My First Opera

In this new series, DMMO Board Member and Iowa City resident Tim Krumm reflects on his first experience with Des Moines Metro Opera.

Tim Krumm
Tim Krumm

The first opera I remember seeing at DMMO is Madama Butterfly in 1974 with my mom, dad, my brother David and Grandma Laura. The great Carol Stuart was singing the role of Cio-Cio-San, and though I’m sure she was tremendous that night, at age 13 I was more
drawn in by the theater craft. As an inexperienced opera-goer, I had not been prepared for the tragic ending, but seeing my grandmother so obviously moved by it made a huge impression on me.

That is my first opera memory. There are other early memories: the popcorn—my dad, in particular, loved—and meeting the cast and Maestro Larsen after shows. We lived in Newton, so as long as we were either still at home or able to make it back, my parents would take my brother and me to most of DMMO’s performances. The drive home was often late at night, during which we always discussed the show. Everybody would weigh in on everything from the singers we liked (and didn’t) to the things we noticed happening on stage (sets, etc.). It was always interesting and also served to keep Dad awake on the drive home!

Gwen Jones as Octavian and Elizabeth Wakefield as the Marschallin in DMMO’s Der Rosenkavalier (1992).

I understand why some people find opera inaccessible, but this has never been the case for me—and I know the early introduction provided by my parents is why. Mom and Dad also made it possible for our kids—their grandchildren—to see opera at DMMO. In the case of our oldest, Laura, her first opera was Der Rosenkavalier in 1992 when she was just shy of age five. Though Rosenkavalier was long, Laura was attentive throughout, and it ended up being the first of many for her. While our boys also benefited from early exposure to the arts, we can’t help but credit it specifically for Laura’s choice to become a professional opera singer.


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