This November, opening the festive season at the London Coliseum, the English National Opera (ENO) presents the highly anticipated UK premiere of It’s a Wonderful Life. Composed by Jake Heggie in 2016 with the libretto by Gene Scheer, this is an operatic adaptation of the 1946 Frank Capra Christmas classic film, sung in English.
A blended tale of fantasy and drama loosely based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of George Bailey, a humble man of humble origins in a humble small town. Having sacrificed many of his own dreams to help others around him, George is driven to breakdown, only to be shown by his guardian angel how his life enriches his community in ways he could never imagine.
It’s a Wonderful Life is a family friendly opera, perfect for first-time opera goers of all ages. It is an all-singing, all-dancing tale of hope and redemption sprinkled with a smattering of festive magic. Tickets start from £10 for everyone, under 21s can access free tickets to all performances, and under 35s can sign up for huge discounts.
Jake Heggie says: ‘I am over the moon that the ENO has assembled such an extraordinary cast and creative team for this fabulous new production at the London Coliseum. When creating It’s a Wonderful Life, Gene Scheer and I wanted to give audiences a memorable holiday experience, packed with lyrical singing, big ensembles, and the powerful emotions that opera can explore like no other art form. This show brings people together – especially during this festive season – and London audiences of all ages are in for a magical, moving, and astonishing evening of music and dance.’
Directing and Choreographing It’s a Wonderful Life is Aletta Collins, making her ENO directorial debut.
Conducting the award-winning ENO Orchestra and making her ENO debut in the pit is regular Heggie collaborator Nicole Paiement.
‘Opera’s coolest soprano’ (The New York Times Magazine) and Australian-American actress Danielle de Niese makes her ENO operatic debut performing the role of Clara, George’s guardian angel.
American tenor Frederick Ballentine will be making his role debut as George Bailey.
British soprano Jennifer France returns to the ENO for her role debut as Mary Hatch Bailey.
American bass baritone Donovan Singletary will be performing the role of Harry Bailey.
Tenor Roland Samm, born in Trinidad and Tobago, is performing the role of Uncle Billy Bailey.
Bringing her ‘expressive’ and ‘sumptuous voice’ (The Guardian) to the role of Mother Bailey is British soprano Gweneth Ann Rand.
Making his ENO debut is American baritone Michael Mayes as Mr Potter.
As the Angel Quartet, British soprano Keri Fuge, who is making her ENO debut, will be joined on stage by current ENO Harewood Artists; German mezzo-soprano Idunnu Münch, South African tenor Zwakele Tshabalala, and British bass-baritone Ossian Huskinson. British baritone and former ENO Harewood Artist Alex Otterburn will be returning to the London Coliseum in the role of Ernie. The stellar cast will be joined on stage by the ENO Chorus.
Giles Cadle is the Set Designer, Gabrielle Dalton is the Costume Designer, Andreas Fuchs is the Lighting Designer, and Nick Lidster is the Sound Designer.
It’s a Wonderful Life opens on Friday 25 November for 10 performances: Nov 25, 29, 30 and Dec 3, 7, 9 at 19.30. Nov 27 and Dec 3, 10 at 15.00.
A fully staged Relaxed Performance will be on Wednesday 7 December at 11.00.