dsmWeekly: September 21, 2021
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September 21, 2021  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Singers interact with hand-drawn animated figures and scenery in a new projection-based production of "The Magic Flute," which Des Moines Metro Opera will perform in Des Moines March 5-6 to launch its 50th anniversary season.
Photo: Iko Freese


Writer: Christine Riccelli

Mark your 2022 calendar now, in ink, for Des Moines Metro Opera’s dynamic 50th anniversary season. Led by visionary general and artistic director Michael Egel, DMMO promises to once again exceed expectations, this time with artistic initiatives and a blockbuster lineup that not only will wow audiences but also undoubtedly draw international acclaim to the Indianola-based company.

What’s more, DMMO is kicking off the public phase of a $15 million endowment campaign, with $12.7 million already raised from the silent phase. Egel attributes the campaign’s impressive success so far to the fact that the pandemic has highlighted the need for arts organizations to be sustainable in the long term, as well as to the loyalty DMMO has built among its patrons and supporters over the past 50 years.

DMMO will launch the 50th anniversary celebration in Des Moines March 5-6 with a family-friendly, technicolor production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the Civic Center. Accompanied by the Des Moines Symphony, the new production merges opera and animation, with silent film-style projections that interact with the singers. “The animation unfurls around the performers,” Egel told dsm, noting that Des Moines is the first market of its size to land the production. (It’s being performed in such cities as Chicago and Montreal.) “It brings a technological experience into a live storytelling format.”

The ambitious 50th anniversary season will continue with the Summer Festival July 1-24 at Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola:
  • George and Ira Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess,” which Egel calls “the greatest American opera of all time,” will have its Iowa premiere July 1. Des Moines-based global superstar Simon Estes—who has performed in “Porgy and Bess” on four continents—will serve as the show’s producing adviser and will also sing the role of the lawyer Frazier. “We wanted to celebrate Simon’s career in a way that honors him,” Egel says, adding that next year marks the 40th anniversary of Estes’ historic debut at the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Benjamin Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” based on Shakespeare’s popular comedy, will open July 2 and star John Holiday, a renowned countertenor who previously performed with DMMO, and soprano Sydney Mancasola.
  • The world premiere of “A Thousand Acres,” a new $1 million production DMMO commissioned, will debut July 9. Based on the 1991 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jane Smiley, the work reimagines Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” with the setting in rural Iowa in the 1980s. Read more about the groundbreaking commission in this dsm story.

For its 2nd Stages Series, DMMO will present the new opera “American Apollo,” which explores the untold story of the personal relationship between famous portraitist John Singer Sargent and the artist’s Black model and muse, Thomas Eugene McKeller. Presented in collaboration with the Des Moines Art Center and Pyramid Theatre Company, the show will be performed July 20-23 at the Art Center.

Tickets for “The Magic Flute” go on sale Oct. 1; for the Summer Festival, tickets will be available starting in early 2022.
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Fresh strawberries and citrus Chantilly cream top the Liège waffles at RC’s Diner, one of our can't-miss picks.


Writer: Karla Walsh

Whether you have time just for a pit stop or want to make a day of it, there’s a breakfast boom happening in Central Iowa. Here are restaurants we recommend checking out.

Early Bird (9250 University Ave., Suite 107, West Des Moines): With pages of sweet and savory options including cinnamon roll pancakes, biscuits and gravy-inspired pot pie, and avocado toast with whipped ricotta and poached eggs, it would take dozens of visits to make your way through the menu. Classics like egg white omelets and fluffy French toast as well as over-the-top creations like bloody mary cocktails garnished with a chicken sandwich (yes, this exists!) mean there’s something for every diet and craving.

Creperie Viva La Crepe (9250 University Ave., Unit 113, West Des Moines): Enjoy a taste of Paris in the heart of West Des Moines at this family-friendly cafe. Showcasing an expansive mix of sweet and savory toppings, the crepes steal the show (although coffee, soups and salads are also available). For a lighter option, try one filled with fruit jam or sauteed veggies and feta. If you’ve got a larger appetite, try the quesadilla-esque steak or pork al pastor crêpeadillas.

Read the rest of our picks in in this story from the September/October issue.
Pianist Awadagin Pratt will make a guest appearance during the Des Moines Symphony's concert this weekend.
Photo: Des Moines Symphony  


The Des Moines Symphony's 2021-22 season will begin this weekend with concerts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday — their first in-person shows at the Des Moines Civic Center since early 2020.

The symphony will perform Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as well as John Corigliano’s "Promenade Overture" and Florence Price’s "Piano Concerto in One Movement," featuring an appearance from celebrated pianist Awadagin Pratt.

If you want to celebrate before the show, attend the symphony's opening night ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with live music from symphony musicians, drinks and food at the Savory Hotel's courtyard downtown. Tickets start at $125. The organization will also announce its "Sounds of the City" capital campaign.

Tickets for the weekend concerts start at $15. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is  required for admission. All audience members must wear masks as well. Find more information on the 2021-22 schedule here.
Spacious new townhomes and apartments put you in the heart of Des Moines’ iconic Beaverdale neighborhood, less than a block from locally-owned shopping, dining and services... Read more »
Greg and Ruthie Jackson and their two children, Everett, 6, and Emmelie, 8.


Writer: Candace Ord Manroe

Ruthie Jackson says she regards the Georgian-style home she shares with her husband, Greg, and their two children as “one big art project. I’m always experimenting.”

Jackson, a certified interior decorator, loves her design calling and brims with confidence. That’s why a tight budget couldn’t cramp her style when the family moved four years ago from their beloved Waterbury cottage into the roomier 1935 house located South of Grand.

“I’m a big Phase 1 fan for long-term renovations,” she says. “I’d rather have the whole house feel cheery, clean and safe than have one or two perfectly finished rooms.”

Read the rest of the story and see interior photos from our September/October issue.
Tony Bohnenkamp and his five-piece cover band will play from 3:15 to 6 p.m. at the Raccoon River Rally on Oct. 2.
Photo: Tony Bohnenkamp


Hang out by the river and enjoy music, food and entertainment in the first-ever Raccoon River Rally from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 2 at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines. There will also be a bike ride starting at 11 a.m., with both 3.2-mile and 11-mile trail loops.

The Dick Danger Band will take the main stage at noon, followed by the Tony Bohnenkamp Band at 3:15 p.m. Food vendors include Big Boy's Mobile Kitchen, Big Momma's Bistro and Culinary Nomad, among others. Bozz Prints, which was featured last year in dsm, will be on hand selling works as well. For domestic and craft brews, head to the Kinship Brewing tent.

Admission is free. Find the schedule and more vendor information here.
Nikole Hannah-Jones will release two books on Nov. 16: "The 1619 Project: Born on the Water," a children's picture book, and "The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story." Photo: Des Moines Public Library Foundation


The Des Moines Library Foundation announced Waterloo native Nikole Hannah-Jones as its 2021 Iowa Author of the Year. Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for developing the 1619 Project, a long-form journalism project picked up by the New York Times focusing on the history of slavery and contributions of Black Americans in the United States.

The foundation will host a conversation with Hannah-Jones on Nov. 21 at the Embassy Suites downtown (101 E. Locust St.). The VIP reception starts at 5 p.m., with registration and a silent auction following at 5:30 p.m. The dinner and program kick off at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $125. Find more information here.
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