Simon Estes Announces Final Role & Retirement from Opera Stage

By David Salazar

Famed bass-baritone Simon Estes has announced his retirement from the opera stage.

The opera legend has stated that he will give his last performance as part of the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of “Porgy and Bess” where he will appear as Lawyer Frazier. This will mark the 103rd role of his nearly 60-year career. The opera holds particular importance for him as he was part of the 1985 production of “Porgy and Bess” at the Metropolitan Opera, where he took on the title role of Porgy.

Estes is dedicating his interpretation of Lawyer Frazier to his friend and colleague Arthur Woodley. He is also serving as Producing Advisor for the new production, which will be directed by Tazewell Thompson and conducted by Michael Ellis Ingram.

“It is fitting that my final performance on the operatic stage will be in my home state and in Des Moines, Iowa,” Estes said in an official press statement.

The bass-baritone’s career kicked off in 1965 when he made his professional debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Since then, he has appeared with 84 major opera houses and 115 symphony orchestras around the world.

Per the press release, Estes plans to continue to perform concerts and teach as a Professor at Iowa State University and Des Moines Area Community College.

“Porgy and Bess” is set to open on July 1, 2022 and runs for seven performances through July 24.