International opera star Simon Estes bids farewell to opera

In July, Des Moines Metro Opera (DMMO) will present the Iowa premiere of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess honoring the international opera star and Iowa native Simon Estes at the announcement of his farewell to the opera.

Estes will appear as the lawyer Frazier, his 103rd and final operatic role in a nearly 60-year career. “It’s only fitting that my last performance on the opera stage will be in my home country and in Des Moines, Iowa,” Estes said. His rich international career has taken him to 84 major opera houses and 115 symphony orchestras around the world. He will continue to perform and teach as a teacher at Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College. He is also collaborating on a feature documentary about his life.

Simon Estes originated the role of Porgy in Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera in February 1985. His final performance will be as Lawyer Frazier in the production of DMMO, a role he dedicates to his friend, the late bassist Arthur Woodley. Estes is also a production advisor for this new production directed by Tazewell Thompson and led by Michael Ellis Ingram.

The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess will open July 1 and offer seven performances through July 24 at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola, Iowa. “We are honored to host Mr. Estes’ operatic farewell for what will also be his first time performing on a professional opera stage in Iowa,” said Michael Egel, General Manager and artistry by Linda Koehn. “Simon is an opera legend and a treasure to our state. His generosity and expertise make our 50e the anniversary season is historic.”

Since its inception in 1935, Porgy and Bess has received critical acclaim and elicited passionate reactions. Featuring some of the most beautiful and beloved songs ever written, the opera shines a light on a chapter in the nation’s past so culturally difficult that its songs and characters are universally cherished. Work inspires conversations that are as passionate and relevant today as ever.

DMMO’s 50 Ticketse anniversary season can be purchased at or by calling 515-961-6221.

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