Love grows in the Corn Belt

Opera brings people together – be it patrons, communities or a couple separated by the Atlantic Ocean.

Gregory Warren and Hester Warren-Steijn met overseas through their careers in opera and now live in two different countries. Opera keeps the married couple connected and brings them here to Indianola two months out of the year to be together, face to face.

Living in two different places is difficult, but Hester says their relationship survives the long distance through FaceTime. “We see each other at least once a day, depending on schedules and time difference, either to say good morning or good night. So one of the perks of working at DMMO is that we get so see each other for real during breakfast,” she said.

“Being together at the [DMMO] festival gives us a chance to work together, and be together in this wonderful world of opera,” the couple said.

Hester:Greg 1

The pair is based out of New York City where Gregory sings in the chorus of the Metropolitan Opera, but also have an apartment in Amsterdam which they say allows Hester to continue traveling as a stage manager and director as well as stay connected with her family.

Their travel in the opera industry continues still after meeting eight years ago while working with the Dutch National Opera in Berlioz’s Les Troyens. Hester was stage managing and Greg sang Iopas – the court poet. “I was wearing a golden dress – a Samurai outfit – in the performance,” Gregory said. “Hester could not resist.”

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Gregory performing as Fernando in the 2011 Tokyo production of Così fan tutte

The Summer Festival Season at Des Moines Metro Opera allows them to live together and spend some quality time touring around to some of their favorite spots in the state. They also visited the Bridges of Madison County and the Dutch town of Pella. Top contenders for delicious delicacies continue to be Hester’s favorite, The Strudl House, with their Dutch letter pastries, and Gregory’s favorites, MishMash and the Outside Scoop.

“I don’t enjoy the diet I have to go on after a summer in Des Moines,” Gregory said.

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Gregory and Hester at the Bridges of Madison County

The couple returns this summer for their second season, as they both made their debuts in the 45th Summer Festival.

“This is a wonderful company to work for as well as the quiet disposition of the community. This company offers a stellar work ethic and produces amazing productions with an fantastic atmosphere. We made many friends and feel lucky to be part of the DMMO family”, they said.

This season, Hester is stage managing for the company’s new production of Rusalka, and Greg is singing the role of the Gamekeeper, so they even get to spend rehearsals together.


by Rosa Gude, DMMO Marketing and Public Relations Intern

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