Streaming Begins December 3rd

World-renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Graham leads the cast of Opera San José’s first fully-staged digital production, Jake Heggie’s THREE DECEMBERS, based on Tony Award winning playwright Terrence McNally’s unpublished play “Some Christmas Letters”. Conducted by Resident Conductor Christopher James Ray, and Directed by Resident Director Tara Branham, THREE DECEMBERS follows the captivating story of a famous actress, Madeline Mitchell (Graham), and her two adult children, Beatrice and Charlie, portrayed by celebrated singers, OSJ Resident Artists Maya Kherani and Efraín Solís. This intimate 90-minute chamber opera, spanning three decades (1986, 1996, 2006), brings to mesmerizing life a family’s struggle to understand one another – fears of loss, and a yearning for connection, permeate this “modern masterpiece” (Opera Today), profoundly resonating with our current moment. With a brilliant, witty libretto by Gene Scheer and rich, soaring score by Jake Heggie, THREE DECEMBERS is a fullhearted American opera about family – the ones we are born into, and those we create.

Opera San José’s Three Decembers is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Terrance McNally

Also a marvelous gift! If you’d like to purchase a ticket for another household, please email boxoffice@operasj.org.

Photo Credit: Mark Leialoha
Photo Credit: David Allen

This production is made possible, in part, by the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and Peggy Heiman.

Production Photos

Photo Credit: David Allen
Photo Credit: David Allen
Photo Credit: David Allen
Photo Credit: David Allen

Meet the Cast

Susan Graham

American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham makes her company debut at Opera San José as Madeline Mitchell, reuniting with composer Jake Heggie, who created the role of Sister Helen in Dead Man Walking especially for her. Hailed as “an artist to treasure” by The New York Times, Graham rose to the highest echelon of international performers within just a few years of her professional debut, appearing in the great opera houses of the world – from Milan’s La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Dresden’s Semperoper, and the Salzburg Festival. Graham launched onto the national scene as a winner in the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, and her Bay Area connections include her tenure in San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, where she was awarded the Schwabacher Award.  She went on to make her international debut at Covent Garden in 1994, playing Massenet’s Chérubin. Graham’s earliest operatic successes were in such trouser roles as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Her technical expertise soon brought mastery of more virtuosic parts, and she went on to triumph as Octavian in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and the Composer in his Ariadne auf Naxos. Graham sang the leading ladies in the Metropolitan Opera’s world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and made her musical theater debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In concert, she makes regular appearances with the world’s foremost orchestras, often in French repertoire, while her distinguished discography comprises a wealth of opera, orchestral, and solo recordings. Among her numerous honors are a Grammy Award, an Opera News Award, and Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year. As one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music, Graham has also been recognized with the French government’s “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.”

Susan Graham

American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham makes her company debut at Opera San José as Madeline Mitchell, reuniting with composer Jake Heggie, who created the role of Sister Helen in Dead Man Walking especially for her. Hailed as “an artist to treasure” by The New York Times, Graham rose to the highest echelon of international performers within just a few years of her professional debut, appearing in the great opera houses of the world – from Milan’s La Scala to the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Dresden’s Semperoper, and the Salzburg Festival. Graham launched onto the national scene as a winner in the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, and her Bay Area connections include her tenure in San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program, where she was awarded the Schwabacher Award.  She went on to make her international debut at Covent Garden in 1994, playing Massenet’s Chérubin. Graham’s earliest operatic successes were in such trouser roles as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Her technical expertise soon brought mastery of more virtuosic parts, and she went on to triumph as Octavian in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and the Composer in his Ariadne auf Naxos. Graham sang the leading ladies in the Metropolitan Opera’s world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, and made her musical theater debut in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. In concert, she makes regular appearances with the world’s foremost orchestras, often in French repertoire, while her distinguished discography comprises a wealth of opera, orchestral, and solo recordings. Among her numerous honors are a Grammy Award, an Opera News Award, and Musical America’s Vocalist of the Year. As one of the foremost exponents of French vocal music, Graham has also been recognized with the French government’s “Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.”

Maya Kherani

Lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations from the Baroque to the modern, soprano Maya Kherani returns to Opera San José as a 2020/21 Resident Artist, and portrays Beatrice in this production. Kherani made her company debut as a guest artist during the 2017-18 season, appearing as Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Yvette (Lisette cover) in Puccini’s La Rondine, and in 2018 as Blonde (cover) in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. Additional career highlights include starring in the title role of Handel’s Partenope with Opera NEO; Meera in the premiere of Jack Perla’s The River of Light, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera; and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichote chez la Duchesse with Central City Opera. Upcoming debuts include engagements with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Vancouver Symphony, and Boston Baroque. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition, two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and this year, was the only American soprano to compete as a Semifinalist in the international Glyndebourne Opera Cup.

