Elise Quagliata and John Moore share the complex role of Hannah in Des Moines Metro Opera's production of "As One."


By Michael Morain

If you already know that a man and a woman share the same role in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s upcoming production about a transgender woman, you might assume the baritone sings all the stuff at the beginning, and the mezzo-soprano sings everything at the end. In the program, after all, the characters are called Hannah Before and Hannah After.

But it’s not so simple. There’s a lot of “back and forth as she figures out who she is,” the composer, Laura Kaminsky, said in a phone interview from New York.

The idea for “As One,” which will be performed Nov. 17-19 at Stoner Theater, struck her a few years ago when she read an article about a married heterosexual couple in New Jersey, where the husband was in the process of becoming a woman. Since New Jersey didn’t recognize same-sex marriages at the time, the couple worried whether their union would still legally count.

“It made me think: What are you willing to risk to fulfill yourself?” Kaminsky said. “What does that do to you and your relationships? What does that do to your role in society?”

That story, she said, “needed to be toldand it needed to be sung.”

So Kaminsky enlisted help from writers Kimberly Reed and Pulitzer-winner Mark Campbell to shape the libretto, which traces a fictional person’s life over the course of 15 songsfrom a small-town paper route, through sex education class, college, a violent assault and, eventually, a sense of peace.

The show lit up the opera world when it premiered in 2014 and will be staged here with company favorites Elise Quagliata and John Moore under the direction of Kristine McIntyre. A string quartet will accompany the two singers, and video projections will set the scene.

The show is produced in partnership with the nonprofits One Iowa and Transformations Iowa in the run-up to the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Monday, Nov. 20.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17-18 and 2 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Civic Center’s Stoner Theater. Tickets are $40 and are available here.

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By Design Furniture & Interior Design presents dsmDining —
Enjoy French cooking next week when DMACC students and French chefs create the event "Taste of the Loire Valley."


By Wini Moranville

If you’ve not yet been to the new River Center event space, here’s a chance to check it out: On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the center will host Taste of the Loire Valley. River Center and CultureAll, a provider of cultural programming in Central Iowa, are sponsoring the event.

The evening will showcase the work of this year’s visiting chefs from the Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire. For two weeks each year, selected chefs from this association travel to Iowa to teach French cuisine in the Culinary Arts Program at Des Moines Area Community College. The yearly stint is part of an ongoing exchange program that began in 1986.

Tasting stations at the event will feature samples of food and wine from the Loire Valley. The cost of admission is $40 per person, which will help support culinary exchanges with the Association des Cuisiniers de la Loire and CultureAll’s multicultural education programs for K-12 students in Central Iowa.

The event begins with a culinary demonstration at 6:30 p.m.; the tasting runs from 7:15 to 9 p.m. The River Center is at 340 S.W. Third St., 515-330-1517; For tickets, click here.

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Best-selling author, historian and professor Douglas Brinkley will speak in the Knapp Center at Drake University.


Noted author and historian Douglas Brinkley will speak at Drake University this evening (Tuesday, Nov. 14), the latest in Drake’s popular Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series.

Brinkley is a professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker III Institute of Public Policy. He can frequently be seen on television and in popular media as a presidential historian for CNN News; contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Los Angeles Times Book Review and American Heritage magazines; and author of numerous bestselling works of nonfiction.

Brinkley has published nonfiction books on the careers of Dean Acheson, Jimmy Carter, Walter Cronkite, Gerald Ford, Henry Ford, John F. Kennedy, John Kerry, Richard Nixon, Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt. His work explores issues including civil rights, land conservation, D-Day, the Vietnam War and American Catholicism.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Knapp Center, Drake’s arena on Forest Avenue.

A sweet example of the artistry of dollmaker Sierra Cavalier, now artist in residence with Ballet Des Moines.


Artful dollmaker Sierra Cavalier has joined Ballet Des Moines as its winter artist-in-residence, a program now in its second year. Cavalier creates cloth figures in her shop, Luna and Fig. Her work has been sold worldwide through Etsy and is locally available at Five Monkeys Inc.

"It was difficult to choose one artist to work with us," said Laurel Knox, the ballet company's executive director.  "However, Sierra’s dolls felt like the right fit to reflect the magic of the holidays, and 'The Nutcracker' in particular. We felt it was almost as if she was 'The Nutcracker's' toymaker in real life—and believe the whimsy and creativity of her dolls will spark the imagination of both young and old this season.”

"The Nutcracker" will be performed Dec. 8-10 at Hoyt Sherman Place. Click here for more information and tickets.

Peter O'Toole and Omar Sharif brandish some fine theatrical expressions in the 1962 film "Lawrence of Arabia," which had much better music than T.E. Lawrence could ever have heard in the desert.


Lawrence of Arabia's legend lives on. An extensive collection of T.E. Lawrence artifacts is on display through Nov. 19 at Salisbury House. The exhibit "Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Revolt" features items collected by Joseph Berton, author of "T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt: An Illustrated Guided," as well as objects from the Salisbury House permanent collection.

In connection with the exhibit in the Garage gallery, Berton will present a lecture detailing the life and legend of T.E. Lawrence on Nov. 16 at Salisbury House. Doors open at 6:45 pm.; the lecture begins at 7:30 pm. Admission is $10. Tickets are available at or by calling 515-274-1777.

Salisbury House is at 4025 Tonawanda Drive. Admission to the Garage exhibit is free, although donations are encouraged.

More than 3,500 Iowans died in the first World War. Historians want your help in identifying and honoring them.


Dig out and dust off your old family photo albums. The State Historical Society needs your help in creating a photo exhibit to honor Iowa's 3,576 casualties of World War I.

The “World War I Honor Roll” will go on display at the State Historical Museum on Memorial Day weekend 2018 with names and photographs of Iowans who died in the Great War, which America entered 100 years ago.

“This display will help visitors connect names with faces along with recognizing and honoring the sacrifices of so many Iowans,” said Susan Kloewer, the historical society’s administrator.

State archives already include about 2,700 names and images of Iowa service men and women who were killed in action, went missing, or died of disease, wounds or accidents. Through the project, Kloewer said, “we can help families ensure their ancestors are honored and recognized … for generations to come.”

Click here to see the current list of Iowa’s World War I casualties and learn how to contribute to the project.

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