Three Decembers (opera)

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Three Decembers
Opera by Jake Heggie
Librettist Gene Scheer
Based on Some Christmas Letters
by Terrence McNally
Premiere February 29, 2008 (2008-02-29)
Houston Grand Opera

Three Decembers is a chamber opera in two acts by Jake Heggie to a libretto by Gene Scheer which is based on the unpublished play Some Christmas Letters by Terrence McNally. Created with a role for Frederica von Stade, the work premiered on 29 February 2008 at the Houston Grand Opera (HGO). It commissioned the work in association with the San Francisco Opera and Cal Performances.

The opera was first presented under the working title Last Acts at the world premiere by the Houston Grand Opera.[1]


The three parts of the opera are set in the month of December in the years 1986, 1996 and 2006 and it tells the story of a famous actress, Madeline, and her two adult children as they struggle to know and love each other.[2] "It is the universal story about the family we wish for and the family we wind up with."[3]


Role Voice type Premiere cast, 29 February 2008
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Madeline (Maddie),
a famous actress
mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade
Madeline's son
baritone Keith Phares
Beatrice (Bea),
Madeline's daughter
soprano Kristin Clayton
Pianists Patrick Summers
Jake Heggie
Director/Scenic Designer Leonard Foglia
Lighting Designer Brian Nason
Costume design Cesar Galindo


  1. ^ Sigman, Matthew (July 2015). "Composing a Life". Opera News. Retrieved April 28, 2016. 
  2. ^ Sohre, James (March 17, 2008). "Heggie's "Last Acts"". Opera Today. Retrieved April 28, 2016. 
  3. ^ University of Pittsburgh OCC (November 18, 2011). "The Three Decembers". Retrieved April 28, 2016. 

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