Jake Heggie & Gene Scheer’s ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ To Have San Francisco Opera Premiere

By Francisco Salazar

The San Francisco Opera is set to present the West Coast premiere of “It’s a Wonderful Life” by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer in nine holiday-season performances.

The opera, scheduled to be performed from Nov. 17 through Dec. 9, is a co-production between San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and is based in part on Frank Capra’s 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Greatest Gift,” a story by Philip Van Doren Stern.

In a press release, Heggie noted, “It’s a Wonderful Life had a beautiful premiere in December 2016, but we were still learning about the piece, of course. We worked on it last year for Indiana University and made quite a few changes, expanding some arias, adding two very beautiful duets and I also wrote a new opening for the opera that starts with a joyful explosion. Our director, Leonard Foglia, and the design team have also revisited the production in some striking and startling ways. It’s all coming together for the San Francisco Opera production which is going to be a knockout and a real treat for the audience!”

The cast features tenor William Burden as George Bailey. soprano Golda Schultz in her San Francisco Opera debut as angel Clara, baritone Rod Gilfry, soprano Andriana Chuchman in company debut, and current San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows soprano Sarah Cambidge, mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, tenor Amitai Pati and bass-baritone Christian Pursell.

Patrick Summers will conduct the San Francisco Opera Orchestra with Leonard Foglia directing the production.