Jake Heggie / Gene Scheer
Conductor / Cris Frisco
Set & Video Projections / Yee Eun Nam
Costumes / Staci Bell
Lighting / Emily Clarkson
Cast / Cabiria Jacobsen, Erin Brittain, Jacob Scharfman
Photography / Staci Bell, Emily Clarkson, Yee Eun Nam
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
THREE DECEMBERS is about the stories we weave about ourselves and the extent to which we need them to move through our lives – and the extent to which they imprison us.
The opera premiered in 2008 as a coproduction between Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera under the working title, LAST ACTS. The role of Madeline Mitchell was performed by Frederica von Stade, for whom composer Jake Heggie conceived the role. Its libretto is loosely based on Terrence McNally’s unpublished play SOME CHRISTMAS LETTERS (AND A COUPLE OF PHONE CALLS), which was performed as a staged reading at an AIDS benefit in 1999. Librettist Gene Scheer more tangibly drew inspiration from THE WILD DUCK, Henrik Ibsen’s 1884 play about the lie of the mind that sustains family’s fragile illusion of itself.
The production examines the fragility of relationships and the tenuousness of the narratives that bind us together. The visual world of the opera is an expressive extension of the characters’ interior worlds, rather than a literal representation of their surroundings. Its visual vocabulary juxtaposes brokenness and healing: fragmented spaces and split-screens become vibrant shared spaces – that later drain of their color to become empty shells of what they were. Maddy, Charlie and Bea become the architects of the worlds in which they live, which crumble and rebuild along with the narratives they each construct about themselves.
In exploring the possibilities and limitations of compassion, the story of THREE DECEMBERS is ever timely. Its characters impel us to question whether we can truly rebuild that which is broken, or whether we can fully liberate ourselves from the fictions we weave.