“If any further proof were needed that Des Moines Metro Opera is at the forefront of operatic excellence in America, their theatrically searing, musically impeccable Wozzeck would cement this assertion.” This was the opening line of a review from Opera Today in July and I hope you agree. Four all-original productions delighted us during the 2019 Summer Festival Season with remarkable singing, music-making and artistry. If you’re like me, you continue to be inspired by the breadth and variety of repertory we discover (or rediscover) each year. From Candide to Wozzeck and then to La Bohème – and finally to Julia Child’s kitchen – we presented an astounding collection of titles in top-flight productions. In addition to critical accolades and sold out houses, I’m pleased to say that the season was a fiscal success as well, with ticket sales surpassing our goal, reaching 115%, and a balanced budget to end the year.
The season was one of towering achievements both onstage and off. The Grand Opening of the new Lauridsen Opera Center represented the culmination of a project that was many years in the making. The renovated building blends the historic and the contemporary in ways that underscore the Company’s mission to present opera productions designed to engage a 21st century audience. Sharing it with so many of our friends and neighbors this summer was a delight. As we learn to utilize and inhabit this incredible Opera Center in the months to come, we look forward to engaging with the community in fresh ways and new spaces. If you haven’t seen it yet, please be in touch and we’d be happy to show you around.
Our attention is now devoted to creating the 2020 productions, events and educational programming that will fill our calendar for the upcoming year. Our mainstage repertory presents three richly-hued works whose vibrancy is enhanced by their juxtaposition against one another. Sondheim’s musical thrill Sweeney Todd, Rameau’s French Baroque comedy Platèe drawn from the court of Versailles, and Tchaikovksy’s Imperial Russian ghost story, The Queen of Spades, presents an incredibly diverse tapestry for next season. Added to that is a remarkable new work, Fellow Travelers, for one night only next summer – July 11. When I saw this piece in Chicago a couple of years ago, the beautiful story found me wiping away a few tears at the end and deciding that it was time this work was front and center in Des Moines at the historic Hoyt Sherman Place Theater.
But before then, we will offer a very special evening at the Viking Theatre at Grand View University on January 31 and February 2, 2020. One of my favorite artists, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, will return for La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) for the 2nd Stages Series. This one-woman show by Francis Poulenc was heavily influenced by film maker Jean Cocteau and the technology of the 1950s. Here it will be sung in English and examine how the human desire to connect to one another remains at cross purposes with devices and continues to challenge us still today. Seating is very limited for these two performances so don’t delay in getting your tickets today.
Subscription renewals are on sale now. Because we expect that single tickets for these particular shows will be in high demand, I urge you to secure your preferred renewals or new subscriptions in this early bird phase.
Even though the last notes have been sung, the stage has been struck and over 200 artists, musicians and technicians have scattered to the corners of the globe, I hope your memories and experiences this past summer will remain with you for years to come and inspire us to even greater heights in 2020!
All of us at DMMO join me in thanking you for your part in making the 2019 season one for the record books!