Indianola, IA — Des Moines Metro Opera’s Linda Koehn General and Artistic Director, Michael Egel, has announced updated casting and an additional performance for the company’s 2024 Festival Season. The season runs June 28 through July 21 and includes four mainstage productions—Gioachino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Richard Strauss’s Salome, Claude Debussy’s Pelléas & Mélisande, and the world premiere of Damien Geter and Lila Palmer’s American Apollo

“Des Moines Metro Opera has earned a reputation for ‘shrewd programming’ in curating fascinating combinations of works. For summer 2024, we’ve assembled an expanded, four-opera season in which a world premiere complements a fresh take on a classic comedy to bookend the programming. In between are two new productions of towering 20thcentury masterworks by Debussy and Strauss, which originally premiered just three years apart and blew the door open to a new musical century in very different ways. It will be a rare opportunity to experience both in back-to-back repertory performances,” said Egel. “All four of these operas in repertory create a compelling and rewarding weekend of opera that will entice first-time audiences and intrigue the many cultural tourists who visit our company from around the globe. To be honest, it’s one of my favorite seasons we’ve ever put together, and audiences are responding as well. DMMO saw record tickets sales in 2022, which were topped in 2023. Sales in 2024 are already ahead of those records, and we expect performances to be sold out soon.” 

Additional American Apollo Performance
Due to strong early ticket sales, Des Moines Metro Opera has announced an additional performance of Damien Geter and Lila Palmer’s world premiere opera, American Apollo, for the 2024 Festival Season calendar. The added performance will occur on Friday, July 19 at 1pm at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, Iowa.

Tickets for the July 13, July 18 and July 19 performances of American Apollo are available at or by calling the Box Office at (515) 209-3257.

2024 Casting Update
The 2024 season features several prominent artist debuts on the mainstage, including baritone Justin Austin, tenor William Burden and soprano Mary Dunleavy in the roles of Thomas Eugene McKeller, John Singer Sargent and Isabella Stewart Gardner, respectively, in American Apollo; tenor Duke Kim as Count Almaviva, bass-baritone Ashraf Sewailam as Bartolo and bass-baritone Vartan Gabrielian as Basilio in The Barber of Seville; bass-baritone Brandon Cedel as Golaud in Pelléas & Mélisande; and tenor Chad Shelton as Herod Antipas in Salome. Derrick Inouye makes his company debut as conductor for Pelléas & Mélisande. Lindy Hume, Shaun Patrick Tubbs and Nathan Troup make their debuts as stage director for The Barber of Seville, American Apollo and Salome, respectively.

Notable returning artists include baritone John Moore in a role debut as Pelléas, soprano Sydney Mancasola as Mélisande, bass Matt Boehler as Arkel and mezzo-soprano Catherine Martin as Geneviève in Pelléas & Mélisande; soprano Sara Gartland in a role debut as Salome, baritone Norman Garrett as Jochanaan and longtime company favorite, mezzo-soprano Gwendolyn Jones returns to reprise the role of Herodias in Salome, which she sang with DMMO in 2002; baritone Alexander Birch Elliott as Figaro and mezzo-soprano Sun-Ly Pierce in a role debut as Rosina in The Barber of Seville. DMMO’s Marshall and Judy Flapan Music Director and Principal Conductor David Neely leads the productions of Salome and American Apollo. Gary Thor Wedow returns to conduct The Barber of Seville, and Chas Rader-Shieber returns to direct his seventh DMMO production, Pelléas & Mélisande. The season also features 35 members of the Frank R. Brownell III Apprentice Artist Program, now in its 50th year, led by the Irene Graether Chorus Director and Director of the Apprentice Artist Program, Lisa Hasson.

All four productions will be performed in rotating repertory in the intimate 467-seat Pote Theatre at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, Iowa. Each opera features English supertitles projected above the stage. The Des Moines Metro Opera Festival Orchestra, made up of professional musicians from across the country, will perform in all four productions.

Subscription packages and individual tickets are available now. Full production and ticket information is available by visiting or by calling the Box Office at (515) 209-3257.

The Lauridsen Family Foundation is the presenting sponsor of the 2024 Festival Season. The world premiere of American Apollo is made possible by leadership support from the Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey Charitable Foundation.

