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MARCH 2022
Berkshire Opera Festival announces its 2022 season
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BERKSHIRE OPERA FESTIVAL

Brian Garman & Jonathon Loy, Co-Founders • Abigail Rollins, Executive Director

announces 2022 season

The ambitious company brings world-class, fully-staged professional opera
to the Berkshires & Hudson Valley, creating a sensation with
savvy productions, exceptional casts, and a dynamo orchestra.

For this summer's Second Stage show Three Decembers,
BOF launches a partnership with
PS21/Performance Spaces for the 21st Century,
the acclaimed state-of-the-art open-air theater in Chatham, NY
dedicated to innovation and the cutting-edge.

Two masterpieces, one modern and one classic, bookend BOF's season: 

 

THREE DECEMBERS (2008)

Music by Jake Heggie • Libretto by Gene Scheer • Based on a Terrence McNally play
 An intimate, compelling chamber work in one act, 
conducted by Christopher James Ray in a new production by Beth Greenberg.
The story follows a family (a fading Broadway actress and her two adult children)
through 3 decades—1986, 1996, 2006—as they grapple with
AIDS, addiction, dysfunction, and deceit.  
Jump to Cast/Team
July 21 & 23 at PS21 in Chatham, NY


DON GIOVANNI  (1787)

Conductor Brian Garman and director Jonathon Loy put their spin on Mozart’s
celebrated tragicomedy, capturing the downfall of
a "charming" wealthy sexual predator.
(This is a rescheduled Mainstage production from 2020, 
featuring nearly all the originally announced cast.)
Jump to Cast/Team
August 20, 23, 26 at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA


Plus


HIGH ON THE RAMPARTS

A Spotlight on Music of Black Composers 
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 FOR DON GIOVANNI GO ON SALE MARCH 23
TICKETS FOR THREE DECEMBERS GO ON SALE THIS SPRING

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The "innovative, clever and thoroughly professional" (Bachtrack) BERKSHIRE OPERA FESTIVAL announces its 2022 season in Great Barrington and Pittsfield, MA, and for the first time in Chatham, NY. The only company of its kind in the region, BOF produces opera at the highest level under the vision of esteemed co-founders Brian Garman (Artistic Director) and Jonathon Loy (Director of Production). Just a few years after its founding in 2016, Opera News declared "destination status" on the Festival, and Berkshire On Stage wrote "No longer need we confine our opera-going to HD films—now we have the highest quality productions and performers in our own backyard." 

Last summer Berkshire Opera Festival "roared back to indoor performance life" (Opera Magazine) amidst the pandemic with its most robust season to date, pressing ahead with its mission: to bring live fully-staged opera—safely but thrillingly—to the Berkshires. The Boston Globe reported that the company's ambition remained "undimmed" by these difficult times, mounting a major Falstaff with powerhouse international singers, launching its Second Stage (BOF's new vehicle for works that require smaller forces), planning strategically for the future, and growing its board of directors. 

BOF moves full steam ahead in 2022. In a first, PS21—the “beautiful, reconfigurable indoor-outdoor space that appears to have landed like an exotic bird in the midst of a 100-acre former apple orchard" (Jesse Green in The New York Times) in Chatham, NY—joins forces with Berkshire Opera Festival to present a new production of Jake Heggie's intimate Three Decembers on July 21 and 23, 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. The story, which takes place over two decades during the AIDS crisis, follows Broadway star Madeline Mitchell and her adult children as they struggle to connect and heal old wounds while family secrets are revealed. This marks BOF's 2nd Second Stage event, following Tom Cipullo's highly praised Glory Denied last summer.

Next, the Festival heads to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA on August 10 for a free concert that spotlights a wide swath of works by Black composers. Finally, on August 20, 23, and 26, the season culminates with the summer's most ambitious undertaking: a new staging by Jonathon Loy of Mozart's comedy-tragedy masterpiece Don Giovanni at the historic, intimate Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, MA. Brian Garman conducts the Berkshire Opera Festival Orchestra and Chorus. After last season’s Falstaff at the Mahaiwe, Bachtrack raved: "Garman was a wizard with this challenging, everything-happening-at-once work. Verdi's witty and evanescent score rang clear as a bell. The opera flies by on the wind; Maestro Garman kept it aloft.” Don Giovanni, which is often considered to be Mozart's greatest work, tells the story of antihero Giovanni's demise. This production was originally scheduled for the 2020 fifth anniversary season, but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a quick pivot, the cast collaborated on a virtual concert recorded in their homes and studios, which streamed in August 2020. The majority of this original cast returns to present the opera in person this summer.  

THREE DECEMBERS

THREE DECEMBERS

Second Stage
Co-presented by Berkshire Opera Festival and
PS21/Performance Spaces for the 21st Century

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 from $20 - $60 will be made available for purchase
through the PS21 box office later in the spring.


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
 

What if the family narrative that shapes us is a lie?  Three Decembers tells the story of aging Broadway star Madeline Mitchell and her two adult children as they struggle to connect and heal old wounds while family secrets are revealed.  This intimate, compelling drama takes place over two decades during the AIDS crisis, and has been hailed by critics as a modern masterpiece.


Berkshire Opera Festival mounts a new production of THREE DECEMBERS by Jake Heggie as its Second Stage production this year. BOF is thrilled to partner with PS21, a state-of-the-art green-energy theater in Chatham, NY, which since completing its new theater has evolved into the Hudson Valley's mecca for innovative programming by leading and emerging artists in contemporary music.

The one act THREE DECEMBERS takes a deep look at the meaning of connection in the contemporary American family through the story of Broadway star Madeline Mitchell and her children. Stage Director Beth Greenberg, renowned for her work at the 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, THREE DECEMBERS was greeted by wide critical acclaim. Opera News declared: "Three Decembers is a modern masterpiece…Heggie’s voice remains his own—closer here to Broadway than the Met. That, however, is of little concern. It is music that speaks to the heart; it provokes feeling and demands emotional reaction."

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

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