Friday, January 01, 2021

Three Decembers

Composer --  Jake Heggie
Librettist --  Gene Scheer from play by Terrence McNally
Conductor -- Christopher James Ray
Director -- Tara Branham

Madeline Mitchell, theater icon -- Susan Graham
Beatrice, Madeline's daughter -- Maya Kherani
Charlie, Madeline's son --  Efraín Solís

Heggie's Three Decembers premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in 2008. This performance streams from the San Jose Opera.  The singers are accompanied by two grand pianos.  The pianists wear masks and were separated by a sheet of plastic.

Christmas 1986

This part is just for people who have walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and then down into Sausalito.  As I have.  With son Chris.  We took the ferry back to the City.  This is Madeline's memory of their father on Christmas when he was still alive.  All three are on the same stage singing, but each is in a different place.  Mom has written a letter and kids are discussing it on the phone.  Mom is going to star in a Broadway musical.  Mom sends greetings to Charlie's gay lover, calling him Curt instead of Burt.  Burt has AIDS.  

Mom and daughter fight in a dressing room somewhere.  Then Charlie and Bea walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and complain about how cold it is.

This opera is socially distanced.  Each of the three characters has their own part of the stage, and they talk on the phone. 


Burt has died.  Charlie is boxing up his stuff.  Mom sings him a lovely lullaby when he lays down to sleep.  Mom is taking Bea to the Tonys with her.  She expects to win.  The children sing about shoes as they prepare to accompany their mother to the Tonys.  When she finally arrives, they fight and Mom reveals that their dead sainted father was a drunk and jumped in front of the subway.  The children storm off, leaving her to go to the Tonys alone.


Mom dies in her sleep, and everyone talks about her.  She appears to talk about herself.  She praises life, art, music and theater, all things that I love, too.  Susan Graham is in her element.

It streams to the end of January from San Jose Opera.

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