Additional production information:  

* denotes mainstage debut
† denotes former DMMO Apprentice Artist
‡ denotes current DMMO Apprentice Artist

Music by Gioachino Rossini
Libretto by Cesare Sterbini
Premiered: February 20, 1816, at the Teatro Argentina, Rome
Six performances: June 28, 30, July 5, 14, 16, 20
Performed in Italian with projected English translations
A co-production of Opera Queensland, New Zealand Opera and Seattle Opera
Previous DMMO productions: 1976, 1988, 1999, 2009

Conductor: Gary Thor Wedow
Stage Director: Lindy Hume *
Associate Director & Choreographer: Daniel Pelzig *
Production Design: Tracy Grant Lord *
Lighting Design: Matthew Marshall *
Wig and Makeup Design: Brittany V.A. Rappise
Chorus Director: Lisa Hasson

Figaro: Alexander Birch Elliott †
Count Almaviva: Duke Kim †*
Rosina: Sun-Ly Pierce
Bartolo: Ashraf Sewailam *
Basilio: Vartan Gabrielian *
Berta: Abigail Rethwisch †*
Ambrogio: Marc Kenison *
Fiorello: Michael Pandolfo ‡
Officer: Korin Thomas-Smith ‡*

Get ready for a rollicking fiesta of sunny Seville madness as Rossini’s celebrated, razor-sharp comedy returns to our stage in riotous technicolor. Featuring some of opera’s most familiar and show-stopping tunes, The Barber of Seville is a must-see treat for the eyes and ears!

Music by Richard Strauss
Libretto by Hedwig Lachmann after Oscar Wilde
Premiered: December 9, 1905, at the Semperoper Dresden
Four performances: June 29, July 7, 13, 19
Performed in German with projected English translations
A new Des Moines Metro Opera production
Previous DMMO production: 2002

Conductor: David Neely
Stage Director: Nathan Troup *
Scenic Design: Steven C. Kemp
Costume Design: Jacob A. Climer
Lighting Design: Connie Yun
Wig and Makeup Design: Brittany V.A. Rappise

Salome: Sara Gartland †
Jochanaan: Norman Garrett
Herod Antipas: Chad Shelton *
Herodias: Gwendolyn Jones
Narraboth: Alex McKissick †
First Soldier: Alan Williams ‡
Second Soldier: Sergio Martínez ‡*
Page: Audrey Welsh ‡*
First Jew: Will Upham ‡*
Second Jew: Michael Deshield ‡*
Third Jew: Shawn Roth ‡*
Fourth Jew: Sam Krausz ‡*
Fifth Jew: Matthew Soibelman ‡*
First Nazarene: Daniel Rich ‡*
Second Nazarene: Zachary Taylor ‡*
A Slave: Gabrielle Turgeon ‡*
A Cappadocian: Robert Frazier ‡*

Based on Oscar Wilde’s sensational play, Richard Strauss’s Salome took the world by storm at its premiere with princess Salome at its center, whose growing obsession with the imprisoned prophet John the Baptist leads the story to its dramatic conclusion. Featuring music that is both colossal and dazzling, this new production will leave you on the edge of your seat.


Music by Claude Debussy
Libretto by Claude Debussy adapted from the play by Maurice Maeterlinck
Premiered: April 30, 1902, at the Théâtre de l'Opéra-Comique, Paris
Four performances: July 6, 12, 17, 21
Performed in French with projected English translations
A new Des Moines Metro Opera production
Company premiere

Conductor: Derrick Inouye *
Stage Director: Chas Rader-Shieber
Scenic Design: Andrew Boyce
Costume Design: Jacob A. Climer
Lighting Design: Connie Yun
Wig and Makeup Design: Brittany V.A. Rappise
Chorus Director: Lisa Hasson

Pelléas: John Moore †
Mélisande: Sydney Mancasola
Golaud: Brandon Cedel *
Arkel: Matt Boehler †
Geneviève: Catherine Martin
Physician: Alan Williams ‡

Claude Debussy’s only completed opera shimmers with Impressionist color like a Monet painting, and its mesmerizing score dazzles. This exquisitely nuanced and rarely performed work casts a hypnotic spell, capturing a world of dreams where forbidden love blossoms.

