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Des Moines Metro Opera Announces Repertory for the 2015 Festival Season and 2nd Stages Series

Posted July 02, 2014 in Web Exclusives

Indianola, IA –On June 27, 2014, Des Moines Metro Opera opened Verdi’s La Traviata to a capacity crowd. That performance ushered in the 42nd Festival Season in the company’s history. It also marked the occasion for the announcement of Des Moines Metro Opera’s 43rd Festival Season. “As a company, we are always looking ahead,” said Michael Egel, General and Artistic Director at Des Moines Metro Opera. “We have just opened a remarkable Summer Festival Season that includes one of the most diverse line-ups in our history.  We are now pleased to announce the upcoming season that continues our mission to present a dynamic tapestry of works which will appeal to both first-time opera goers as well as the many opera attendees who travel to our festival each summer from all over the United States.”

For the 43rd Summer Festival Season, three full-scale operas will be presented in 15 performances between June 26 and July 19, 2015, presented at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, IA. The 43rd Summer Festival Season continues Mr. Egel’s vision of producing one or more company premieres every summer.  The following operas will be offered for the 2015 Summer Festival Season:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio – sung in German
Giacomo Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West – sung in Italian
Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa
– sung in Czech (Company Premiere)

The new season will also continue the company’s 2nd Stages Series, another part of Mr. Egel’s new vision for the organization.  Now in its second year, this series is an initiative designed to present operas in non-traditional spaces in Des Moines proper. As part of the 2nd Stages Series, the company will present the following productions:

Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers – sung in English (Company Premiere)
Presented in collaboration with StageWest Theater Company’s production of Paula Vogel’s
The Baltimore Waltz
December 5, 6, 7, 2014
The Temple for the Performing Arts

Daniel Catán’s Rappaccini’s Daugther – sung in English (Company Premiere)
July 9 and 12, 2015
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

“The 2015 Season is a stunning line-up of operas that both compliment and contrast each other in remarkable and exciting ways,” Egel says. “The repertory offers the welcome return of a pair of works by two of opera’s greatest composers, Mozart and Puccini, but will also including three premieres. ”
The Abduction from the Seraglio, which opens the season on June 26, is often referred to as Mozart’s first great opera. Mozart was said to have been delighted with the text from the very beginning and he lavished on it some of his finest music.  This humorous tale of a Turkish ruler’s pursuit of his beautiful young prisoner brilliantly plays on the timeless human foibles that still make Mozart’s work ring true. This comic masterpiece returns to the repertory in a fresh, highly theatrical co-production between Des Moines Metro Opera and Kentucky Opera.  This new production will be lead by debut director Chas Rader-Shieber and will feature the debuts of tenor Benjamin Bliss as Belmonte and Matthew Boehler as Osmin.  This production was last produced by Des Moines Metro Opera in 1991.

The 2014 Summer Festival continues with the return of The Girl of the Golden West by Giacomo Puccini, which will open on June 27.  The opera, first heard just over a century ago, is set in the American West during the California Gold Rush. Featuring a cast of ruthless bandits, rough-talking but goodhearted miners, a cynical sheriff and one remarkable female saloon-keeper, it tells a story of love, money, justice, and forgiveness that is as thrilling as any Western movie, wrapped in an unmistakably Italian score. The Girl of the Golden West returns to Des Moines Metro Opera after a 23-year hiatus, having been last produced in 1992.

Jenůfa, which launched the career of composer Leoš Janáček in 1904, will open on July 5.  The work is
Des Moines Metro Opera’s first encounter with Czech opera and will mark a company premiere.  Laced with folk traditions but melded with the trend of social realism in 19th-century Czech literature, this unsentimental portrait of ordinary people is a beautiful story of redemption and the strength of the human spirit.  Lead by Principal Conductor/Music Director David Neely in a new production, Jenůfa will feature soprano Brenda Harris as Kostenička and Joyce Castle as Grandmother Buryjovka who reunite following their acclaimed performances together in 2013’s Elektra.

