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Des Moines Metro Opera to stage $1M production of ‘A Thousand Acres’

By Christine Riccelli | Editor, dsm Magazine
Editor’s note: In an exclusive story, the Business Record’s sister publication, dsm Magazine, reports that Des Moines Metro Opera will produce “A Thousand Acres” for its 50th anniversary in 2022. The newly commissioned work promises to draw the company into the international limelight.

About four years ago, as Michael Egel started pondering Des Moines Metro Opera’s 2022 50th anniversary, he knew he wanted to do something challenging and complicated. Something big and bold. Something that would move the company from “participating in the future of opera to helping create it.”

The result? DMMO has commissioned a $1 million production of “A Thousand Acres,” based on the 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley. The opera will premiere July 9, 2022, at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola.

The story is a perfect fit for an opera as it reimagines Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” a tragedy in which the king relinquishes his power and land to two of his three daughters and ends up destitute and insane. In Smiley’s reinterpretation, the setting is rural Iowa in the 1980s, and the story is told from the perspective of the oldest daughter, Ginny.

As an Iowa-based opera company, “we wanted to find a story that felt intrinsic to Iowa and was uniquely ours to tell,” says Egel, who has been DMMO’s artistic and general director since 2013. “But we also wanted a novel that had achieved a profile beyond our borders. While this is an Iowa tale, it’s also a universal one.”

That universality, Egel believes, could draw the interest of opera companies around the world. “Our goal is to contribute something to the wider operatic world, adding our voice to the international repertory by setting a distinctly American and Iowa-based story to music,” he says.

Continue reading at dsmmagazine.com.

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