Three Decembers was fabulous!

Read the local reviews:

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

URBAN Milwaukee

Shepherd Express

Visit our facebook page to see the photo albums from our opening night to FUEL Milwaukee’s Artmob (click for images)  and the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin’s evening at THREE DECEMBERS with a talkback and reception (click for images).

Three Decembers is an emotionally charged, and critically acclaimed, chamber opera by one of America’s leading operatic composers, Jake Heggie.

The opera explores the emotional shrapnel, secrets and hard truths that take place over three decades in the lives of a Broadway diva and her adult son and daughter.

At the center is Madeline (Mezzo-soprano Lucy Schaufer in her Florentine debut), a widowed and aging Broadway diva who has long ignored her children, as she pursues her own career. Her daughter Bea (Soprano Rena HarmsTurandot 2011, Carmen, 2012) is nursing a failed marriage as well as the bottle, and her son Charlie (Baritone Keith Phares – title role in the two-time Grammy® Award-winner Elmer Gantry 2010,) is slowly losing his partner Burt, to AIDS.

Against this dramatic tension, Heggie has written deeply felt and accessible music to flesh out the characters’ tangled emotions and relationships. The score reminds one of how achingly expressive simple, yet profound,  music for the lyric stage can be. The poignant libretto, laced with humor,  by Gene Scheer is based on a story by four-time Tony Award-winner Terrence McNally (author of Masterclass, and the musical Kiss of the Spiderwoman) for an AIDS benefit in 1999 at Carnegie Hall. Three Decembers will be directed by William Florescu and conducted by Joseph Rescigno in the Wilson Theater at Vogel Hall at Milwaukee’s Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, accompanied by members of the Wisconsin Philharmonic.  This new production is designed by noted scenic designer Vince Mountain, with lighting design by the Florentine’s Noele Stollmack, and costume design by Leslie Vaglica.

Co-commissioned in 2008 by the Houston Grand Opera and the San Francisco Opera, Three Decembers premiered under the title Last Acts.  It has played to enthusiastic audiences across the country, most recently in productions by the Atlanta Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Des Moines Metro Opera, Washington D.C.’s Urban Arias, and most recently, Kentucky Opera, starring Denyce Graves, and directed by the Florentine’s William Florescu.

Opera Today called THREE DECEMBERS
A modern masterpiece

The Chicago Tribune called THREE DECEMBERS
Sharp, witty and poignant… an engaging crowd pleaser

Opera News’ Mark Ketterson wrote
…a vastly rewarding evening of music drama…
…Heggie’s people move us because they have musical souls.

The Denver Post’s Kyle MacMillan wrote
…the music here is tuneful and expressive, with his usual affinity for the human voice. But the composer’s complex uncompromising language gives the score backbone and never allows it to sink into sentimentalism.

Read and listen to all of our preview press and radio interviews:


• Listen in on WPR’s state-wide broadcast of the MIDDAY. (Norman Gilliland interviews the director and Baritone, Keith Phares while they review selections from the opera)
• Read the preview from The Shepherd Express. (Steve Spice interviews the stage director WiIliam Florescu)
• Listen to the 104.1 Riverwest radio archive of Steve Spice with the marketing team from the Florentine Opera. (learn more about our community partners and special events)

• Read the preview from The Journal Sentinel. (Elaine Schmidt interviews composer, Jake Heggie and stage director William Florescu)


A video message from the composer about the opera.



We welcome you to read the following materials for Three Decembers, and to join us for Prof. Phillabaum’s talk at Die Fledermaus in May.

Click the links below for two performance companion pieces for Three Decembers (Courtesy of Prof. Corliss Phillabaum):

  1. Jake Heggie recording review, by: Corliss Phillabaum
  2. Program Note for Three Decembers








ARCW Night with the Florentine Opera on Friday, March 18th

Come to the Friday March 18 performance and $20 per ticket* will go to ARCW’s Pathway To Wellness program (be sure to select the ARCW seating option when you purchase online, or request the ARCW seating option when you call-in to 1800 32 OPERA).

Join us after the performance for a talk back and reception with the artists of Three Decembers, and leadership from ARCW.

*made possible by a gift from Joseph R. Pabst.

This event and performance is supported by the Florentine CAMERATA with additional support from:

cream city foundation-web

The Cream City Foundation sponsorship is made possible through the generous support of the Will Radler Fund and Valentine Fund




Pay What You Can on Wednesday, March 16th

Pay What You Can tickets are available on March 16th starting at 9:00am via phone (414) 291-5700 ext. 224 or in person at the box office.

Ticket availability is limited, and seat location is subject to availability. There are no refunds or exchanges available for Pay What You Can performances, and the special rate cannot be applied to previously purchased tickets or in combination with other ticket offers.


fuel Milwaukee logo






Art Mob with FUEL Milwaukee
Wednesday, March 16th


6:00PM-7:20PM Mix & Mingle at Vagabond – Enjoy complimentary appetizers and cash bar with members from FUEL Milwaukee.
7:20PM-7:30PM Grab Your Seats and Enjoy the Show – Curtain time is 7:30PM and the production lasts about 1 1/2 hours
9:00PM After Party at CLEAR in the InterContinental – Enjoy drink specials with your ticket stub


$12 Members
$25 Non-Members








Joseph R. Pabst: Opening Night & Community Engagement Sponsor
Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trust: Original Set & Costume Sponsor
Nita Soref, Title Sponsor

Special thanks to our Media Sponsors:
onmilwaukee-logo Wisconsin_Public_Radio_Logo-1




THREE DECEMBERS is presented by permission of the publisher, Bent Pen Music.  Sole Agent: Bill Holab Music

Estimated run time:
90 minutes, no intermission



Click here to download our Mainstage Resource Guide



Performance Dates and Times

Friday, March 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 13, 2016 at 2:30 PM
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Friday, March 18, 2016 at 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 2:30 PM

Performance Location

The Wilson Theater at the Marcus Center’s Vogel Hall
123 E State Street Milwaukee, WI 53202 Get Directions »


Sung in English with English supertitles projected above the stage.