Currently completing her second year as a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellow, Aria Umezawa is the first stage director to be awarded the fellowship in 15 years. She is the co-founder of the Toronto-based, independent opera company Opera 5, and served as its artistic director from 2012 to 2017. In addition, she is the creator, writer, and director of the webseries Opera Cheats, and she 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.”
In 2017, Umezawa 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' Choice Award at the 2013 Ottawa Fringe Festival. She has directed the Canadian premieres of several works, including New York-based Milton Granger’s Talk Opera and Darren Russo’s Storybook (commissioned by Opera 5), as well as the North American premiere of Cavalli’s Artemisia (Boston's Helios Opera). 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 Phoenix, 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.