DES MOINES, Iowa — A legendary career came to a close in Des Moines Sunday night. Iowa native Simon Estes ended his opera career, 40 years after he first sang at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

By that time in 1981, Estes had already achieved worldwide success and as a Black man, broke barriers.

Estes said he has sung in 85 opera houses all around the world, with 115 different orchestras. It’s a historic accomplishment, but what’s even more impressive is how he has been able to keep it all in perspective.

“I’ve sung more opera than probably any singer alive today. Somebody once told me they don’t know anybody that has sung in, this makes 85 opera houses all around the world. One-hundred and 15 different orchestras, all around the world, and over 90 of the world’s greatest conductors,” Estes said.

He credited his small-town upbringing and the lessons learned from his parents for his success.

“My mother, my father taught me humility, and the more success as we call it earthly, the more humbled I’ve always tried to be. I’m from a little town in Centerville, Iowa. And even though I’ve sung for seven presidents, I’ve sung for popes, I’ve sung for Nelson Mandela, Nobel prize committee, I’m still the same, humble man,” said Estes.

Simon Estes, 84, took his final curtain call for the Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of Porgy and Bess.