The 2015 Season will see the continuation of Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2nd Stages Series. The initiative was conceived as an expansion of the company’s very successful Summer Festival Season and to build on Des Moines Metro Opera’s rapidly expanding capacity as a true community partner. In this way, the 2nd Stages Series has exposed audiences to this remarkable art form through operatic presentations in unorthodox spaces. The initiative was launched in 2013 with the holiday presentation of Amahl and the Night Visitors at Hoyt Sherman place and continues in the current season with Brook’s The Tragedy of Carmen at the Des Moines Social Club on July 10 and 19 of 2014.

In the 2015 season, the 2nd Stages Series furthers its commitment to community collaboration with a production of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers presented as a double bill with Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz, a play produced by StageWest Theater Company. The two one-act pieces will be presented together on December 5, 6 and 7 at the Temple for the Performing Arts. The effort is centered around World AIDS Day, December 1 as both pieces are comment on the destructive power of AIDS. A portion of the proceeds from the performances will be donated to The Project of Primary Health Care. Three Decembers is a chamber opera in one act based on the unpublished play Some Christmas Letters by Terrence McNally. The three parts of the opera are set in the month of December in the years 1986, 1996 and 2006 and tell the story of a famous actress and her two adult children. “This is a contemporary opera that is poignant and sad but also funny and true.” says Egel. Three Decembers is a company premiere.

Single tickets for Three Decembers will be made available on September 1, 2014 for $50. Audiences are encouraged to secure tickets early as seats for these three performances will be limited and in high demand from both opera lovers and theater patrons.  For every ticket sold, $3 will be donated to The Project of Primary Heath Care.

Rappaccini’s Daughter by Daniel Catán is based on the short story of Nathaniel Hawthorne and tells the story of a young man in love with the daughter of a mysteriously isolated botanist. The young man pursues the object of his desire into her father’s lush but dangerous gardens to discover the nature of the experiments Dr. Rappaccini has been up to. The production has been scheduled for July 2015 at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. “This is an ideal marriage of story and place,” Egel says. “To do this opera, which contains exotic plants, gardens and the power of nature, in a space like the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will weave an immersive and special spell on the audience.” The opera was premiered in Mexico City in 1991 and is a company premiere at Des Moines Metro Opera.

Tickets for Rappaccini’s Daughter will be available beginning on March 1, 2015.

Past subscribers are eligible to renew their Summer Festival Season subscriptions now and starting October 1, new subscriptions will be on sale to the general public. Subscribers save an average of more than 12% over buying single tickets and have the benefit of reserving their seats before single tickets go on sale on March 1, 2015.  Ticket information will be available by visiting after August 1 or by calling Des Moines Metro Opera’s box office at (515) 961-6221. Summer Festival Season subscriptions range in price from $110 to $245.

Des Moines Metro Opera is a major American Summer Opera Festival founded in 1973 and is the state’s largest performing arts organization, annually producing over 100 performances in the metro area and around the region. The company’s Summer Festival Season runs from May through July of each year during which three operas are performed in repertory for 15-16 mainstage performances. The Summer Festival Season takes place at the 467-seat Pote Theater at the Blank Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Since its founding in 1973, Des Moines Metro Opera has presented 135 productions including 73 titles. The company was founded by Robert L. Larsen as Artistic Director and Douglas Duncan as Managing Director. Michael was named General and Artistic Director in 2010 with David Neely appointed as Principal Conductor and Music Director in 2012.  In 2013 Opera News magazine called Des Moines Metro Opera an “Essential Unexpected U.S. Summer Opera Venue.”

In addition to providing mainstage productions, Des Moines Metro Opera is responsible for OPERA Iowa Educational Touring Troupe, which brings opera to classrooms across Iowa and to nearly 24,000 students, OPERAtion Opera Community Outreach Program, which works with more than 30 human service agencies to provide opera to underserved and at-risk audiences, the Apprentice Artist Program, one of the largest singer-training programs in the country, and two new programs: The Design and Production Internship Program, a training program for students within the theater arts who wish to expand experience and gain the skills necessary for a successful professional career; and Raising Voices –  Rising Stars program which gives high school musicians the opportunity to explore career opportunities from the rare vantage point within a professional opera company.

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