Thursday March 30, 2017 3:46 am


YOUR GATEWAY TO OPERA AND CLASSICAL MUSIC
FANFAIRE celebrates JAKE HEGGIE
A WHALE OF A COMPOSER!

THREE DECEMBERS

3Dec-header

Two of America’s best-loved musical artists were reunited in a poignant new chamber opera, THREE DECEMBERS, based on a play by famed playwright TERRENCE MCNALLY entitled Some Christmas Letters that explores over three decades the loving but often strained relationship between a famous actress and her two adult children, a daughter and a son who is gay and whose partner is dying of AIDS.

The three-character opera, which had its West Coast premiere at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on December 11, 12, and 14 (2008) featured the celebrated mezzo-soprano FREDERICA VON STADE (for whom the opera was written) as the famous actress Madeline (Maddy) Mitchell, with soprano KRISTIN CLAYTON, and baritone KEITH PHARES in his San Francisco Opera debut as her children Bea and Charlie, respectively.

Frequent Heggie collaborator GENE SCHEER wrote the libretto; Houston Grand Opera Music Director PATRICK SUMMERS conducted a unique 10-piece ensemble that included two pianists: conductor SUMMERS and composer HEGGIE himself and, unlike usual operatic practice, shared the stage with the characters. Below is a slide show of scenes from the 40-minute chamber opera.

Share Button
Von Stade was in good voice AND dazzlingly compelling in this glamor role of a seemingly uncaring, if not cruel, self-absorbed showbiz mom–very likely because it is a role she could easily empathize with, having been confronted with the same balancing-act issues herself as she was raising two daughters on her way to a stellar career. But there the similarity ends. As everyone who knows her will tell you, the above adjectives do not in least bit describe FLICKA, as Von Stade is called by friends and fans. She is a big-hearted human being of whom Heggie has said “Flicka makes the world a better place just by being there.”

Clayton and Phares were also convincing vocally and dramatically as the grown, relatively ordinary Mitchell children suffering through emotionally complex personal identity problems as they re-lived memories of their troubled young lives through Maddy’s Christmas letters of three past Decembers (in 1986, 1996, and 2006).

And the music? Unmistakably modern and contemporary as the subject of the opera, but very accessible in true Heggie style even to the untutored ear. Accessible is a musical trait Heggie does not shun. Yes, the listener hears occasional dissonances but soon realizes that these are his way of communicating inner conflicts seeking resolution as the opera unfolds, and becomes as comfortable with these as with the moments of tenderly sweeping lyricism. Listen to the music clips, and you’ll understand what we mean and why Heggie is a master of musical theatre.

LISTEN TO CD HIGHLIGHTS:

[table style="1"]
PROLOGUE
PRELUDE
BEA & CHARLIE
REMINISCING
FORGIVENESS
THINKING ABOUT BURT
SINGING A MOON SONG
ON AWARDS NIGHT
FINAL SCENE
[/table]

BUY THE CD
DOWNLOAD MP3

Share Button
 

Watch a video of "Jake Heggie on Jake Heggie; excerpted from FanFaire Foundation's "Writing Opera Today - A Music Appreciation Event" 
ARTISTS
MUSICPLANNER
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed