It’s a Wonderful Life (2016)

Libretto by Gene Scheer & Music by Jake Heggie

Made famous by the 1946 Frank Capra movie, this timeless tale follows a troubled banker whose guardian angel helps us realize the lasting impact our lives can have on those around us.

It’s a Wonderful Life
The operatic version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” that opened at the San Francisco Opera on Saturday, Nov. 17 – just in time for the holidays – is everything the classic Frank Capra movie of 1946 was before it. It’s fizzy and funny, heartwarming and sentimental, and full of just enough poster-board moralism to leave everyone (except perhaps money-grubbing slumlords) feeling pretty gosh-darned good about the world.
Although based on the beloved Frank Capra film, I didn’t know quite what to expect from a “family-friendly holiday” opera. I most certainly did not expect to be completely overwhelmed and moved to the point of tears, which flowed freely from a heart inexplicably opened by the sheer aching beauty of every sound uttered by South African soprano Golda Schultz (making her SF Opera debut), and from the universal, yet deeply personal resonance of the lyrics, so perfectly crafted by librettist Gene Scheer.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” just might be the opera we need right now. After a year of devastating fires, mass shootings, political turmoil and paralyzing uncertainty, Jake Heggie’s opera has arrived at the War Memorial Opera House with a simple, uplifting message: “no one is a failure who has friends.”