Music by Damien Geter
Libretto by Lila Palmer
Dramaturg: Kate Pitt
Performed in English with projected English supertitles
A world premiere and new Des Moines Metro Opera production
Three performances: July 13, 18, 19

Conductor: David Neely
Stage Director: Shaun Patrick Tubbs *
Scenic Design: Steven C. Kemp
Costume Design: Danielle Preston *
Lighting Design: Bridget S. Williams
Wig and Makeup Design: Brittany V.A. Rappise

Thomas Eugene McKeller: Justin Austin *
John Singer Sargent: William Burden *
Isabella Stewart Gardner: Mary Dunleavy *
Ida Mae McDonald: Tesia Kwarteng *
Nicola d’Inverno: Alex McKissick †
Florence McKeller/Mrs. Smithson: Kendra Faith Beasley ‡*
Willie McDonald: Daniel Rich ‡*
Clarence/Master of Ceremonies: Shyheim Selvan Hinnant ‡*
George: Isaiah Traylor ‡*
Walter: Antonio Domino ‡*
Jimmy O’Donnelly/Mr. Carhart: Robert Frazier ‡*
Mr. Sparhawk: Hayden Smith ‡* 

American Apollo gives voice to a pivotal figure in American art: Thomas Eugene McKeller, a Black hotel worker who served as a model and muse for famous portraitist John Singer Sargent. Themes of erasure, the white gaze and the nature of the relationship between the two men are explored in this powerful new work, which makes its full-length world premiere in 2024.


Media Kit
High-resolution and web-ready imagery, headshots, theatre production photos and logos can be found in: DMMO 2024 Season Press Dropbox

For press tickets, please contact Scott Arens, director of marketing and public relations, at or 515-209-3255. 

About Des Moines Metro Opera

Lauded by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most enterprising summer opera fests in the nation,” Des Moines Metro Opera is a progressive opera company located in the heart of Iowa that has taken its place among America’s leading opera festivals. Founded in 1973, it’s one of the largest performing arts organizations in Iowa, annually producing over 100 performances in the metro area and across the region.

Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2024 Festival Season runs June 28–July 21 and includes the return of one of the world’s greatest operatic comedies, Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, a new production of R. Strauss’ Salome, a company premiere and new production of Debussy’s Pelléas & Mélisande, and the world premiere of the full-length version of Damien Geter and Lila Palmer’s American Apollo.

About American Apollo

American Apollo is a new opera with music by Damien Geter and libretto by Lila Palmer that features a recently uncovered story forged at the crossroads of race, celebrity, class and power in America, examining the personal and professional relationship between John Singer Sargent, the most famous portraitist of his time, and Black veteran, hotel worker and model, Thomas Eugene McKeller.

The story is inspired by the January 2017 discovery of a file of previously unknown, signed sketches by John Singer Sargent depicting a Black male, left to his best friend, the patron Isabella Stewart Gardner. Further investigation revealed the model to be Thomas McKeller, the model for many of Sargent’s master works in the final decade of his career and the subject of his only non-commissioned monumental male nude. Thanks to the actions of Sargent’s estate, sketches of McKeller, some still unidentified, exist in fine art museums across the U.S. and internationally, serving as a still-evolving public legacy for a model erased and previously forgotten.

The creative team bringing this world premiere to life includes Damien Geter (composer), Lila Palmer (librettist), Kate Pitt (dramaturg), David Neely (conductor) and Shaun Patrick Tubbs (director). The cast features baritone Justin Austin (Thomas Eugene McKeller), tenor William Burden (John Singer Sargent) in a company debut, soprano Mary Dunleavy (Isabella Stewart Gardner), mezzo-soprano Tesia Kwarteng (Ida Mae McDonald), and tenor Alex McKissick (Nicola d’Inverno). Steven C. Kemp (scenic design), Danielle Preston (costume design), Bridget S. Williams (lighting design) and Brittany V.A. Rappise (wig and makeup design) round out the creative team.

For more information about American Apollo, visit or call the Box Office at (515) 209-3257.

Media Resources for American Apollo
American Apollo Info Sheet
The Genesis of American Apollo by Joshua Borths
Composer’s Notes by Damien Geter