Des Moines Metro Opera
The Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) is based in Indianola, Iowa, a town of approximately 14,000 located 12 miles south of Des Moines, Iowa. DMMO was founded by Dr. Robert L. Larsen and Douglas Duncan in 1973.
A summer opera festival, the company usually performs three operas in rolling repertory during June and July. Although created as an opera company for the Midwest, the company's audience base has grown over the years. As of 2008 it claims audiences from some 35 states and several foreign countries. The company also sends its educational arm, Opera Iowa, to sites throughout the state from fall through spring. Typically a troupe of several singers, a pianist and technical director, Opera Iowa has also traveled for educational performances in nine neighboring states and participated in exchange programs with like organizations in Japan and China.
Although the running of DMMO has passed down through the hands of several business managers over the years, from its inception in 1973 through the 2010 season, Dr. Robert L. Larsen was the sole guiding artistic force for the company. In this capacity, he selected the operas (subject to Board approval), cast all principal singers and apprentices, and both directed and conducted each performance. In addition, he created scene assignments for all apprentices, which are performed publicly as an aspect of their educational activities.
In the fall of 2010 Michael Egel was appointed Artistic Director to replace Robert Larsen, and was named General Director in 2013. David Neely was appointed Music Director and Principal Conductor in 2012. Larsen remains with the company as Director Emeritus in a lifetime appointment.
Most of DMMO's opera productions are performed at the Blank Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Simpson College. With 488 seats arranged in a semicircle, the Blank Center provides an intimate setting for opera. This intimacy is enhanced by an unusual stage design which features a semicircular stage in front of the orchestra pit, in addition to the traditional proscenium stage behind the orchestra pit. This semicircular stage, or "playing circle", is separated from the front row of audience seats by only a railing. Bridges crossing over the orchestra on each side allow performers to move between the two stage areas. Occasionally, DMMO has presented productions at a larger venue, the Civic Center in Des Moines.
Initially committed to producing opera in English, DMMO first presented a foreign-language production, Tosca, in 1998 at the Civic Center in Des Moines.  Since then, the company's season typically includes one opera in English and two operas in other languages (Italian, German or French), all presented with supertitles. The season also usually includes an opera written in the twentieth century.
Singers and the Apprentice program
An important function of the Des Moines Metro Opera is its apprentice program (The James M. Collier Apprentice Artist Program). Every summer the program affords approximately forty young singers an opportunity to study the work of seasoned performers and to work with opera coaches and directors. The apprentice artists perform in the chorus, prepare short scenes, and in some cases understudy principal singers and perform small solos in main-stage productions. More than 1,000 singers have passed through the apprentice program since its inception in 1975.
Productions outside the standard opera repertory
In addition to one or two productions from the standard reportory each season, the company has presented many that are either new or rarely performed. These include:
- Egel and Smith, p. 24
- Kellow, Brian (June 2003), "Letter From Des Moines", Opera News 67 (12): pp. 44–46
- Morain, Michael (June 2008), "Wizard of Iowa", Opera News: pp. 36—37
- Egel and Smith, p. 28
- Morain, Michael (2010). "Des Moines Metro Opera names Egel as director". DesMoinesRegister.com. Retrieved 21 September 2010.
- Rockwell, John, "Opera: Hoiby's The Tempest in Iowa", The New York Times, 12 July 1986
- Egel and Smith, p. 27
- "Simpson Singers Achieving National Success", Simpson Magazine, Winter 1991: p. 9
- Engel, Michael and Smith, McB (2007), Des Moines Metro Opera, A 35-Year Perspective, Des Moines, Iowa: Des Moines Metro Opera, ISBN 978-0-615-17627-7