It's a Wonderful Life

San Francisco Opera Co-Commission

Music by Jake Heggie


Experience how precious life really is.

George Bailey stands on a snowy bridge at Christmas and contemplates his end. An angel training for her wings hears his plea and journeys through his memories to save his soul. Based on Frank Capra’s beloved film, this timeless story of second chances debuts just in time for the holiday season.

West Coast Premiere

Meet the Cast

Libretto by Gene Scheer

Sung in English with English supertitles

See a Performance

Great first opera!

Running Time

Approximately 2 hours 30 minutes including one intermission

Who Should See It

Fans of Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Death of a Salesman, Jake Heggie, Carousel, Holiday stories and operas in English.

Found in series

Full Series: A, D*, G, J, M, R*
Half Series: B, E*, I, L, N, RBW*, S*, W, X*
*Best Value Series

Invite a Friend

Saturday 11/17/18 7:30PM
Tuesday 11/20/18 7:30PM
Saturday 11/24/18 2:00PM *
Sunday 11/25/18 2:00PM *
Thursday 11/29/18 7:30PM *
Saturday 12/01/18 7:30PM *
Tuesday 12/04/18 7:30PM
Friday 12/07/18 7:30PM
Sunday 12/09/18 2:00PM


Subscribe to a Full Series to get first access to purchase tickets to Plácido Domingo in Concert. Call the Box Office to arrange a payment plan and secure your seats with as little as 25% down.

* OperaVision, HD video projection screens featured in the Balcony level for this performance, is made possible by the Koret/Taube Media Suite.

The Buzz


“Gene Scheer is such an accomplished librettist in his understanding of how words and music collude in the theatre … Heggie, for his part, is a born melodist, purveyor of the most grateful, ‘singable’ vocal lines and a word-setter of real eloquence.”

“Tenor William Burden brought searing conviction to the role of George Bailey.”
Opera News

"Soprano Golda Schultz was the true star… her voice buoyant yet substantial, creamy but never heavy."
The New York Times


Through the help of an intervening angel, a desperate man discovers the meaningful impact of his life.

Read Complete Synopsis ›


Cast and Creative

George Bailey William Burden
Clara Golda Schultz *1
Clara Kearstin Piper Brown *2
Mary Hatch Andriana Chuchman *
Uncle Billy Bailey Keith Jameson *
Mr. Potter Rod Gilfry
Harry Bailey Joshua Hopkins *
Angel Quartet Sarah Cambidge
Angel Quartet Ashley Dixon *
Angel Quartet Amitai Pati
Angel Quartet Christian Pursell
Mother Bailey Catherine Cook


November 7, 20, 24, 25, 29; December 1, 4, 7, 9, 2018

Conductor Patrick Summers
Director Leonard Foglia
Set Designer Robert Brill
Choreographer Keturah Stickann
Chorus Director Ian Robertson

*  San Francisco Opera debut

1 Nov. 7, 20, 24, 25, 29; Dec. 1, 4, 7

2 Dec. 9

A co-commission and co-production with Houston Grand Opera and Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music.


John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; San Francisco Opera Guild; and Jan Shrem & Maria Manetti Shrem, through the Emerging Stars Fund.

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Photo (top): Houston Grand Opera production of It's a Wonderful Life/Lynn Lane.