JUNE 28, 2016

"Manon" delivers "all the glamour of Versailles in the early 1700s" -- plus canoodling.     Jules Massenet's French opera repeats in Indianola on July 3, 5, 8 and 16.

dsm review by Michael Morain

When the title character in the Des Moines Metro Opera's new staging of "Manon" sneaks into a church to persuade her long-lost lover to break the clerical vows he took to forget her -- well, you can guess how things will shake out. The poor guy doesn't have a prayer.

Manon's voice swells above the pipe organ. She paws at him through a wrought-iron gate. And though he tries mightily to resist her, clutching a Bible, the scene ends with two bodies canoodling on the sacristy floor.

The affair started on a lark a few years earlier and will end in tragedy a bit later, plunging in emotional tone like a sunny summer day that finishes with a storm. But along the way, the glory of Jules Massenet's 1884 score seems to shine only brighter, illuminated by the radiant talents of California soprano Sydney Mancasola, as Manon, and the Texas tenor Joseph Dennis, as the young Chevalier des Grieux. They sang so persuasively at Saturday's opening at the Blank Performing Arts Center in Indianola that you could almost believe the unbelievable story, which is iffy even by the standards of the "biffo" or BFFO -- a highly technical industry term for the "big fat French operas" of the 19th century. Read the full review
Photos of the early construction in our new home design+build project and homeowner tips for the beginning phases of bidding and building. 
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Executive chef Justin Comer promises light, local fare at the new Goldfinch on Court Ave.

By Wini Moranville

Dos Rios -- Court Avenue's progressive Latin-themed restaurant -- closed for extensive remodeling late last year. It was slated to reopen this spring; however, its parent company, Two Rivers Hospitality Group, recently announced to dsm magazine that they will instead open an entirely new concept in its place.
While Dos Rios was a cosmopolitan kind of spot, the new venue is going native. The restaurant will be called Goldfinch, a nod to Iowa's state bird.
"Goldfinch will offer refined American bistro fare," says spokesperson Liz Adelman. "So many people have moved downtown to live. We're hoping to be the go-to neighborhood restaurant were people will want to eat every night."
Adelman says that while Dos Rios had a rich, dark atmosphere, Goldfinch will go for a lighter palette, complete with whitewashed walls.
Although I'll miss Dos Rios, I'm particularly excited about this new spot because Justin Comer has been name executive chef. Comer most recently served as executive chef at Deerfield, and veteran Des Moines diners will remember his early work. A graduate of the culinary arts program at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, Comer has worked locally at Toscano, Pain Pane, Mosaix, Bistro 43 and Centro.
I remember Comer for being the first local chef that I know of to serve a fried egg on something that wasn't breakfast. Long before egg-topped-everything became de rigeur, Comer served a fabulous classic Salade Lyonnaise (a bacon-studded, egg-topped green salad) -- a dish I've long missed. I can't wait to see what he brings to Goldfinch.
Comer says his cuisine will "focus on lighter, vegetable-driven fare," with the goal of staying as fresh and local as possible.
There is no website, phone number or Facebook page yet. We do know the address, however: 316 Court Ave. The restaurant is expected to open later this summer.

Wini Moranville covers food and dining for dsm. Follow her at All Things Food - DSM Wini Moranville  
Join us in Clive for refreshments and a free magazine of your very own to cherish for days. Good news if you like party balloons: You're welcome to bring some.

Truth is, we'll have a party today after work to unveil the new issue of dsm, whether you can make it or not -- but it sure would be a lot more fun if you could join us. Our host tonight is Willis Lexus, 2121 N.W. 100th St. in Clive. You'll find old friends to greet, new ones to meet, some snacks to eat and refreshing beverages. Of course it's free, unless you decide you need a new Lexus. We'll be there from 5 to 7 p.m., with the unveiling (with a chorus of ooohs and ahhs) and brief comments at 6 p.m.  
Jeff Miguel, left, and saxophone, right.

Just as the last traces of the fairly fabulous Arts Festival are being carted away, we hear the distant strains of new tunes on the horizon. Jazz in July is rolling in with an artistry of its own.

The annual midsummer jazz series is a production of Metro Arts Alliance, which is welcoming several new artists this year:
* The Tanner Taylor Trio: Led by the Iowa-native jazz pianist.
* Jeff Miguel Quartet: With saxophonist Miguel up front.
* Blake Shaw Quintet: Featuring Iowa City bass player Shaw.
* Bryan Shumacker Quartet: Schumacher, his sax and bandmates have developed a local following.

Some new sites have been added, too, including Principal Park, Central Library, DMACC West and Grand View University.

Performances are scheduled hither and yon, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday (because more would just be too good to bear).
Full concert details are at JazzInJuly.org or by calling 515-280-3222.

Final reminder, procrastinators (and you know who you are): Nominations for the 2016 Sages Over 70 awards are due by Friday. The process is easy, and the results are rewarding. Help us identify people over 70 whom you respect for their consistent leadership and contributions to the community. Details and the nomination form are here. Get going!

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