Efraín Solís

Applauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “theatrical charisma and musical bravado,” Opera San José 2020-21 Resident Artist baritone Efraín Solís makes his debut with the company as Charlie in this production. Solís is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and while with the company sang his first performances of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La cenerentola, Schaunard in La bohème, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, Sciarrone in Tosca, and Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. Recent performances include Lieutenant Audeberet in Puts’s Silent Night (Utah Opera), Mark in Martinez’s Cruzar la cara de la luna (Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, El Paso Opera), Mercutio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Utah Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera), Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Fiagro (Opera Memphis, Livermore Valley Opera), and El Payador in Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires (Opera Southwest). His debuts scheduled for last season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Fort Worth Opera were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maya Kherani

Lauded for her vibrant voice and exciting characterizations from the Baroque to the modern, soprano Maya Kherani returns to Opera San José as a 2020/21 Resident Artist, and portrays Beatrice in this production. Kherani made her company debut as a guest artist during the 2017-18 season, appearing as Despina in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, Yvette (Lisette cover) in Puccini’s La Rondine, and in 2018 as Blonde (cover) in Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. Additional career highlights include starring in the title role of Handel’s Partenope with Opera NEO; Meera in the premiere of Jack Perla’s The River of Light, commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera; and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichote chez la Duchesse with Central City Opera. Upcoming debuts include engagements with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Vancouver Symphony, and Boston Baroque. She received First Place and Audience Favorite at the James Toland Vocal Competition, two Encouragement Awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and this year, was the only American soprano to compete as a Semifinalist in the international Glyndebourne Opera Cup.

Efraín Solís

Applauded by the San Francisco Chronicle for his “theatrical charisma and musical bravado,” Opera San José 2020-21 Resident Artist baritone Efraín Solís makes his debut with the company as Charlie in this production. Solís is a recent graduate of the San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship and while with the company sang his first performances of Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La cenerentola, Schaunard in La bohème, Silvano in Un ballo in maschera, Sciarrone in Tosca, and Prince Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. Recent performances include Lieutenant Audeberet in Puts’s Silent Night (Utah Opera), Mark in Martinez’s Cruzar la cara de la luna (Houston Grand Opera, New York City Opera, El Paso Opera), Mercutio in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Utah Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Carolina, Toledo Opera), Figaro in Mozart’s Le nozze di Fiagro (Opera Memphis, Livermore Valley Opera), and El Payador in Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires (Opera Southwest). His debuts scheduled for last season with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Fort Worth Opera were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Team

Conductor, Christopher James Ray
Director, Tara Branham

Artistic Advisor, Jake Heggie
Set Design, Steven C. Kemp
Costume Coordinator, Alyssa Oania
Lighting Design, David Lee Cuthbert

Head of Music Staff/Pianist, Veronika Agranov-Dafoe
Pianist, Sunny Yoon
Stage Manager, Jayme O’Hara
Covid Safety Officer, Emily Wolf
Hair and Makeup Design, Christina Martin
Video Production, Flying Moose Pictures

Determined to support artists and continue presenting art during this pandemic, Opera San José General Director Khori Dastoor envisioned this pioneering production as an opportunity to utilize the know-how of the company’s Silicon Valley environs to make music performances available during this crisis. The company assembled an outstanding team to create a safe performance space, operated under the strictest safety protocols, to achieve a world-class digital capture. The participating artists quarantined and created a social pod, allowing them to safely interact during the process. All cast and crew underwent frequent COVID testing and temperature checks and adhered to strict masking and social distancing protocols. The filming space was cleaned/disinfected continually and divided by clear plexiglass barriers, isolating musicians/conductors from singers, and all crew wore personal protective equipment (PPE). A dedicated COVID-19 safety officer remained on-site throughout the entire process to ensure that all safety measures were strictly observed, enabling the company to proceed with the creation of this extraordinary production.

Production Sponsors

This production was made possible by the generous support of the Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation and Peggy Heiman.  Opera San Jose is supported, in part, by a Cultural Affairs grant from the City of San Jose, the National Endowment for the Arts, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundations, The Packard Humanities Institute, The Wadhwani Foundation, and Applied Materials Foundation. 

Susan Graham’s appearance was made possible by the generous support of Lawrence A. Kern. 

Maya Kherani’s appearance was made possible, in part, by John M. Heineke & Catherine R. Montfort. Efraín Solís’ appearance was made possible, in part, by Jan & Don Schmidek. Christopher James Ray’s appearance was made possible, in part, by Michael McGinley.