Berkshire Opera Festival

Three Decembers by Jake Heggie

By: - Mar 08, 2022

Berkshire Opera Festival mounts a new production of THREE DECEMBERS by Jake Heggie as its Second Stage production this year. BOF to partner with PS21, a state-of-the-art green-energy theater in Chatham, NY, which since completing its new theater has evolved into the Hudson Valley's mecca for innovative programming by leading and emerging artists in contemporary music. It will be staged July 21 & 23 at PS21 in Chatham, NY

The one act THREE DECEMBERS takes a deep look at the meaning of connection in the contemporary American family through the story of Broadway star Madeline Mitchell and her children. Stage Director Beth Greenberg, renowned for her work at the New York City Opera, says of the opera: “Buried secrets...dark, and devastating loss...all collide and burst forth in Three Decembers. With its skillful balance of drama and èlan, the work probes the fraught relationships between a successful actress-mother and her two children—a daughter coping with a failing marriage, and her young, gay son at the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic.”

After its premiere in 2008, THREE DECEMBERS was greeted by wide critical acclaim. Opera News declared: "Three Decembers is a modern masterpiece…Heggie’s voice remains his own—closer here to Broadway than the Met. That, however, is of little concern. It is music that speaks to the heart; it provokes feeling and demands emotional reaction."

Starring in the lead role of Madeline Mitchell is mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, who has been hailed by the Los Angeles Times as "an extraordinary, vibrant mezzo." Zabala returns to Berkshire Opera Festival after stunning performances in the 2017 production of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos and 2020 premiere of Steven Mark Kohn's The Trial of Susan B. Anthony. Of her performance in Ariadne, The Berkshire Record wrote: "Mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala took the difficult first act role of The Composer and made it her own. Singing with vivacious expression, her voice has a refined quality, so easy on the ear. A great performance, met by wild applause.” Two exciting singers make their Berkshire Opera Festival debuts, opposite Zabala. The versatile soprano, LGBTQ+ advocate, and lively performer of the Metropolitan Opera Monica Dewey plays the unhappily married alcoholic daughter Beatrice. In an interview with Opera News, F. Paul Driscoll states, "Monica Dewey’s conversation is exactly like her singing—cool, clear, brimming with intelligence and charged with humor.” Baritone Theo Hoffman plays the troubled son Charlie, whose partner is very sick with AIDS. The Los Angeles Times writes: "Hoffman’s strong, warm voice filled the space...This was a performance so visceral, so equally raw and refined, it felt completely fresh."

PS21’s Black Box/ open-air Pavilion configuration is conceived as a home for intimate-scaled productions, and is ideal for this iteration of THREE DECEMBERS. BOF and PS21 are aligned in their values of supporting the future of opera by presenting new and contemporary performances with world-class artists, and making them accessible to everyone in the region.

Berkshire Opera Festival’s production of THREE DECEMBERS is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.