Cover Jake Heggie: It's a Wonderful Life (Live)

Album info



Label: PentaTone

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Vocal

Album including Album cover Booklet (PDF)


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  • Jack Heggie (1961): It's a Wonderful Life:
  • 1Prelude (Live)02:15
  • 2Act I: Clara in the Heavens (Live)10:37
  • 3Act I: George Bailey's Childhood (Live)08:41
  • 4Act I: Bedford Falls's Aladdin (Live)02:56
  • 5Act I: Goodbye Bedford Falls (Live)05:30
  • 6Act I: The High School Dance (Live)04:05
  • 7Act I: I'm Gonna See the World (Live)06:31
  • 8Act I: Wait and Save (Live)06:26
  • 9Act I: Four Years (Live)03:40
  • 10Act I: Harry's Homecoming (Live)00:28
  • 11Act I: A Rainbow at Midnight (Live)06:10
  • 12Act I: I'm Gonna Love You 'Til the Day I Die (Live)06:26
  • 13Act II: George and Mary's Wedding Day (Live)03:50
  • 14Act II: The Bank Run of 1929 (Live)05:37
  • 15Act II: Changes and Blessings (Live)03:20
  • 16Act II: Thank You, Mr. Bailey (Live)01:11
  • 17Act II: I Want to Hire You, George (Live)05:15
  • 18Act II: One Country, One Dream (Live)04:16
  • 19Act II: What a Day! (Live)01:20
  • 20Act II: Uncle Billy Loses the Bank Deposit (Live)04:20
  • 21Act II: Zuzu's Petals (Live)05:09
  • 22Act II: You're Worth More Dead Than Alive (Live)03:47
  • 23Act II: I Wish I'd Never Been Born (Live)05:06
  • 24Act II: The World Without George Bailey (Live)08:12
  • 25Act II: Christmas Morning (Live)04:39
  • 26Act II: A Wonderful Life (Live)05:23
  • 27Act II: Auld Lang Syne (Live)01:28
  • Total Runtime02:06:38

Info for Jake Heggie: It's a Wonderful Life (Live)

Composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer knew before they ever wrote a note or a line of It s a Wonderful Life that there are challenges in adapting a treasured classic for the operatic stage. After all, Heggie and Scheer s hit 2010 opera Moby-Dick raised the same challenges: how could they remain faithful to the source material and still create something new, which emphasized the story s innate operatic qualities?

For It s a Wonderful Life, Heggie and Scheer responded by keeping the basic plot and characters from the beloved Frank Capra film version but changing the perspective. As in the film, an angel changed in the opera from Clarence to Clara is assigned to help a man named George Bailey, who is despondent and contemplating taking his own life on Christmas Eve; if Clara succeeds, she will earn her wings. But in a departure from the film, all the action takes place from Clara s perspective and in her realm. Seventy mirrored doors represent portals in time and space, which Clara uses to piece together the events of George s life in an effort to understand what has brought him to this moment of despair.

How well did Heggie and Scheer succeed? Critics said the feel good work (Opera Warhorses) dispels any notion that you may have about expecting the opera to duplicate the film [and has a] crazy-quilt score that may be Heggie s most delightful concoction (Theater Jones). As the Houston Chronicle critic summed up, George Bailey would be proud.

What a great joy, privilege, and immense challenge it was to take the beloved story of It’s a Wonderful Life and compose the music for the people of Bedford Falls. The emotional journey of George Bailey and Clara allowed me to call on musical styles of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, contrasted with music from the heavens. The project of a lifetime.” (Jake Heggie)

“From the moment I began work on the libretto, I believed that George Bailey’s journey from despair to redemption was something that music could thrillingly illuminate. I also believed, with all my heart, that this story’s message of the value of every life was essential for our own time. Working on this project has been a profound privilege.” (Gene Scheer)

All theatrical composers have themes that continually inspire and define their art. For Verdi, it was tension between public duty and private passion. Wagner was obsessed with the ancient Greek dramatists and the redemptive power of women. Benjamin Britten continually returned to themes about how societies vilify outsiders.

One of the most popular opera composers of our young century, Jake Heggie, musically and theatrically illuminates rich human stories about identity, the theme to which he so often returns. All of his major characters - both Sister Helen Prejean and the doomed title character in Dead Man Walkin; Sarah in The End of the Affair; Madeline Mitchell in Three Decembers; the unforgettable fellow citizens we meet in Out of Darkness; the entire crew aboard Moby-Dick's Pequod; and the ardent Arden Scott, the title character in Great Scott - are at the crossroads of a profound why in their lives. The same is true of It's a Wonderful Life, a memory piece about two characters who come to each other's aid in ways we don't fully understand until the opera's moving climax.

It's a Wonderful Life is also about the transformative effect of simple kindnesses, a perfect description of the gratitude that I know Jake Heggie feels towards his growing audience. He is, in his unassuming, bold, and accessible way, bringing opera back to the people." (Patrick Summers, conductor)

Houston Grand Opera Chorus
Houston Grand Opera Orchestra
Patrick Summers, conductor

Houston Grand Opera (HGO)
The Houston Grand Opera Orchestra is one of the premiere opera orchestras in North America. Founded in 1955, it has grown from a small regional orchestra to forty-nine members. The opera company has been performing in its home theater, the Wortham Center, since 1987, and performs six mainstage operas per year, along with other smaller productions both in the Wortham Theater and throughout city of Houston. The orchestra has been praised for its performances of standard operas as well as its many premieres of new operas throughout the years. In the past, the orchestra was conducted by John DeMain and is now led by music director Patrick Summers.

Patrick Summers
is the artistic and music director of Houston Grand Opera and principal guest conductor of San Francisco Opera. In the 2015–16 season, Mr. Summers leads two world premieres: Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s Great Scott at Dallas Opera, and Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players at Houston Grand Opera, where he also conducts Verdi’s Tosca and the La Fura del Baus production of Wagner’s Siegfried. With the San Francisco Opera he conducts Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd. Recent guest engagements have included Donizetti’s Anna Bolena at Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Enchanted Island at Metropolitan Opera, André Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire at Los Angeles Opera, and Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Bregenz Festival in Austria. Mr. Summers has facilitated and performed more than a dozen world premieres, and he is a leading proponent for contemporary American opera and music, collaborating with many of today’s most successful and performed composers, among them Jake Heggie, Carlisle Floyd, Christopher Theofanidis, and Philip Glass. Mr. Summers has conducted a wide range of repertoire from Baroque to bel canto to German Romantic, and has appeared with companies including Deutsche Oper Berlin, Welsh National Opera, Rome Opera, Norwegian Opera, and Opera Australia, among others.

Booklet for Jake Heggie: It's a Wonderful Life (Live)

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