Michael Egel, General and Artistic Director
Michael Egel of Indianola, Iowa, was appointed General and Artistic Director of Des Moines Metro Opera in 2013 and Artistic Director in September of 2010. He previously served the company as the Artistic Administrator/Director of Education from 1999-2010. He joined the Summer Festival staff in 1994 and marks 25 consecutive seasons with the organization in 2018.
Egel’s responsibilities include both artistic direction and overall management—specifically, the areas of strategic planning, opera production, fiscal stewardship and community, donor and board relations. He works closely with the year-round staff in the day-to-day operation of the organization and with the festival production and artistic teams on the creation of the Summer Festival Season. During his tenure, the company launched the 2nd Stages Series, a new performance initiative designed to engage new audiences, promote strategic collaborations, increase revenue and create a platform for innovation by focusing on new works and contemporary subject matter. Partnerships within this initiative have included One Iowa, Transformations Iowa, Camp Dodge, Science Center of Iowa, Greater Des Moines Botancial Garden, Des Moines Art Center and Des Moines Social Club.
Egel is responsible for repertory selection, casting of singers, selecting conductors and stage directors for mainstage productions and oversight of the company’s collaborations with creative and design teams for new productions - duties he has held since the 2010 season. During the summer festival season, he coordinates the activities of more than 240 company members. A focus on new productions and expanding the repertory have been hallmarks of his tenure. In 2012 he launched an initiative to present opera titles new to the company and that has since introduced critically acclaimed new productions of Eugene Onegin, Elektra, Dead Man Walking, Le Comte Ory, Jenůfa, Orphèe et Eurydice, A Little Night Music and Billy Budd to Summer Festival Season audiences. This season, Flight and Rusalka will be added to the list.
Egel has also been responsible for a renewing the Company’s relationships with broadcast partners such as Iowa Public Radio and Iowa Public Television. With the latter, three of five broadcasts since 2013 have received Regional Emmy Award nominations, with 2016’s Manon recognized with an Emmy win for Best in Regional Arts and Entertainment Programming.
His education credentials include a Bachelor of Music in Performance and Education from Simpson College and a Master of Music from the University of Memphis. In March 2011 he was named to the Des Moines Business Record “Forty under 40” which serves to identify young leaders making an impact in the Greater Des Moines Area. He was recently selected as a member of the Greater Des Moines Committee, which is comprised of Central Iowa’s highest ranking business leaders, and was named the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the Theta Lambda Chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha at Simpson College. Under his leadership, the company received the 2015 Bravo Greater Des Moines Encore Award for Organizational Excellence. He has served frequently as an adjudicator for the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions and was elected by his peers to serve on the Board of Directors for Opera America, the national service organization for the field of opera.
David Neely, Music Director and Principal Conductor
In 2012 Opera News wrote, “The happy news of David Neely’s appointment as Des Moines Metro Opera’s first-ever music director portends some exciting operatic growth at Des Moines in years to come.” Since then, Neely has continued to elevate the company’s musical profile with acclaimed performances of a wide range of repertoire. Recent conducting highlights include Elektra, Peter Grimes, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, La Fanciulla del West, Falstaff, Jenůfa, Manon, and Soldier Songs with DMMO, Dialogues of the Carmelites with Sarasota Opera, and Florencia en el Amazonas with Indiana University Opera Theater.
Equally at home in opera and symphonic repertoire, conductor David Neely maintains an active professional and university teaching schedule. His operatic repertoire encompasses over 70 productions conducted in the United States and abroad. American highlights include over fifteen productions with Des Moines Metro Opera, numerous returns to Sarasota Opera, returns to Indiana University Opera Theatre. Internationally, he has appeared with the opera houses of Bonn, Halle, Dortmund, Saarbrücken, Coburg, Kaiserslautern, and Bielefeld. Symphonic appearances include the Portland Symphony Orchestra, the Eutin Festival Orchestra, Bochum Symphony, Dortmund Philharmonic, the Vorarlberg Symphony, the Kansas Sinfonietta, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music orchestras, the orchestra of the Chicago College for Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra, and the University of Kansas Symphony Orchestra. He has led festival concerts for the International Double Reed Society and the International Clarinet Association. Noted instrumental soloists with whom he has collaborated include Joshua Roman, Bella Hristova, Benjamin Beilman, Rainer Honeck, Nicholas Daniels, Ricardo Morales, Ben Lulich, and Phillippe Cuper.
Starting this fall, Neely will join the faculty of the renowned Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as Visiting Associate Professor for orchestral conducting. Previously, Neely was director of Orchestral Activities at the University of Kansas, where he brought distinction and visibility to the orchestra and orchestral conducting programs, and Music Director of the University of Texas’ Butler Opera Center 2001-2007.
Neely fosters strong community-university relationships. In Lawrence, Kansas, he partnering in or directed engagement activities, including an annual family-oriented Halloween concert and free Kansas Sinfonietta summer concerts. He established a continuing collaboration between the KU Symphony Orchestra and Lawrence Arts Center on annual staged performances of Peter and the Wolf, and partnered with Reach Out Kansas Inc. on free statewide performances for underserved communities. He has also played an active role in Lawrence’s Sister City program, helping to save Eutin, Germany’s six-decade old summer opera festival in 2011. In 2017, he was named Artist/Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Association of Music Clubs.
Neely is a respected vocal coach and collaborative pianist, and recently performed with baritone David Adam Moore in a multi-media performance of Winterreise for DMMO’s 2nd Stages series. Upcoming conducting engagements include Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life, Bernstein’s West Side Story, as well as numerous concerts at the Jacobs School, d’Albert’s Tiefland with Sarasota Opera, and Falstaff with Intermountain Opera.
He holds a B.M. in Piano Performance and an M.M. in Orchestral Conducting from Indiana University, where his teachers were Zadel Skolovky and Leonard Hokanson (piano), and Thomas Baldner and Bryan Balkwill (conducting). He received post-graduate study in orchestral conducting with Gerhard Samuel at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati.