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It's a Wonderful Life Comes to Houston as an Opera

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Opera has been looking for a good Christmas vehicle for a long time, says American tenor William Burden.

Houston Grand Opera is hoping it has found one with the world premiere of It's a Wonderful Life, based on the Frank Capra movie classic. Burden will be singing the iconic role of George Bailey, the man whose life is so full of disappointments that he contemplates suicide on Christmas Eve.

Jake Heggie (Moby Dick, Dead Man Walking) and librettist Gene Scheer (Moby Dick) are responsible for the two-act new work.

“It’s an absolutely beautiful treatment of a story that is very familiar, but quite different from the film,” says Burden, who was originally a Spanish major at Middlebury in Vermont before discovering opera and going to Indiana University to get a master's in voice performance. Not willing to reveal any of the surprises in this new version, Burden promises “wonderful theatrical magic.” And still a happy ending.

"Audiences should be excited about this. It's a very joyous addition to their early holiday experience," Burden says.

Performances are scheduled for December 2-17 at 7:30 p.m. Friday December 2; 7 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at the Wortham Theater Center, 501 Texas. Sung in English with surtitles. For information call 713-228-6737 or visit houstongrandopera.org. $48 - $127.

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