New York, NY – Iowa native and Bass-Baritone Simon Estes and Des Moines Philanthropist Linda Koehn will be among those honored as leaders in opera as part of OPERA America Salutes; an event honoring industry pioneers and the field’s most accomplished leaders on October 21, 2022.

Estes will be inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Opera Hall of Fame recognizing the achievements of outstanding living Americans and Canadians who have strengthened the art form and the field.

In July 2022, Estes appeared in the role of Lawyer Frazier in Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, his 103rd and final role on the operatic stage. His storied international career brought him to 84 major opera houses and 115 symphony orchestras around the world over the span of 60 years, including the premiere of the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera in February 1985. He will enter the Hall of Fame alongside Soprano Grace Bumbry, who premiered the role of Bess in the same production.

Koehn will be recognized as a National Opera Trustee, an award honoring trustees from professional opera companies for their exemplary leadership and service. She was nominated for the award for her dedicated service on the Des Moines Metro Opera board of directors and longstanding support of professional opera in Iowa.

“Simon and Linda are not only treasures to Des Moines Metro Opera, our city and our state, but also to our industry,” said Des Moines Metro Opera General and Artistic Director Michael Egel. “We thank them for their contributions and are proud to honor them with these national recognitions.”

Hosted by Grammy Award-winning Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves, OPERA America Salutes will be hosted on Friday October 21, 2022, at The University Club of New York. After being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will honor award recipients from 2020, 2021, and 2022.

“OPERA America is thrilled to gather once again to celebrate some of the most influential members of the North American opera community,” said OPERA America President and CEO Marc A. Scorca. “These artists, administrators, trustees, and advocates have shaped the landscape of opera that we enjoy today. We have been waiting through the pandemic to give them their moment in the spotlight, and the time is finally here for what will surely be an unforgettable evening.” 

For a full listing of OPERA America Salutes honorees, click here.

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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 2023 Festival Season includes the return of one of the world’s greatest operas, George Bizet’s Carmen, a new production of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, a new production of Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges, a new production of Kander/Gumbel’s dwb (driving while black), and a new production of Redler/Dye’s The Falling and the Rising.


Scott Arens, Director of Marketing and Public Relations | (515) 209-3255