• Presented in partnership with One Iowa and Transformations Iowa; both organizations will facilitate talk-back sessions immediately following each performance
  • Baritone (and Milford, IA native) John Moore and mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata share the role of Hannah, the sole transgender protagonist in this tale of discovery, understanding and acceptance
  • Performances to take place on November 17, 18 and 19 in the days leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday, November 20

Indianola, IA — Des Moines Metro Opera opens its 46th Season on November 17 with As One, a one-act chamber opera for two voices and string quartet with music by Laura Kaminsky and libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed. As part of Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2nd Stages Series, an initiative committed to creating collaborative performances designed to engage audiences in creative spaces, As One will be produced in partnership with One Iowa and Transformations Iowa with performances at the Stoner Theater on November 17 and 18 at 7:30pm and on November 19 at 2:00pm.

Each performance will include a talk-back session, facilitated by One Iowa and Transformations Iowa, featuring reflections from LGBTQ Iowans and members of the cast and creative team. “We’re thrilled that Des Moines Metro Opera has included an opera featuring a transgender protagonist in their repertoire this season,” One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. “Representation of LGBTQ characters in all forms of media is crucial because it allows LGBTQ people to see themselves reflected in meaningful narratives and internalizes the fact that their stories matter. It also provides an opportunity for those outside the LGBTQ community to connect with and understand the life experiences of LGBTQ people. We’re excited to work with Des Moines Metro Opera and Transformations Iowa to ensure the impact of these performances reaches far beyond the theater seats.”

Members of the local transgender community will be involved both before and after the performances. "Transformations Iowa is looking forward to Des Moines Metro Opera's performance of As One,” Transformations Iowa President Sophia Stone said. “We've been working with DMMO and One Iowa to help spread awareness of transgender issues and the stories of trans Iowans. As the trans community faces attacks from all directions, we hope everyone will come out to support us not only at As One but at the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th, a day on which we honor all those who have been killed by transphobia." A free performance on Thursday, November 16 will be offered to LGBTQ youth and members of the trans community.

Created in 2014 by American composer Laura Kaminsky and co-librettists Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, As One tells the story of a transgender woman named Hannah. Over the course of 15 songs, the audience will experience Hannah’s youthful challenges growing up in a small town, her struggles with family, her discovery of a larger LGBTQ community and her inspiring journey of becoming true to herself. Based in part by the life experience of award-winning filmmaker Kimberly Reed and her film “Prodigal Sons”, As One’s rich libretto, evocative melodies and lush harmonies make it a heartfelt and truly unforgettable work. “As One has become the most often produced new opera in America today with more than a dozen performances since its premiere in 2014 and many more scheduled this season alone. Its creators use humor, empathy and wit to convey the arc of a transgender life, and the quality and depth of the musical storytelling instantly make the work a very relatable, human story for everyone,” said Michael Egel, DMMO’s General and Artistic Director. “We are pleased to present the work’s Midwestern premiere and to work in partnership with One Iowa and Transformations Iowa. This production will continue our efforts to demonstrate opera’s power to address and build empathy around important and contemporary themes.”

Sharing the role of Hannah are baritone John Moore, who was last seen at DMMO as the title character in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin in 2012, and mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, who recently sang the roles of Charlotte Malcom in A Little Night Music and María in María de Buenos Aires during the Company’s 2017 Summer Festival. As One will be directed by Kristine McIntyre, who most recently directed DMMO’s Billy Budd in 2017, and will be conducted by Michael Sakir, who conducted the Company’s 2nd Stages production of Galileo Galilei at the Science Center in 2016. Adam Crinson, who has designed the sets for María de Buenos Aires, Soldier Songs and Galileo Galilei, will serve as the scenic designer for the production. The Polymnia Quartet, a professional string quartet based out of New Orleans, will accompany the production.

Tickets for As One are $40 and can be purchased online at desmoinesmetroopera.org or by calling the DMMO box office at 515-961-6221. As with all 2nd Stages Series performances in alternative venues, seating capacity is limited. The opera will be performed in English. The composer and librettists, Laura Kaminsky, Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, will be featured in a to-be-announced special event and will also be attending the opening night performance. Des Moines Metro Opera will host a free screening of Kimberly Reed’s film “Prodigal Sons” at the Fleur Cinema and Café on Sunday, November 12

If you would like more information about this event, please contact Scott Arens at 515-961-6221 or sarens@dmmo.org.

