January 17, 2017
The emotional real-life drama of war fills the music of "Soldier Songs" with power and soulful depth.

When Des Moines Metro Opera's Michael Egel stopped by our office last summer, he was already talking up "Soldier Songs," to be performed Jan. 27-29 at Camp Dodge in Johnston.
His excitement was understandable; since becoming general and artistic director in 2010, Egel has expanded DMMO's repertoire to include cutting-edge contemporary productions, or, as he puts it, the "stories of our time." Some of these shows are part of the company's innovative Second Stages Series. At dsm, we always look forward to hearing what Egel has in the works -- in this case, "Soldier Songs."
Baritone Michael Mayes stars in the multimedia production, which combines elements of opera, theater, rock-infused music and videography. Written by American composer David T. Little, the opera "asks us to examine the real human costs of warfare and the part we all play ... in creating the culture of war and the emotionally devastating cult of the real American hero," explains director Kristine McIntyre. Interviews with veterans of five wars, including members of Little's family, shaped the libretto and the 11 staged songs.
The production begins with the audience and the performer listening to those actual veterans' voices. Then, according to McIntyre, "we see the soldier at three different stages in his life: as a boy playing with plastic soldiers and guns, heavily influenced by media images of heroes and war; as a young adult soldier both thrilled and terrified by the grim reality of modern combat; and finally as the older veteran returned home, struggling to confront his memories and consumed by grief when two Marines come to tell him that his son has been killed in battle."
"Soldier Songs" will be staged in the Freedom Center at Camp Dodge; photo IDs are required to enter the camp. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28, and 2 p.m. Jan. 29. Tickets are $40, available online here or by calling 515-961-6221.

Another Silent Rivers new custom home is in progress! This is our clients' FIRST house and features a two-story open floor plan with a music room and library nook. Floor to ceiling windows take full advantage of the wooded lot! ... 

It's probably just a coincidence that "Song of the Thin Man" was a popular movie in 1947, when artist Alberto Giacometti created this slender fellow: L'homme au doigt (Man Pointing), seen as an expression of his existential view of humanity.

Two interesting new exhibits warrant a visit to the Des Moines Art Center, maybe two visits.

* First, Director Jeff Fleming plumbed the Art Center's permanent collection for "Wild Life," an exhibit of  prints, drawings and sculptures that respond to nature and animals, plus images of humans. Artists include Francis Bacon, the Chapman Brothers, Rudd van Emple, Larry Fink. George Grosz, Rene Magritte and Emile Nolde. The showing continues through April 16 in the John Brady Print Gallery.

* Second, opening this Friday, Jan. 20, is an exhibit of work by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti. His 1947 sculpture L'homme au doigt (Man Pointing), is regarded as a critical work in the Art Center's collection and a seminal expression of the artist's existential view of humanity in post-war Europe. This exhibition features the hauntingly intense figure alongside five of the artist's works on paper, also from the museum's holdings. Two loans from regional collections further enhance this exploration of one the most celebrated artists of the 20th century.This exhibit, in the Blank One Gallery, ends April 23 .
Dan Massoth, Jeff Bruning and Andy Massoth pause to contemplate the good life at El Bait Shop.

Do you have your copy of our January/February issue yet? Subscribers never miss out, of course, but others can pick up our latest issue at one of these locations. We're pleased by the mix of local culture you'll find in the pages of dsm, from bikers protecting kids to top-tier philanthropists committed to improving a local treasure. Then there's style, dining and our other usual good stuff.

In the midst of all that, check out the story of a few guys we're pleased to know: the brothers and buddies behind some of our city's most delightful taverns. From the High Life Lounge to the Royal Mile, each of their crowd-pleasing pubs is built on reverence for a particular style and a passion for beer. Read the online version of the story on our website here, but pick up a copy of the magazine if you can. The stories are at their best with lush photos printed on paper.
"The Normal Heart" traces relations among activists and friends dealing with the rise of HIV-AIDS in 1980s New York City.

Noce, the downtown jazz cabaret, is changing its tune from time to time, adding some theatrical shows to its lineup. "We're excited about expanding our repertoire," says Noce frontman Max Wellman, starting with the drama "The Normal Heart," written by  Larry Kramer. Set in New York City, the play depicts social interactions among activists and their friends reacting to the rising HIV-AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. Performances start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets ($22)  are available online here.
Peter Grady wrote the one-man play in which he portrays Civil War hero, president and author Ulysses S. Grant.

Ulysses S. Grant visits the Franklin Avenue Library at 6:30 this evening, in a one-hour portrayal by Peter J. Grady. Grady also wrote the one-man show -- which has been well received in past performances -- presenting the tenacious Civil War hero and U.S. president in historic detail that includes humor and warmth. In his final battle, the dying Grant fought against time to complete a memoir, hoping its sales would provide for his family. His "Memoirs and Selected Letters" was completed just days before his death at age 63. Apart from his theatrical endeavors, Grady has been an assistant in the Iowa attorney general's office. 


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