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Livermore Valley Opera presents 'Three Decembers'

Frederica von Stade to star in role created for her

Livermore Valley Opera will present mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade in Jake Heggie's "Three Decembers" in a starring role created just for her, at the Bankhead Theater at 7:30 p.m. April 28 and 3 p.m. April 29.

This production celebrates the 10th anniversary of the contemporary opera, which has adult themes and language, and was the first American opera performed by Livermore Valley Opera.

"I feel so blessed to have another chance to sing Jake Heggie's wonderful 'Three Decembers,'" von Stade said.

LVO artistic director Erie Mills, who has sung in operas with von Stade before, saw her perform in "Three Decembers" last year.

"I heard her sing the opera in Honolulu in March 2017, and I asked her if she would be interested in singing it for LVO," Mills said. "This is a wonderful opportunity to perform this opera with Ms. von Stade. It will offer a unique experience for audiences because the story is about family and relationships, something anyone can relate to, and it is in English."

The two-act chamber opera is based on an unpublished play, "Some Christmas Letters," by Terrence McNally. Set in the month of December in the years 1986, 1996 and 2006, "Three Decembers" tells the story of a famous actress, Madeline, and her two adult children as they struggle to know and love each other. It's a universal story about the family we wish for, and the family we wind up with.

"The character Maddy that I play is a famous actress who has known all the ups and downs of a life in show biz," von Stade explained. "She has suffered and she has caused suffering, especially to her two children, Bea and Charlie, because she has hidden a very tragic fact from them.

"The opera is full of wonderful humor, pathos, light and darkness, and through Jake's beautiful music and the amazing libretto of Gene Scheer, we get to know three very interesting people, three very real people, and find a little bit of ourselves in them."

The April 29 matinee will be followed by a dinner to benefit the opera, at 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Hall, 522 South L St. in Livermore. The dinner will include appetizers, a three-course paella dinner, Livermore wines and a chance to meet the singers.

Tickets for the opera are $42-$90. Go to LVOpera.com or the Bankhead box office, 2400 First St. in Livermore, or call 373-6800. Tickets to the benefit dinner are $200, of which $100 is an LVO donation.

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