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Legendary performer Simon Estes ends nearly 60-year operatic career

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

The Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess will be Simon Estes’ final opera before he retires at age 84.

International opera star Simon Estes is giving his final operatic performance in the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of “Porgy and Bess,” a show in which he starred in 1985 at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. The production premiered to a sold-out crowd last week. Host Charity Nebbe asks Estes to reflect on his decades on the stage, which have included performances with Johnny Cash and Whitney Houston.

Later in the hour, an excerpt of the IPR podcast From the Archives. This week's episode focuses on a speech at Grinnell College in 1968, in which California U.S. Rep. James Corman presents findings from the Kerner Commission. Corman spoke during a memorial symposium honoring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The Kerner Commission report found that racism, economic disadvantages, failed social service programs, police brutality and more led to intolerable conditions in Black neighborhoods that erupted in violence across the country.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The DMMO pays to support IPR content


  • Simon Estes, opera singer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Dani Gehr is a producer for River to River and Talk of Iowa. Dani came to Iowa from her hometown in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to attend Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism, international studies and French. Before coming to IPR, Dani covered local government in Story County for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register.
Natalie Dunlap is a rising junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and minoring in gender, women's & sexuality studies. She is from Iowa City and in her free time enjoys getting coffee and reading downtown with friends.