The spirited and ambitious Berkshire Opera Festival opens its 2022 summer season with a compelling new production of Jake Heggie‘s intimate THREE DECEMBERS on July 21 and 23 at PS21 in Chatham, NY, conducted by Christopher James Ray and directed by Beth Greenberg. This contemporary American opera is based on Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally’s original script for Some Christmas Letters. It marks BOF’s 2nd Second Stage event, following Tom Cipullo’s highly praised Glory Denied last summer.

BOF is thrilled to partner for the first time with PS21, a state-of-the-art green-energy theater which has evolved into the Hudson Valley’s mecca for innovative programming. Jesse Green in The New York Times describes PS21’s newly built theater as a “beautiful, reconfigurable indoor-outdoor space that appears to have landed like an exotic bird in the midst of a 100-acre former apple orchard.”

THREE DECEMBERS tells the story of aging Broadway star Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children, Beatrice and Charlie. The drama takes place over 20 years of the AIDS crisis (1986, 1996, 2006), each section recalling the events of a December as the characters struggle to connect and heal old wounds when family secrets are revealed.

Stage Director Beth Greenbergrenowned for her work with New York City Opera, says of the opera: “Buried secrets…dark whispers…love, 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 with Houston Grand Opera, THREE DECEMBERS was greeted by wide critical acclaim. Opera Today declared: “Three Decembers is a modern masterpiece…Heggie’s voice remains his own—closer here to Broadway than the Met. It is music that speaks to the heart; it provokes feeling and demands emotional reaction.”

L to R: Adriana Zabala, Monica Dewey, Theo Hoffman

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 Ariadneauf Naxos and 2020 premiere of Steven Mark Kohn’s The Trial of Susan B. Anthony. Of her performance in AriadneThe 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. Monica Dewey, the versatile soprano, LGBTQ+ advocate, and lively performer of the Metropolitan Opera, 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.

AT A GLANCE

Berkshire Opera Festival and PS21/Performance Spaces for the 21st Century present
THREE DECEMBERS
Thursday, July 21, 7:30pm
Saturday, July 23, 1pm
PS21 open-air Pavilion Theater, 2980 NY-66, Chatham, NY.
This production contains adult language. Sung in English.
Approximate running time: 90 minutes (no intermission).
Tickets are available online from $20 – $60 through the PS21 website

Music by Jake Heggie
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Based on an original play by Terrence McNally
Commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera in 2008

CAST
Mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala – Madeline Mitchell
Soprano Monica Dewey – Beatrice
Baritone Theo Hoffman – Charlie

CREATIVE TEAM
Conductor Christopher James Ray
Stage Director Beth Greenberg
Scenic Designer Janie E. Howland
Costume Designer Brooke Stanton
Lighting Designer Alex Jainchill
Hair & Make-up Designer Beckie Kravetz
Musical Preparation Noah Palmer
English Diction Coach Lynn Baker
Production Stage Manager Cindy Knight

And featuring the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra


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

Next for Berkshire Opera Festival
DON GIOVANNI August 20, 23, 26
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA

Conductor Brian Garman and director Jonathon Loy
put their spin on Mozart’s celebrated 1787 tragicomedyBass-Baritone André Courville – Don Giovanni
Bass Christian Zaremba – Leporello
Soprano Laura Wilde – Donna Anna
Tenor Joshua Blue – Don Ottavio
Mezzo-soprano Megan Moore – Donna Elvira
Bass-Baritone John Cheek – Commendatore
Soprano Natalia Santaliz – Zerlina 
Baritone Brian James Myer – MasettoTICKETS
HIGH ON THE RAMPARTSA Spotlight on Music of Black Composers
Wednesday, August 10, 2022, 7:30pm
Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA

Soprano Kearstin Piper Brown and tenor Joshua Blue perform 
works by trailblazing Black composers spanning two centuries.
August 10 at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA
(BOF’s annual free concert)

TICKETS

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