Des Moines Metro Opera to World Premiere Kristin Kuster & Marc Campbell’s ‘A Thousand Acres’

By David Salazar

Des Moines Metro Opera has announced that it will world premiere “A Thousand Acres,” an opera by composer Kristin Kuster and librettist Mark Campbell.

The opera will be premiered on July 9, 2022, and will be made possible thanks to a $1.5 million gift from Linda and Tom Koehn.

“We are honored to represent the breadth of support for Des Moines Metro Opera on the occasion of its 50-year anniversary. For us, it is a celebration of the many people for whom storytelling through opera in Iowa is a deeply personal commitment,” said Linda Koen in an official press release.

The opera is based on the 1991 Pulitzer-Prize winning novel by Jane Smiley about an old farmer who decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. Chaos breaks out amongst the family. The novel, which is a modernized retelling of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” was previously adapted into a film by Jocelyn Moorhouse.

“As this seminal novel approaches its 30th anniversary later this year, the occasion is right to bring the words of a major American novelist to life on the opera stage,” said Michael Egel, General and Artistic Director, in a press release. “The choice of ‘A Thousand Acres’ for an opera company in Iowa is the perfect melding of subject and locale and an ideal one for us in celebration of our 50th Anniversary. The novel is perfectly placed in history to receive an operatic treatment – modern enough that we know these characters and their stories but just distant enough to provide some perspective and lend the story a universality that will make it an enduring contribution to the American repertory.”