For additional information about One Iowa, please visit oneiowa.org or call 515-288-4019.

For additional information about Transformations Iowa, please visit facebook.com/transformationsiowa.


John Moore, Hannah before

A frequent performer in both Europe and the United States, John Moore is garnering praise for his energetic performances and burnished baritone in both operatic and concert repertoire. A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Program, the 2016-2017 season sees the baritone in the world premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves with Opera Philadelphia, singing the role of Jan. He also sings performances of Jan with the Prototype Festival, returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Moralès in CarmenSeattle Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and to the Hyogo Performing Arts Center as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. In concert, he joins the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, singing Vaughan Williams and Weber, and sings semi-staged performances of Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Santa Cruz Symphony. Future seasons include returns to the Glyndebourne Festival and Seattle Opera.

Last season saw several significant company debuts for the baritone including: Seattle Opera, as Count Almavivia in Le nozze di Figaro; the Bayerische Staatsoper, as Adario in Les indes galantesFlorida Grand Opera, as Tadeusz in The PassengerPortland Opera, as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Opera Omaha, as Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia. On the concert stage, he appears at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of NY, under the direction of Kent Tritle, and also the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society.

The 2014-2015 season saw John Moore return to the Metropolitan Opera stage as Moralès in Carmen, as well as Nachtigal in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, and he appeared with their annual Opera in the Parks summer concert series. Additionally, he debuted at the Atlanta Opera as the Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and covered the role of Tadeusz in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of The Passenger.

During the 2013-2014 season, Mr. Moore appeared as Papageno in The Magic Flute and as Fléville in Andrea Chénier with the Metropolitan Opera, Donald in Billy Budd with Glyndebourne at BAM, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at Hyogo Performing Arts Center, Japan. He also toured Russia with members of the Metropolitan Opera.

In the 2012-2013 season, the baritone returned to the Metropolitan Opera as Curio in Giulio Cesare and Simonetto in Francesca di Rimini, and also returned to the role of Donald in Billy Budd with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera.

Mr. Moore’s 2011-12 season featured a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Yamadori in Madama Butterfly, and Donald in Billy Budd. He was the baritone soloist in the American premiere of Juraj Filas’s Oratorio Spei with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola under the baton of Kent Tritle. In addition to his recital with Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Mr. Moore also gave recitals at his alma mater, Simpson College, and at People’s Symphony Concerts in NY. In the summer, he returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera in a role debut as the titular character in Tchaikovksy’s Eugene Onegin. Mr. Moore concluded the season as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro with Glyndebourne Opera’s touring ensemble in the United Kingdom.

In the 2010-2011 season, Mr. Moore appeared as Papageno in the Metropolitan Opera’s English production of The Magic Flute, toured with Musicians from Marlboro, performed in recital with the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music, and returned to the Des Moines Metro Opera as Dr. Malatesta in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale. In addition, Mr. Moore took part in a studio recording of Peter Lieberson’s The Coming of Light with CCM.

During the 2009-10 season John premiered Lieberson’s The Coming of Light with Chicago Chamber Musicians, sang Abbé Lorenzo in a new production of Argento’s Casanova’s Homecoming at Minnesota Opera, sang Fiorello at the Met, appeared in concert at the Lakes Art Center in Okoboji, Iowa and for the Des Moines Opera Guild, and made his debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in England singing Donald in Britten’s Billy Budd. In 2007, he made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera singing Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Mr. Moore made his international debut at Welsh National Opera in 2008 singing Figaro in WNO’s acclaimed English Barber of Seville.

Elise Quagliata, Hannah after

ELISE QUAGLIATA, mezzo-soprano, has gained notice over the past decade for the rich, unique beauty of her voice, her musical intelligence, her theatrical range and her riveting effect on audiences everywhere.

Having made a name for herself in contemporary as well as in traditional works, Elise recently stunned audiences with her heart-rending performance of Sister Helen in Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking with Des Moines Metro Opera. Opera News cited her "passionate interpretation" and "exceptional technical finesse". In the same role with Union Avenue Opera, the Saint Louis Dispatch remarked that with her "dark, expressive voice" the artist gave the role an "authentic strength and humor," while the final confession scene was performed with "throat-grabbing" intensity. She was also praised by The New York Times for her "rich, expressive voice and passionate delivery" of Mr. Heggie's song cycle on Sister Helen's prayers, The Deepest Desire, performed in Los Angeles and New York with the composer at the piano and flutist Carol Wincenc. She once again performed with Heggie in his newest cycle, The Breaking Waves, as part of a special concert of the composer's works for Opera America in New York City.

Elise's busy schedule this past season included a North American and European tour of Carmen in Carmen with New York City Opera Renaissance, Carmen in Carmen with Opera on the James, reprised her role as Joan Clarke in Chen's The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing with American Lyric Theater, and the Brahms Alto Rhapsody with the Idaho Civic Symphony. She has recently performed Olga in Eugene Onegin for Des Moines Metro Opera, Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre for Union Avenue Opera, Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd for Pensacola Opera, Emilia in Otello with the Jacksonville Symphony, and recitals in New York and Pennsylvania. In the spring of 2013 she repeated her success as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking withThe Modern American Music Project and was called "vibrant" by The New York Times in Justine Chen's The Turing Project with the InsightALT Festival in New York City. In the summer of 2013 she sang the Verdi Requiem with Orquestra Filarmônica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

She appeared as Jo in Mark Adamo's Little Women with Pensacola Opera, described as "a vocal tour de force of amazing power, beauty, and dexterity." Other new works have included Sheila Silver's 2010 opera The Wooden Sword, where she debuted the lead role of Anya, and Peter Ash's The Golden Ticket of 2009 with American Lyric Theater, where she sang the role of Candy Mallow. In 2008, Elise sang Cornelia with a "graceful presence" and "a rich mezzo voice" (The Miami Herald) in Handel's Guilio Cesare with Florida Grand Opera, and Carmen in La Tragedie de Carmen with Opera Omaha. Her 2006 performance of Carmen with Pensacola Opera captivated critics and audiences alike, with reviewers describing her as "one of the finest Carmens I have ever seen" (Mobile Register), "simply riveting" (Pensacola News Journal) and ready to "spontaneously combust; the girl is on fire" (The Independent News). Her "striking, bold tone, superb diction and excellent acting" was also noted in her performance of the Muse/Nicklausse in Les contes d'Hoffmann for Des Moines Metro Opera (Des Moines Register).

In previous seasons, Elise has sung Suzuki in Madama Butterfly with Pensacola Opera, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with The National Philharmonic, Washington DC and Rockland Opera, as well as Bertha in Barbiere with Pensacola Opera. Other roles have included Dorabella in Così Fan Tutte, Arsamenes in Xerxes, Lisak in The Cunning Little Vixen, Thisbe in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly, Rosine in Signor Deluso and Cecily in La Divina.

Elise Quagliata's solo orchestral credits include Prokofiev's cantata Alexander Nevsky with the Jacksonville Symphony; Mozart's Requiemwith the New River Valley Symphony; Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius with the Savannah Philharmonic; Mahler's Rückert Lieder with Reno Philharmonic; the New York premiere and recording of Henry Cowell's Atlantis with the American Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall; Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Reno Philharmonic and Westfield Symphony; Verdi's Requiem with the Westfield Symphony, Brahms' Alto Rhapsody and Mozart's Solemn Vespers with the Buffalo Philharmonic; Montsalvatge's Cinco Canciones Negras with the Pensacola Symphony; DeFalla's El Amor Brujo with the New Hampshire Symphony and DeFalla's Sombrero Tres Picos with the Virginia Symphony.

