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It’s a Wonderful Life ~ From the Diary of Anne Frank ~ A History of World War II

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the Bay Area performing arts, host David Latulippe talks with composer Jake Heggie about the San Francisco Opera’s West Coast Premiere production of his new opera It’s a Wonderful Life, based in part on Frank Capra’s 1946 film starring James Stewart, Donna Reed and Lionel Barrymore. The opera opens this weekend and runs through December 9. 

Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life is an opera in two acts, with a libretto by Gene Scheer. The opera is co-commissioned and co-produced by San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. The storyline mostly follows the 1946 movie: on Christmas Eve, George Bailey is contemplating suicide until an angel helps him see the positive impact of his life on others, thereby restoring his will to live. 

It’s a Wonderful Life  premiered at Houston Grand Opera in 2016.

We talk to mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, who is in town to perform the role of the narrator in Michael Tilson Thomas’ composition From the Diary of Anne Frank. Concerts are on November 15, 16, 17 and 18, and commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

This is the first time the San Francisco Symphony performs this work. MTT himself conducts. Also on the program: Beethoven's Symphony No. 3, Eroica

Plus, we talk with award-winning actor/playwright and artistic director of Theatre Rhinoceros, John Fisher, about his solo show A History of World War II: The D-Day Invasion to the Fall of Berlin. In it, Fisher offers a compendium of facts about WWII, from the bungled plot to assassinate Hitler (“A mess! Organized by a bunch of loser bureaucrats!”) to the big secret – how the Russians won the war for us (“They did all the work!”). 

Capturing the Best Actor award from the 2017 United Solo Festival, this highly entertaining work also demonstrates how WWII helped Fisher win boyhood battles with his older brother. A History of World War II   runs at The Marsh in San Francisco through December 15. 

Open Air with host David Latulippe, heard live on Thursday, November 15, at 1pm. Listen now or anytime…