DMMO Prepares For Grand Opening Of The Lauridsen Opera Center

DMMO Prepares For Grand Opening Of The Lauridsen Opera Center

Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) is pleased to announce completion of The Lauridsen Opera Center, a $3.5 million dollar renovation, restoration and expansion of Indianola's historic 1904 Carnegie Library building, located at 106 West Boston Avenue. DMMO purchased the building in 1985 from the City of Indianola through a generous gift from Mary Belle Windsor. Since then, it has served as the year-round community engagement and administrative home of the organization. Substantial construction work began on May 1, 2018. The new opera center is named for Des Moines-based philanthropists Nixon and Virginia Lauridsen who provided a $1 million leadership gift in support of the project. The Grand Opening will occur on June 29, 2019 and other opportunities exist (see below) for the public to tour the building.

"The Lauridsen Opera Center project provides forward motion for a mature organization rapidly approaching its 50th Anniversary in 2022. It also honors our rich artistic heritage through architectural preservation and museum-quality gallery space designed to showcase our impressive design history. Scenic watercolors, stage production elements, costume showcases and poster art from the first season in 1973 onward have been preserved and beautifully displayed. We're thrilled to be able to share them with the public, along with the entire facility," said Michael Egel, Des Moines Metro Opera's General and Artistic Director.

Existing spaces in the Carnegie Library have been enhanced to meet the needs of a growing company. Educational programs such as OPERA Iowa and the 2nd Stages Series now have functional, dedicated rehearsal areas. Efficiencies to improve work flow, productivity and energy systems will enhance daily staff efforts. Open vistas and access to natural light support employee and artist well-being. Historical wood trims and architectural details have been restored and blended with contemporary finishes and work stations. Most visible of all is the new Robert L. Larsen Atrium, an 1,800 square foot all-glass contemporary addition which allows the original north façade of the library to be seen in its entirely. The addition creates a dynamic, inviting new space that will be available for community events and is an ADA-compliant environment, ensuring that persons of all ages and capabilities can easily access the building and participate in DMMO programming.

"The new Lauridsen Opera Center allows us to more accurately express our Company's vibrancy, goals, and mission. We've created an open, inviting workspace, and this new environment gives us the ability to meet evolving administrative needs. I'm also proud that we've designed a space that reflects the rich artistic and community legacy which has propelled us to success over 47 years. I view the unveiling of The Lauridsen Opera Center as the prelude towards ever more exciting announcements in the lead-up to our 50th Anniversary in 2022. We are extremely grateful to the donors and community members who made this project happen" said Egel.

The Words and Music at the Carnegie Capital Campaign raised over $4 million, exceeding its original $3.5 million goal. More than 175 donors participated in the campaign, including supporters from both Des Moines and Indianola. This included over $1 million given in support of the effort by donors from Indianola and Warren County. OPN Architects designed the renovation and expansion of the Lauridsen Opera Center. In August of 2017 the Carnegie Library gained acceptance onto the National Register of Historic Places.

Grand Opening Gala; Saturday, June 29 at 5:00pm

Attendees at the Grand Opening Gala will be among the first to see the new facility while as a part of this annual fundraiser for the Company's music education programs. Following the ribbon cutting and drinks on the lawn, take a tour of the Lauridsen Opera Center and then enjoy dinner in a one-night-only return of DMMO's memorable air-conditioned tent.

Indianola Community Open House and BBQ; Sunday June 30; 5:00-7:00pm

To express our appreciation of and offer a welcome to our community, residents of Warren County and Indianola are invited to this free event featuring self-guided tours of the facility. Enjoy complimentary dinner and dessert provided by Hy-Vee and Gib's A&W.

Saturday Afternoons at the Carnegie; July 6, 13 and 20, 4:00-6:00pm

Prior to our each of our Saturday evening performances in July, an open house will held to allow our out-of-town guests, both from the greater Des Moines region as well as our cultural tourists in for the weekend, to experience the new Lauridsen Opera Center. Light refreshments will be provided.

For more information or to interview DMMO's General and Artistic Director, Michael Egel, please contact Scott Arens at or 515-961-6221, ext 109.

Des Moines Metro Opera is a nationally recognized, progressive opera company that has taken its place among America's leading opera festivals. Founded in 1973, it is Iowa's largest performing arts organization, annually producing over 100 performances in the metro area and around the state and region. Last year 94,000 people experienced Des Moines Metro Opera programming via mainstage performances, educational programs and statewide television and radio broadcasts. In 2017 the Chicago Tribune called DMMO one of "the oldest and most enterprising summer opera fests in the nation," and titled their review of the season, "World-class opera grows tall and proud in the Corn Belt."

The Company's Summer Festival Season runs from May through July of each year during which time three operas are performed in repertory for 15 mainstage performances. The Summer Festival Season takes place in the 467-seat Pote Theater at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, Iowa. Each season the Company welcomes audiences from nearly 40 states, most Iowa counties and several countries. The 2019 Summer Festival Season runs from June 28 through July 21, 2019.

The Company develops audiences of all ages through five educational programs. The OPERA Iowa Educational Touring Troupe and the Apprentice Artist Program for singers are two of the long-standing, flagship programs of the education division. Des Moines Metro Opera serves more than 40,000 people each year across the state through its educational programming.

Des Moines Metro Opera serves its city as a cultural leader through unique community programming and collaborations. The 2nd Stages Series creates collaborative performances designed to engage audiences in creative spaces.

More information about Des Moines Metro Opera is available at

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