top of page
David Neely-34.jpg

Click to read the latest in Washington Classical Review:

"Neely brings fresh fire and polish to Apollo Orchestra"


A Thousand Acres, Des Moines Metro Opera
"The musical direction could not have been in better hands. David Neely not only imbued the whole evening with seeming spontaneity and inevitability but corralled all his forces into an awesome unity of purpose. Maestro Neely communicated an infectious sense of discovery that made the sounds leap from the page, and I eagerly awaited every new effect and turn of phrase. The accomplished musicians that form the DMMO orchestra rewarded him (and us) with sterling results." -Opera Today


"DMMO Music Director David Neely led a performance of ineffable grace and propulsion."-Opera News

"David Neely was the effective conductor" -Wall Street Journal

American Apollo, Des Moines Metro Opera"

Conductor David Neely is a champion of new work, and he made an excellent case for the future of American Apollo, leading a small, gifted orchestra with obvious care and enthusiasm.-Opera Today


Queen of Spades, Des Moines Metro Opera

" exquisite traversal from conductor David Neely, who captured the score's sweeping lyricism and delicate transparencies to perfection." -Opera News

"In the pit, David Neely elicited such a vibrant, sensitive, idiomatic reading from his players, it seemed the palpable joy of making live music again was oozing from every phrase. The evocative passage of surging, churning muted strings that led to Act II’s second scene was alone worth the price of admission. Maestro Neely’s masterful connection with his panoply of singers resulted in music-making of the first magnitude." -Opera Today

Wozzeck, Des Moines Metro Opera

"David Neely was a ninja warrior with a baton. Neely and his orchestra conquered Berg's difficult score with a meticulously crafted reading that perceptively illuminated this music's considerable lyricism as well as its still-shocking brutality. Details such as the repeated underscoring of the phrase "Wir arme Leut" which weaves throughout the piece, emerged with dazzling clarity. This was musicianship of the highest order."

-Opera News

"All of this superlative singing and powerful emoting was exquisitely buoyed by the miraculous sounds emanating from the pit. David Neely, always admirable, has simply never conducted better as he elicited musically vibrant, dramatically potent, and vividly colorful performances from his amassed forces, a rendition of a caliber you seldom hear at even the most celebrated world festivals."

-Opera Today

Candide, Des Moines Metro Opera

"Having conducted a wrenching Wozzeck the night before, David Neely seemed to find a perfect way to cleanse the pallet as he led an effervescent reading of Candide. From the downbeat of the thrice-familiar overture to the stirring choral finish, Maestro Neely steered his accomplished forces with infectious relish."

-Opera Today

DMMO 2018 season

"The extraordinary refinement of DMMO's orchestral performances under music director David Neely has been one of the great pleasures of recent seasons. Neely's evocation of the disparate sound worlds in the Dvorak and Dove was nothing short of spectacular."

-Opera News

Rusalka (Des Moines Metro Opera)

"Let me get straight to the point: This is the Rusalka I have been waiting for all my life. Des Moines Metro Opera has mounted a stunner of a production, splendidly sung, passionately played, and inventively staged. Dare I say, definitive? Never before have I been as entertained or as moved by Dvorak’s masterpiece as on this occasion...David Neely conducted an incandescent reading of this challenging score. Brooding and agitated one moment, lushly layered the next, ethereal and transcendent the following, Maestro Neely handled the work’s complexities and shifts with his usual commendable dexterity. All night long he elicited nigh unto virtuoso playing from his talented band, all the while partnering effortlessly with the singers to create a memorable piece of lyric theatre."

-Opera Today

Flight  (Des Moines Metro Opera)

"Music Director David Neely exerted consummate control over his amassed forces, conducting a reading of sweeping power and jaw-dropping precision. DMMO’s fine orchestra has had a banner year, and they distinguished themselves yet again with a crackling reading of Dove’s richly layered, rhythmically propulsive opus. Maestro Neely inspired nuanced playing from each and every instrumentalist, whether in solo or ensemble passages, and melded them fortuitously with the singers, creating a musico-dramatic work of sensational impact."

-Opera Today

West Side Story (IU Opera Theatre)

"Savvy conductor David Neely knows how to train an orchestra and spares no energy preparing for whatever musical project he undertakes. He’s certainly done so again. The maestro and his pit musicians served the Bernstein score brilliantly, from the abrasive to the movingly lyrical, from violence-in-sound to young, endangered romance. He also spared no attention on the casts, keeping them sharp and on cue."

