It's a Wonderful Life

San Francisco Opera Co-Commission

Music by Jake Heggie

 

No one is a failure who has friends.

Meet Clara, a second-tier angel desperate to earn her wings by doing good deeds, and the man she chooses to save: George Bailey, a down-and-out businessman ready to leave this world behind. Based on Frank Capra’s beloved film, this timeless story of second chances debuts just in time for the holiday season. Come witness the magic as Clara sets out to change George’s life in this high-flying spectacle.

West Coast Premiere

Meet the Cast

Libretto by Gene Scheer

Sung in English with English supertitles


Earn Your Wings

EARN YOUR WINGS

In the spirit of fostering community, San Francisco Opera is asking you: Do you know someone who has "earned their wings" by doing good deeds? Find out how you can participate.

LEARN MORE

Reviews

a deeply pleasing addition to the roster of holiday entertainment.

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a Wonderful Life is so good—and so necessary.

Mercury News

the pleasures of this operatic version emerged unbridled on opening night.

San Francisco Chronicle

It’s a Wonderful Life just might be the opera we need right now.

Mercury News

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Synopsis

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

Read Complete Synopsis ›

 

It's a Wonderful Life

Pre-Opera Talks

Free to Ticketholders

For every performance, join us in the Orchestra section 55 minutes prior to curtain.

The Expert: CLIFFORD "KIP" CRANNA with Jake Heggie and/or Gene Scheer

Learn about the opera’s music, characters, composer and historical background.

WATCH THE VIDEO

Did you miss the Pre-Opera Talk? You can watch it here.

 

Cast and Creative

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

PERFORMANCES

November 17, 20, 24, 25, 29; December 1, 4, 7, 9, 2018

CREATIVE
Conductor Patrick Summers
Director Leonard Foglia
Set Designer Robert Brill
Costume Designer David C. Woolard
Lighting Designer Brian Nason
Projection Designer Elaine J. McCarthy
Choreographer Keturah Stickann
Chorus Director Ian Robertson

*  San Francisco Opera debut

1 Nov. 17, 20, 24, 25, 29; Dec. 1, 4, 7

2 Dec. 9

Based on the 1946 Frank Capra movie of the same name (by permission of Paramount Licensing, Inc.) and “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern.

 

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

 

By arrangement with Bent Pen Music, Inc.

 

Program Articles

MUSIC WITH HEART

American opera is alive and well in the imagination of Jake Heggie.

COMPOSER'S NOTE

Jake Heggie traces the genesis and evolution of It’s a Wonderful Life.

LIBRETTIST'S NOTE

According to Gene Scheer, his task is to be a minimalist and create language that will make the music soar.

MADE POSSIBLE BY

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

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Background

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