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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release January 15, 2010

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Historical Building hosts Des Moines Metro Opera this week

Opera about George Washington Carver Jan. 23

(DES MOINES) – OPERA Iowa, Des Moines Metro Opera’s educational touring troupe, will offer two public performances of an opera about George Washington Carver this month at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

“A Dream Fulfilled: The Saga of George Washington Carver,” will be at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, 2010, at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door or reserved in advance by contacting Maureen Korte at 515-281-4132. In addition, free docent tours of museum exhibits for groups of 20 or fewer will be offered at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Iowans to enjoy great opera while learning about one of our significant historical figures,” Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “I encourage parents to bring their children to see this production and share the experience together.”

Composed by Iowa’s own Dr. Michael Patterson, “A Dream Fulfilled” made its world premiere last year at the State Historical Museum and enjoyed an eight-week tour of the state. The production was created in cooperation with the State Historical Society of Iowa, which provided research assistance.

The 50-minute opera delves into the life of the agricultural pioneer and Iowa hero, focusing on the key events that would shape the destiny of this great scientist. It begins in Winterset where Carver learns he will attend Simpson College and transitions to Iowa State University where he did groundbreaking work in botany. The opera culminates in the United States Capitol with his testimony before Congress.

“Des Moines Metro Opera is pleased to continue presentations of this new work which celebrates one of the great figures in our state’s history,” said Robert Montana, DMMO’s Managing Director. “Just as exciting is the opportunity to showcase the work of an accomplished composer like Dr. Patterson, and to strengthen our partnership with the state’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which along with the Iowa Arts Council, provides critical financial and logistical support to so many of the cultural organizations that make Iowa an attractive place to live, work and play.”

In addition, DMMO and DCA created a partnership to offer week-long residencies for the OPERA Iowa troupe at the State Historical Museum where students will participate in interactive workshops that connect them to Iowa history, interpret the museum and teach more about Carver and other famous Iowans.

OPERA Iowa will also give performances at the Historical Museum for Golden Circle-area school children and travel the length and breadth of the state with its award-winning combination of education and entertainment.

The opera’s composer, Dr. Michael Patterson, is a graduate of Simpson College and holds post-graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Oklahoma. Patterson has worked with DMMO for more than 30 years.

Currently an Associate Professor of Music Education at Simpson College, he also has been an instructor and accompanist for the Simpson College Orpheus Festival and Elderhostel. He founded and administrates the Music Education Workshop series at Simpson, which for nine years has featured nationally recognized clinicians in workshops each semester.

Patterson has composed numerous songs for solo voice and piano, choral works and an opera, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” which toured with OPERA Iowa in 2003 and 2004.

OPERA Iowa’s 24th season, January 25-April 9, 2010, will delight audiences across the state with performances of Patterson’s “A Dream Fulfilled: The Saga of George Washington Carver,” Humperdinck’s “Hansel & Gretel” for elementary and middle school students and Rossini’s comedy “The Barber of Seville” for older students and evening audiences. The OPERA Iowa troupe will present a final dress rehearsal performance of “Hansel & Gretel” for the public at Hoyt Sherman Place Theatre on Jan. 24, 2010.

During their residencies in schools, the troupe members present interactive workshops that fulfill the National Standards for Arts in Education requirements, helping students learn more and enjoy the opera performance more. OPERA Iowa has previously presented the world premieres of three operas: Stephen Paulus’ “Rumpelstiltskin,” Amy Tate Williams’ “Harmoonia” and Michael Patterson’s “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”

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Des Moines Metro Opera, OPERA Iowa’s parent company, will present its 38th Festival Season June 25-July 18, 2010, at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola. Featured will be Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Verdi's Macbeth and Floyd's Susannah. More information is available at www.desmoinesmetroopera.org.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.

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