The post-Trump opera whose plot you already know

The post-Trump opera whose plot you already know


norman lebrecht

December 01, 2016

The world premiere of Jake Heggie’s new opera will be given tomorrow night in Houston.

The new work, called It’s a Wonderful Life, is based on the deathless 1946 Frank Capra Christmas movie.


In an interview with Shawn E. Milnes, the composer reflects on Donald Trump’s recent presidential election victory:

It’s A Wonderful Life is a timeless story about community and the individual feeling like the outsider. You’ve made a huge difference by being in the community and participating and, yeah, it’s definitely a story of our time.

‘This feels like a very dark period. Nothing has changed outside. The sun is still shining and there’s still leaves and leaf blowers and there’s little kids running around. But it feels like something fundamentally shifted.

‘I’m figuring out how to move forward and channel the grief that I feel into something positive. Having this work at hand right now is the best thing possible. To be able to bury yourself in productive work with wonderful colleagues on a project that has a very important message: what more could you hope for?’

Read the full interview here.


  • William Osborne says:

    Wouldn’t one expect the Houston Grand Opera to deal with a plot that isn’t quite so simplistic and one-dimensional – the usual Hollywood sentimentality with a pat resolution? Sadly, the answer is no. It fits a large part of the opera world’s mindset pretty well. It also reaffirms the growing trend that contemporary music theater has to be based on a movie: The Fly, Séance on a Wet Afternoon, Lost Highway, Brief Encounter, Il Postino, Silent Night, Cold Mountain, The Lion King, etc. The last gasps of a glorious but dead art form…

    • jaxon says:

      This is a very thoughtful review from someone who hasn’t seen the opera and probably doesn’t intend to! Do let us know your very important and weighty thoughts about the next opera whose premise you read about.