Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Des Moines Metro Opera

This Magical Evening of 0pera plays through July 23

By: Jul. 13, 2022
Review: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Des Moines Metro Opera

Starting a theatre company is no easy feat, but for a theatre to be around for 50 years is something worth celebrating. You can celebrate 50 years with Des Moines Metro Opera this summer, which just opened up its 50th season with two spectacular productions. The season opened up a sold-out run of The Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" with Simon Estes in his farewell performance. I've heard excellent things about the production. The opera continued its opening weekend with "The Voice" finalist John Holiday in Benjamin Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," based on the Shakespeare play by the same name.

The show tells the story of Oberon, who decides to play a trick on Tytania. He has his servant Puck pull a special flower that Cupid's arrow has touched. When Oberon comes across Helena, he decides to have Puck use the flower on Helena. Puck confuses Hermia for Helena and uses the flower on her, causing Helena to want the same man as Helena. This leads to further confusion when Puck uses his magic on Nick Bottom, one of the men in Peter Quice's traveling troop. The mixups and mayhem that follow through the rest of the show will delight the audiences at Des Moines Metro Opera.

One of the great parts of this production was walking into the theatre and being immersed in the beautiful set by Jacob A Climer, who also designed costumes for the show. One thing I appreciated about his costumes was that each group within the show had very distinctive costumes. The fairies had whimsical white costumes. Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena all looked as though they were dressed in their school colors, and then Peter Quince and his crew were all dressed in red and white. I only wish there had been some element to tie each of these groups together in the costuming. One of my favorite moments is when Climer's sets, and the gorgeous lighting from Connie Yun, come together to start and close each act. The best way to describe it is that it awakens the stage to start each act and puts it back to sleep at the end.

Under the direction of conductor Elizabeth Askren, the orchestra beautifully plays the music of Britten and lulls the audience into a dreamlike state from the beginning of the show. They accompany the beautiful countertenor voice of John Holiday as Oberon and the gorgeous soprano voice of Sydney Mancasola. Both are making their grand return to Des Moines Metro Opera. Completing their trio in the spoken role of Puck is Liam Beck-O'Sullivan.

The fantastic performances continue with Isaiah Bell, Alexander Birch Elliott, Tamara Gura, and Susanne Burgess as the lovers Lysander, Hermia, Demetrius, and Helena. Each of them does a fantastic job of bringing these youthful lovers to the stage. They were able to play these characters in a way that felt as though they could have been pulled out of a classic '80s teenage movie. I thoroughly enjoyed watching their scenes and thought they captured the essence of the ups and downs of young love.

It wouldn't be a performance of "A Midsummer Night's dream without a performance by Peter Quince's touring troop of actors. DMMO has assembled a terrific group of actors to bring this troop to the stage. They all had an everyman feel, which played well throughout the show. One of my favorite moments of theirs was when they first saw Barnaby Rea's, Nick Bottom, first appear as an ass. The fear in their eyes played up the humor of the scene.

Des Moines Metro Opera is kicking off its 50th season with a classic production that feels both timeless and modern. From the amazing sets, to the beautiful costumes and lighting, to the fantastic directing and acting, each aspect comes together to make for a fun and relaxing night of theatre. If you want tickets to this show, or "Porgy and Bess," you will need to sign up on a waiting list as most performances are sold out. If you are interested in seeing a production this summer, some seats are still available for the world premiere of "A Thousand Acres" and the Iowa premiere of "American Apollo." To purchase tickets or to get on the waiting list, visit

2023 Regional Awards


Purchase Colleges Opera Company to Present Family Favorite, HANSEL AND GRETEL, For The Hol Photo
Purchase College's Opera Company to Present Family Favorite, HANSEL AND GRETEL, For The Holidays

This Holiday season, Purchase Opera presents a playful version of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel for families and adults of all ages in the Recital Hall in the Conservatory of Music. Audiences are invited to come in costume for the special Sunday matinee.

Tulsa Opera to Present Menottis THE MEDIUM This Month Photo
Tulsa Opera to Present Menotti's THE MEDIUM This Month

Get ready for a spine-tingling performance as Tulsa Opera presents Gian Carlo Menotti's haunting masterpiece, The Medium, at Studio 308 in Tulsa's East Village. Explore the enigmatic world of Madame Flora and experience a gripping narrative that delves into the dark and supernatural. Don't miss this perfect spooky event just in time for Halloween. Tickets available now.

Heartbeat Opera Reveals Lineup For 10th Anniversary 2023-24 Season Photo
Heartbeat Opera Reveals Lineup For 10th Anniversary 2023-24 Season

New York's Heartbeat Opera has announced its Tenth Anniversary Season in 2023-24. Learn more about the full upcoming season here!

Review: NABUCCO, Verdi’s First Big Hit, Returns to the Met with a Terrifying Monasty Photo
Review: NABUCCO, Verdi’s First Big Hit, Returns to the Met with a Terrifying Monastyrska

The Met’s production of NABUCCO from Elijah Moshinsky may date back to 2001 but its style hearkens back even further--a fancy, old-fashioned unit set that uses the house’s big turntable--and it’s a whale of a show, design-wise, thanks to John Napier’s scenic design.

From This Author - DC Felton

David Felton has been involved in theatre since his middle school production of The Wizard of Oz. Throughout high school he stayed onstage, and once he got to college he started exploring thebackstage... DC Felton">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Juan Diego Flórez / Vincenzo Scalera
Carnegie Hall (11/29-11/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Regula Mühlemann / Tatiana Korsunskaya
Carnegie Hall (5/08-5/08)
#repshow# in[i]# Matthias Goerne / Evgeny Kissin
Carnegie Hall (4/25-4/25)
#repshow# in[i]# Sir Bryn Terfel
Carnegie Hall (11/14-11/14)
#repshow# in[i]# SongStudio: Renée Fleming Master Class
Carnegie Hall (1/26-1/26)
#repshow# in[i]# Diana Damrau / Helmut Deutsch
Carnegie Hall (2/06-2/06)
#repshow# in[i]# Joyce DiDonato Master Class
Carnegie Hall (10/22-10/22)
#repshow# in[i]# SongStudio: Angel Blue Master Class
Carnegie Hall (1/24-1/24)
#repshow# in[i]# Camille’s Rainbow
Carnegie Hall (10/31-10/31)
#repshow# in[i]# Lea Desandre / Thomas Dunford
Carnegie Hall (11/02-11/02)