The Central Park triptych of operas -- which premiered at the Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY, last August, and was later seen at the New York City Opera -- will have its broadcast premiere Jan. 19, on PBS' "Great Performances." The three pieces features librettos by leading playwrights Wendy Wasserstein, Terrence McNally and A.R. Gurney.
Central Park was co-commissioned by Glimmerglass, NYCO and PBS, and the "Great Performances" program draws from shows taped in Cooperstown. The trio of one-act operas consists of The Festival of Regrets by Wasserstein and composer Deborah Drattell; Strawberry Fields by Gurney and Michael Torke; and The Food of Love by McNally and Robert Beaser. The entire production is directed by Mark Lamos.
The Festival of Regrets takes place at Central Park's Bethesda Fountain (a popular locale for playwrights; Tony Kushner's "Angels in America" ended its journey at the fountain). There, a rabbi leads his congregation in the ceremony of Tashlich, also known as the Festival of Regrets, in which people throw bread into a flowing body of water to rid themselves of their sins. At the ceremony, a middle-aged divorcee encounters her ex-husband; the two proceed to reexamine their marriage.
Strawberry Fields concerns an elderly old lady who lives at the Dakota apartment building on Central Park West. Every day, she visits her favorite park bench, which, to her clouded mind, is a seat at the opera. As her son struggles to move her to a nursing home, the lady befriends a young student whom she mistakes for her late husband.
The zoo is the setting for The Food of Love, in which a homeless woman tries in vain to give her baby away to the various visitors and employees at the park. "Great Performances" airs in New York City 9-11 PM (check local listings).
--By Robert Simonson