposal killed

Cell service in Metro tunnels may not happen by deadline

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