"Three Decembers" from the Microscopic Opera Company is a chamber opera (this means "short") which follows a mother, daughter and son together through three Christmases in three different decades. The mother is a famous stage actress. Her daughter is a pinot noir-slugging housewife with two kids. And the son is caretaking his boyfriend who has contracted AIDS. The story unfolds as the children come to discover their fading memories may not be the only reason they have trouble remembering their father.
The magical nature that the Microscopic Opera Company establishes cannot be overpraised. The set is made up of simple white furniture, reminiscent of the delicate nature of a dollhouse, and surrounds the excellent ten-piece orchestra. The production is top-notch, directed by Lise Ann Goldsmith. It is at times haunting, hilarious, heart-breaking, all the while being an honest portrayal of family life. The actors command the complete set and beyond, making use of the entire space. The entire production is so well put-together that small movements, intricate moments here and there let you know that characters are connected even if they are seperated by time and space.
If the performers of the Microscopic Theatre Company are any indication, the days of opera singers singing without acting are either numbered or already dead. Every member of the three-person cast rises to the occasion creating, not just characters, but believable human beings. Mary Gould as the mother, Madeline Mitchell, is the quintessential diva constantly lamenting her children or behaving like a child herself. Daniel Teadt, who is about to make his New York City Opera debut, plays Charlie, the son, whose veneer of wit and charm covers his need for his mother's long-overdo acceptance of himself and life partner. And Beatrice (actress's name not included in program) the sister whose drinking intensifies as she searches for guidance from a dead father. While all these roles could fall into the chasm of stereotype, the polished and savy actor/singers keep their performances grounded in honesty while reaching the heaven with their voices.
As stated before, the orchestra is excellent and lend a depth to the piece that simply cannot be captured without live music. The music is so at one with the performance onstage that the audience is free to "forget" they are there and absorb the performance. All the elements of the stage - lights, set, sound- stand together beautifully. In particular, costumes, by Richard Parsakian, are actually incredibly period-specific, so the audeince knows what decade we're in before someone actually has to say the date.
"Three Decembers" is a piece not just for opera connoisseurs but for anyone desiring to witness a night of great theatre. Best of all, the cast performs unmiked, so the power and subtlty of their voices shine through and enhance the story. While the mother constantly laments why life is so hard, the Microscopic Opera Company is music to the ears.
Tickets for "Three Decembers" may be purchased here: http://microscopicopera.org/Home.html *
*Purchases made AT the theatre are cash only.
-The Eponymous Theatre Critic marches to the beat of an entirely different drum. ENTIRELY different. So different in fact that it is actually a banjo. It is a difficult life, only marching to string instruments...