An impressive recitalist, the artist has performed recitals in Miami, New York and Pensacola (where she welcomed the King and Queen of Spain with DeFalla and Obradors), on university recital series in Illinois, Connecticut and Florida, as well as in concert venues in Switzerland and Italy. Adept in a variety of repertoire from contemporary to early music to jazz and cabaret, Elise has been especially lauded for her exceptional performances of American, Czech, German and Spanish works, and praised for the "glorious grace" which has characterized her interpretation of standards from Cole Porter to Kurt Weill.

Kristine McIntyre, director

Stage director Kristine McIntyre has directed more than 70 operas across the U.S. with a focus on new, contemporary and American works. Productions include Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (Des Moines Metro Opera, Madison Opera), Jonathan Dove’s Flight (Pittsburgh Opera, Austin Lyric Opera), the world premier of Kirke Mechem’s John Brown (Lyric Opera of Kansas City), Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair (Lyric Opera of Kansas City) and Three Decembers (Des Moines Metro Opera), Robert Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry (Tulsa Opera), Carlisle Floyd’s Of Mice and Men (Utah Opera, Austin Opera, Tulsa Opera), new productions of Street Scene, The Tender Land and Lee Hoiby's Bon Appétit and the world premier of The Canticle of the Black Madonna (Newmark Theater, Portland).

Other recent opera directing credits include Billy Budd, Soldier Songs, Manon, Jenůfa, Peter Grimes, Eugene Onegin and La Bohème (Des Moines Metro Opera), Otello, La Cenerentola, Tosca, Le nozze di Figaro, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and La clemenza di Tito (Pittsburgh Opera), The Pearl Fishers (Utah Opera), Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly (Arizona Opera), Don Giovanni, Cosi fan tutte, Norma, and The Turn of the Screw (Lyric Opera of Kansas City), Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria, Lucia di Lammermoor and La traviata (Portland Opera), The Tales of Hoffmann, Un Ballo in Maschera and Cosi fan tutte (Madison Opera), Don Giovanni, Cavalleria Rusticana/I Pagliacci, Carmen and Werther (Kentucky Opera), La Bohème (New Orleans Opera), Don Giovanni and Rigoletto (Tulsa Opera), Lucia di Lammermoor (Anchorage Opera), Tancredi (Opera Boston), and Verdi’s Un giorno di regno (Wolftrap Opera). Upcoming projects include a new production of Manon (Des Moines Metro Opera), The Tales of Hoffmann (Madison Opera), Madama Butterfly (Kentucky Opera), the world premiere of Louis Karchin’s Jane Eyre at the Center for Contemporary Opera in New York, a revival of her film-noir Don Giovanni (Utah Opera), and the exciting new production of Jake Heggie’s Moby Dick designed by Erhard Rom.

Michael Sakir, conductor

Praised for his “artistic authority,” “fluidity of expression,” and “great delicacy of feeling," Michael Sakir takes on the role of music director of Opera Memphis in the 2017-18 season. In this capacity, he will conduct Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri and Alessandro Scarlatti's Baroque comedy The Triumph of Honor. This season, he also returns to Des Moines Metro Opera as conductor for As One, Mark Campbell, Kimberly Reed, and Laura Kaminsky's opera about a trans-woman's emotional journey. He will also be a participant in OPERA America's 2017 Leadership Intensive.

In the 2016-17 season, Sakir made his guest conducting debuts with Intermountain Opera Bozeman in Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment, Opera Company of Middlebury in Puccini's Il trittico, and returned to Opera Orlando for Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Opera Memphis for Jake Heggie's Three Decembers. He also made his debut with Washington National Opera as cover conductor for Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

Other recent guest conducting engagements include Eugene Opera in Benjamin Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Opera Orlando in Mozart’s The Impresario and Poulenc’s Les mamelles de Tirésias, Des Moines Metro Opera in Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei,  Northwestern University for Dead Man Walking, American Opera Projects for As One, Opera in the Ozarks for Rossini's La Cenerentola, and Opera North (NH) for Aaron Copland's The Tender Land

Sakir has held chorus master, assistant conductor, and coach positions for nearly three dozen productions with Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Sarasota Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, and Opera Boston. 

Sakir holds bachelor degrees in Piano Performance and Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a graduate degree in Orchestral Conducting from The Boston Conservatory. He is a native of Northern California.