Des Moines Metro Opera celebrates 50 years with Scholar-in-Residence

Opera music

The Des Moines Metro Opera celebrates its 50th anniversary with the Scholars-in-Residence program for the 2022 festival season.

Naomi André is Professor of Women’s Studies in the Department of African American and African Studies and the Arts and Ideas in the Humanities Program at Residential College, University of Michigan.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to experience such a sophisticated, lyrical and carefully curated summer opera festival,” said André.

As DMMO Researcher-in-Residence, André will create and participate in a series of podcasts, lead conversations, provide previews and host special events focused on her research on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice and race.

“Dr. André’s research and scholarship places opera at the intersection of today’s most challenging ideas and issues, such as racial equity and gender representation. aligns perfectly with the themes of the four operas we will present this summer,” said DMMO General and Artistic Director Michael Egel.

The opera presents Porgy and BessDream of a summer night,” “thousand acres” and “American Apollo.”

André holds a BA in Music from Barnard College and an MA and PhD in Musicology from Harvard University. She is the author of “Black Opera: history, power, commitment“, which quickly became a leading work in the field of opera. She is also the author of “Voicing Gender: Castrati, Transvestite, and the Second Woman in Early 19th-Century Italian Opera” and co-editor of “Blackness at the Opera.”

The Des Moines Metro Opera is an opera company located in Indianola. Founded in 1973, it is one of Iowa’s largest performing arts organizations, producing more than 100 performances annually in the metro area and throughout the region.

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DMMO Events with Researcher in Residence Naomi André

Event: Then and Now: “Porgy and Bess” in 2022

  • Date: June 2
  • Time: 7 p.m.
  • Location: Turner Jazz Center, Drake University

André will lead a conversation with members of the company from DMMO’s upcoming production as they share their views on the acclaimed opera ‘Porgy and Bess’. Panelists will discuss key topics where the opera has challenged since it opened in 1935 – including cultural representation and the marginalization of black communities. Additionally, the panel will provide perspective on the role of “Porgy and Bess” today and how it could help the opera community in its efforts to make the art form more inclusive. Selections from the opera will be performed. Participation is free, but registration is mandatory.

Event: Creators in Conversation

  • Date: July 9
  • Time: 1:30 p.m.
  • Venue: Sheslow Auditorium, Drake University

Just hours before the world premiere of “A Thousand Acres” by Kristin Kuster and Mark Campbell, André will host a panel discussion between Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jane Smiley and members of the opera’s creative team to reflect on the musical and dramatic setting of the novel. . Participation is free, but registration is mandatory.

Event: Singing Black Stories: A Concert of Selected Works

  • Date: July 16
  • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Location: Franklin Jr. High, Des Moines

In a specially curated performance, André and members of the DMMO Apprentice Artist Program come together for a lecture and performance of selected works by black composers, including Terence Blanchard, William Grant Still, Shawn Okpebholo and Nkeiru Okoye. The selections featured represent works of historical significance, contemporary compositions, and personal significance to performers. Participation is free, but registration is mandatory.

Event: “American Apollo”

  • Dates: July 20, 21, 23
  • Weather:
  • Location: Des Moines Art Center

André will conclude his DMMO residency at the Des Moines Arts Center with preview performances of “American Apollo”, a new chamber opera by Damien Geter and Lila Palmer which gives voice to a pivotal figure in American art: Thomas Eugene McKeller, a black model who inspired famous portrait painter John Singer Sargent. André will participate in a discussion with members of the opera’s creative team and Nathaniel Silver, curator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in anticipation of the work’s 2024 debut as a full opera. Tickets for “American Apollo” are $30.

Teresa Kay Albertson covers the southern suburbs of Des Moines for the Register and the Indianola Record-Herald. Contact her at [email protected] or 515-419-6098.