It's a Wonderful Life educator materials

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.

Libretto by Gene Scheer

Sung in English with English supertitles


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 *
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
Conductor Patrick Summers
Director Leonard Foglia
Set Designer Robert Brill
Costume Designer David C. Woolard
Lighting Designer Brian Nason
Video 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

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

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

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