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Des Moines Metro Opera Announces Repertory for 2021 Summer Festival


2021 Festival includes Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades, Rameau’s Platée and Spears/Pierce’s Fellow Travelers.

Des Moines Metro Opera Announces Repertory for 2021 Summer Festival

Des Moines Metro Opera announced today the repertory for the organization's 2021 Summer Festival, which runs July 2 through July 25, 2021. After an overwhelming response from ticket buyers to maintain last season's unique repertory, DMMO will once again present mainstage performances of Stephen Sondheim's Tony Award-winning musical Sweeney Todd, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's lesser-known dramatic masterpiece, The Queen of Spades, and Jean-Philippe Rameau's Baroque comedy Platée, as well as a production of Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce's Fellow Travelers as part of the organization's 2nd Stages Series.

"Though we weren't able to gather in person last season, work continued on our three new productions throughout the summer and fall. Our designers and production personnel have been able to persist with designs begun, in large part, well over a year ago. Many of our ticket holders expressed their hope that we could present these titles for the next season and we're happy to be able to do so," said Egel. "This repertory is dynamic, vibrant and varied. And even the designs are as contrasting from one another as the titles. I cannot wait for you to see them."

The productions of Sweeney Todd, Platée and The Queen of Spades will be performed in rotating repertory in the 467-seat Pote Theatre at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, Iowa. Fellow Travelers will be performed at the historic Hoyt Sherman Place theater in Des Moines. The Des Moines Metro Opera Festival Orchestra, made up of professional musicians from across the country, will accompany all four productions. As always, Des Moines Metro Opera will continue to provide free opera previews prior to each performance and every production will feature English captions projected above the stage.

"Of course, the health and safety of our artists, staff and audience members will be our primary concern as we continue planning for 2021," said Egel. "We will announce detailed health and safety measures as the festival draws nearer and implement the most up-to-date recommendations. Additionally, we hope to populate our festival calendar with familiar events and exciting new initiatives that we will announce at a later date as the contours of the global pandemic become clearer. For now, we will proceed with a healthy dose of optimism and a hope that we will be able to welcome audiences in person in 2021."

All 2020 ticket buyers are eligible to renew their past subscriptions or single tickets beginning February 1, 2021. New subscriptions and single tickets will go on sale on March 1, 2021. Full production and ticket information may be found at or by calling (515) 961-6221.

The Lauridsen Family Foundation is the presenting sponsor of Des Moines Metro Opera's 2021 Summer Festival.


Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Hugh Wheeler
Based on Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Christopher Bond
Six performances: 7/2, 7/4*, 7/9, 7/17*, 7/22, 7/25*
Sung in English with English supertitles.

A new Des Moines Metro Opera production.

Sweeney Todd was the rage of Broadway when it premiered in 1979, winning eight Tony Awards including Best Musical. In the years since, it has migrated to the world's opera houses, thanks to its thrilling score, full of magnificent solos and sophisticated ensembles, and its larger-than-life characters. Des Moines Metro Opera was on the vanguard of opera companies presenting this intriguing musical thriller as part of the 1995 Summer Festival Season. The company's new production will be led by Principal Conductor and Music Director David Neely and stage director Kristine McIntyre. Baritone Zachary Nelson and mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer make their DMMO debuts as Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett, respectively. Additional casting includes baritone Ben Edquist as Anthony, soprano Grace Kahl as Johanna, bass-baritone Wayne Tigges as Judge Turpin, mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams as the Beggar Woman, tenor Corey Bix as Beadle Bamford and tenor Peter Scott Drackley as Adolfo Pirelli. This new production features scenic design by R. Keith Brumley, lighting design by Kate Ashton, and costume design by Jonathan Knipscher.


Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky

Based on The Queen of Spades by Alexander Pushkin

Five performances: 7/3, 7/11*, 7/13, 7/16, 7/24

Sung in Russian with English supertitles.

A new Des Moines Metro Opera production. Company premiere.

Tchaikovsky anticipated the 20th century with this surreal masterpiece about obsession and psychosis, qualities given all the more power juxtaposed with the elegant milieu and music of its 18th-century setting. Like Eugene Onegin, it is based on a celebrated work by Pushkin, but with a critical difference-Onegin was aptly subtitled "lyrical scenes," while The Queen of Spades, composed in 44 days of intense inspiration, is an inexorable drama played out in a sweeping 19th century score. This brooding, ambitious ghost story set against the backdrop of Imperial Russia features the return to the company of tenor Jonathan Burton as Gherman and soprano Sara Gartland as Lisa joined by acclaimed mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle making her 140th role debut as the Countess. Additional casting includes baritone Benjamin Taylor as Count Tomsky, mezzo Carolyn Sproule as Polina, baritone Alexander Elliott as Prince Yeletsky and soprano Symone Harcum as Mascha. This production will be led by David Neely and stage director Matthew Ozawa returns to direct this new production with scenic design by Andrew Boyce and lighting design by Sarah Riffle.


Music by Jean-Philippe Rameau

Libretto by Adrien-Joseph Le Valois d'Orville

Three performances: 7/10, 7/18*, 7/23

Sung in French with English supertitles.

A new Des Moines Metro Opera production. Company premiere.

Written for a royal wedding at Versailles, Platée rivals the famed palace's architectural exuberance. Above it all is a celebration of Rameau's incredibly fertile imagination for vocal and instrumental wit and characterization. DMMO presents this company premiere and first foray into French Baroque music in a new production led by conductor Gary Thor Wedow and directed by Chas Rader-Shieber. Tenor Taylor Stayton returns to sing his first Platée with bass Zachary James and mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams making role debuts as Jupiter and Juno, respectively. Soprano Elizabeth Sutphen makes a DMMO and role debut as La Folie. This new production features scenic and costume design by Jacob A. Climer, lighting design by Nate Wheatley and choreography by Isaac Martin Lerner.


Music by Gregory Spears
Libretto by Greg Pierce

Based on Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon

One performance: 7/17
Sung in English with English supertitles.

Company premiere. A production of Cincinnati Opera

Fellow Travelers parallels the "Red Scare" of the 1950s with its depiction of the little-known "Lavender Scare," a US government employment purge that resulted in thousands of firings and resignations of men and women believed to be gay. Opera News called Fellow Travelers "An absorbing, gripping, throroughly attractive piece with considerable contemporary relevance and complex, three-dimensional characters." The budding attraction between Tim and Hawkins has "all the infectious warmth, humor, and sweetness of the early scenes in La Bohéme," said The New York Times. "With its smart music and sharp-edged romantic drama, Fellow Travelers seems assured of lasting appeal." This production features baritone Joseph Lattanzi in the role of Hawkins Fuller, soprano Grace Kahl as Mary Johnson, baritone Benjamin Taylor as Tommy McIntyre and soprano Amanda Sheriff as Miss Lightfoot. Marcus Shields makes his DMMO debut directing this Cincinnati Opera production.

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