-Peter Jacobi, Bloomington Herald-Times

Tiefland (Sarasota Opera)

All this was supported and buoyed up by the excellent orchestra and conducting of David Neely, who led the piece as if he had known it forever. Singing, staging and orchestra were beautifully nuanced through every emotion of the composer’s score.

-Longboat Observer

"Maestro David Neely led a spirited orchestral performance of the symphonically rich score. It was the task of Neely, who is music director of the Des Moines Metro Opera, to advise the cast members on how to approach d’Albert’s musical style and to make numerous musical decisions about how each group of instruments should sound. Neely’s efforts led to an outstanding experience."

-Opera War Horses



Billy Budd (Des Moines Metro Opera)

"It is hard to know where to begin to praise the peerless accomplishment that is Des Moines Metro Opera’s staggeringly powerful Billy the pit, David Neely conducted a brilliant, insightful performance of Britten’s masterpiece. Make that “Monster Piece.” Billy Budd is scored for a virtuoso orchestra, and the DMMO musicians rallied to meet every challenge. Maestro Neely, his cast and band have delivered unto us as great a musico-dramatic achievement as is possible."

-James Sohre, Opera Today

"World-class opera grows tall and proud in the Corn Belt...Neely's firmly paced conducting provided a rock-solid foundation for the superior singing and acting of a large all-male ensemble"

-John Von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

Turandot (Des Moines Metro Opera)

"...If the no-holds-barred singing and rhapsodic playing didn’t send shivers down your spine, well, you were at the wrong address...

Music Director David Neely conducted his amassed forces with a loving, knowing baton. DMMO populates its pit with highly accomplished professional musicians from throughout the region (and beyond) and their incisive playing is second to none. The orchestra was a compelling partner in the musical drama, and they rose to meet every challenge.

-James Sohre, Opera Today

Indiana University Concert Orchestra (Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6)

"Concert Orchestra Stuns Audience--Sunday's performance was fresh, like welcoming back a good friend and celebrating its reacquaintance...The Concert Orchestra's reading, with Maestro Neely at the helm, was compelling and gorgeous, really top-notch. A stunned and long silence followed its conclusion and then an outburst of grateful audience reaction, much deserved."

-Peter Jacobi, Bloomington Herald-Times

Falstaff  (Des Moines Metro Opera)

"Arguably the greatest asset of the performance was David Neely’s sure handed, fleet-footed, scherzo-like approach to the master’s final stage work. Maestro Neely drew extraordinary playing from his instrumentalists, and they reveled in every sparkling orchestral effect. Not to imply there was anything frivolous about his approach, for Mr. Neely also finds weightiness when required, lending even more pomposity to Va, vecchio John, more gravity to Ford’s tortured aria, and more sheen and shimmer to Nanetta’s forest arietta. Has that famous orchestral trill ever had more sparkle and fizz, that closing fugue more impetus and insouciance? Thanks, Maestro, for buoying our spirits and ravishing our ears."

-James Sohre, Opera Today

"Verdi’s score is famously treacherous with its precisely calibrated entrances and quicksilver melodic interchanges; kudos are due to conductor David Neely for exceptional musicianship in keeping matters faithfully on point within DMMO’s unique multi-area playing space."

-Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News

"David Neely, DMMO’s musical director and principal conductor, marshaled the ensemble cast and the DMMO orchestra through Verdi’s intricate and virtuosic score with aplomb. The concluding fugal ensemble “All the world’s a hoax” was a triumph of unanimity."

-Bruce Carr, Des Moines Register

Elektra (Des Moines Metro Opera):


“Conductor David Neely shaped the piece superbly and elicited virtuosic playing from his excellent instrumentalists. This was a reading fully invested with the psychological import, musical colors, and emotional content that mark the greatest performances.  Maestro Neely carefully balanced this towering achievement in the pit with his sensational cast of vocalists.”

-Opera Today

“Conductor David Neely led a thrilling account of Strauss's own reduced score for sixty-eight players. This Elektra was a brave endeavor, and one that paid off beautifully.”

-Opera News

Don Giovanni (Des Moines Metro Opera)

Opera News, October 2012 print edition

“David Neely led a thrilling account of the score…This was possibly the most satisfying Giovanni I have encountered on the regional opera scene in the U.S….and the happy news of David Neely’s appointment as DMMO’s first- ever music director portends some exciting operatic growth at Des Moines in years to come.

-Opera News

bottom of page