About DMMO

Des Moines Metro Opera has taken its place as a major American summer opera festival and is one of the Midwest’s largest performing arts organizations, annually producing over 100 performances in the metro area and around the region. The company’s summer festival season runs from May through July of each year during which three operas are performed in repertory. The summer festival season takes place in the intimate 467-seat Pote Theater at the Blank Center for the Performing Arts in Indianola, Iowa. All productions, regardless of language, are performed with English supertitles above the stage.

Unique among local arts organizations and national opera companies, the company’s programming encompasses a distinctive mix of styles from five centuries of composition, with a special emphasis on fascinating combinations of early and mid-20th century masterpieces infrequently heard in the United States. Recent seasons have seen Elektra with Peter Grimes; The Love For Three Oranges with Bluebeard’s Castle; Wozzeck with Candide; and Salome with Pelléas et Mélisande as well as next season’s The Rake’s Progress with The Cunning Little Vixen. Seasons generally open with a standard from the operatic or American musical theatre canons and nearly all productions of the festival are presented in new and original productions in one of the world’s most remarkable and intimate performing theatres. We demonstrate that opera is a contemporary and creative art form.

A special priority is given to thoughtful casting, important role debuts and showcase opportunities for some of the opera world's most important rising talent. Recent seasons have featured John Holiday, Christian Van Horn, Sara Gartland, Ben Bliss, Sydney Mancasola, Joshua Guerrero, Raven McMillon, Vanessa Vasquez, Jon Burton, Sun-Ly Pierce, Alexander Birch Elliott and Barnaby Rea. Current debuts include Duke Kim, Vartan Gabrielian, Chad Shelton, Alex McKissick, Justin Ausitn, Brandon Cedel and Edward Nelson. Featured alongside these singers are esteemed, accomplished artists such as Joyce Castle, Gwen Jones, Ashraf Selwailam, William Burden, Mary Dunleavy and Simon Estes as well as members of the company’s acclaimed Frank R. Brownell III Apprentice Artist Program in comprimario roles. Together, DMMO creates a spectacular array of professional talent assembled from across the world.

DMMO enlarges experiences through curated series of concerts, lectures, art shows, film screenings and unique performance collaborations such as those in our 2nd Stages Series. We cultivate the next generation of musicians and music lovers through programs like the Apprentice Artist and the OPERA Iowa Programs. The company has earned a reputation for quality and a loyalty that annually draws audience members from more than 40 states and every zip code in the metro. DMMO believes that an entirely professional theatrical organization should be a cornerstone of our growing region and we serve that need.

DMMO receives annual reviews from industry publications such as Opera with Opera News and Opera Today. The company has also been featured in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Kansas City StarThe New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, which said in 2017, “Shrewd programming, thoughtful casting and top flight production values have won the company wide acclaim. Those big-city opera snobs who would equate regional opera with provincial opera haven’t reckoned on DMMO.”

100% of the seats in our 467-seat theater are closer to the center of the stage than the front row at the Metropolitan Opera or the Lyric Opera of Chicago, so you are up close and personal with the powerful drama on stage.

The scale, combined with the focus on storytelling—all of Des Moines Metro Opera’s productions are sung in original language and feature English titles projected from two locations above the stage—helps to turn beautiful music into powerful drama.

Standard operatic masterpieces have consistently been presented alongside works from our own land and in our own language. Our new commitment to presenting at least one opera new to our company each season began in 2012 with Eugene Onegin, 2013's Elektra, 2014's Dead Man Walking and Le Comte Ory, 2015's JenůfaThree Decembers and La hija de Rappaccini, 2016's Orphée et Eurydice and Galileo Galilei, 2017's Billy BuddA Little Night MusicMaría de Buenos Aires and Soldier Songs, 2018's As OneRusalkaFlight and The Tender Land, 2019's Wozzeck, Glory Denied and Bon Appétit!, 2021's The Queen of Spades, Platée, and Fellow Travelers, 2022's Porgy and Bess and A Thousand Acres and American Apollo, and 2023's Bluebeard's Castle, The Love for Three Oranges, dwb (driving while black) and The Falling and the Rising.

Central to Des Moines Metro Opera’s mission is to provide a stage for rapidly rising American-trained principal artists. DMMO principal artists frequently sing with many of the major opera companies around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berline and the English National Opera.

Des Moines Metro Opera Stage Managers and Assistant Stage Managers are represented by The American Guild of Musical Artists, AFL-CIO, the union that represents Artists in the fields of opera, ballet, modern dance and choral presentations.

We welcomed visitors and patrons from 39 states and Washington, D.C. during the 2023 Season, and approximately 40-45% of our audiences came from outside the Des Moines Metro area. According to Opera America, Des Moines Metro Opera is second in the nation among summer opera festivals in the number of visitors attracted to performances from outside its home state.

Beyond our regular season, Des Moines Metro Opera reaches a year-round audience of nearly 26,000 young people and adults with such programs as the OPERA Iowa Educational Touring Troupe, the Apprentice Artist Program.

Our productions are covered and reviewed by national publications Opera News and Opera Today, and the company has been featured in the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune and The Kansas City Star in recent years.

Des Moines Metro Opera can certainly claim artistic stature among leading American opera companies. The company’s endowment ratio is one of the highest in the opera field, thus ensuring longevity and demonstrating that a decision to invest in DMMO is a sound one.

Each year Des Moines Metro Opera increases the volume of scenery, props and other production items created from locally purchased materials. The company employs substantial numbers of artists and attracts contributors and ticket buyers who patronize Des Moines and Indianola-area shops, restaurants and hotels for the festival season. According to a 2022 economic impact study, Des Moines Metro Opera contributed more than $5 million in labor income and more than $12 million in local sales or output within Polk, Warren and Dallas counties. 

Tickets cost as little as $20, and the entire audience is invited to interact and socialize with artists following our performances in a meet-and-greet event that has become a hallmark of the company.