Scholar In Residence

Des Moines Metro Opera is thrilled to welcome Dr. Naomi André as our Scholar-in-Residence for the 50th anniversary season.  

André is Professor in Women’s Studies, the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, and the Residential College Arts and Ideas in the Humanities program at the University of Michigan. She received her BA in music from Barnard College and MA and PhD in musicology from Harvard University. She is the author of Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement which has quickly become a leading work in the opera field. She is also author of Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early-Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera and coeditor of Blackness in Opera. 

Dr. André shared her excitement to join DMMO this summer: “In the heartland of the Midwest, this summer in Iowa we have the opportunity to explore different worlds that encompass the heat of Charleston's Catfish Row, the clash of race in John Singer Sargent's representation of America's northeastern elite, and the inner family drama of Jane Smiley's Pulitzer Prize winning novel set on an Iowa farm. Woven between two works are Shakespearean worlds in Britten's setting of A Midsummer Night's Dream and a thinly veiled King Lear in Kuster and Campbell's collaboration in A Thousand Acres,” André said. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to experience such a sophisticated, lyrical, and carefully curated summer opera festival where the drama, music, and atmosphere present a welcoming environment for experienced and newer audiences who are looking for classics, innovation, and provocative ideas.”  

During her residency she will create and participate in a series of podcasts and previews for DMMO patrons as well as a series of public events focused on her research on opera and issues surrounding gender, voice, and race. The residency is made possible through a Humanities Project Grant with funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and administered by the Iowa Arts Council and Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.


Scholar-in-Residence Events

Then and Now: Porgy and Bess in 2022 

June 2, 2022; 7pm; Turner Jazz Center, Drake University 

Dr. Naomi André will lead a conversation along with company members from DMMO’s upcoming production as they share their perspectives on the celebrated opera. The panelists will discuss topics central to why Porgy and Bess has been a challenging opera since it first opened in 1935–including cultural representation, and the marginalization of Black communities. In addition, the panel will provide perspective about the role of Porgy and Bess today, and how it might assist the opera community in its efforts to make the artform more inclusive. Selections from the opera will be performed. RSVP for this event here.

Creators in Conversation (Acres Unearthed) 

July 9, 2022; 1:30pm; Sheslow Auditorium, Drake University 

Only hours before the world premiere of DMMO’s A Thousand Acres, Dr. Naomi André will moderate a panel discussion between Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley and members of the opera’s creative team to reflect on the musical and dramatic setting of the novel. RSVP for this event here.

Singing Black Stories: A Concert of Selected Works 

July 16, 2022; 2pm; Franklin Jr. High  

In a specially curated performance, Dr. Naomi André and members of the DMMO Apprentice Artist Program come together for a lecture and performance of selected works by Black composers including Terence Blanchard, William Grant Still, Shawn Okpebholo, Nkeiru Okoye. Selections presented represent works of historic importance, contemporary compositions and personal significance for the performing artists. RSVP for this event here.

American Apollo 

July 20, 21, 23, 2022; Des Moines Art Center 

Dr. Naomi André will participate in a talkback with members of the opera’s creative team and Dr. Nathaniel Silver, curator at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in anticipation of American Apollo’s 2024 debut as a full-length opera. Tickets for American Apollo are available HERE.