Fairy tales do happen, and such was the case this week when Opera Parallèle partnered with SFJAZZ Center to present Philip Glass’s evocative chamber opera “La Belle et la Bête” (“Beauty and the Beast”).

Glass’s opera is a tribute to Jean Cocteau’s 1946 film, an operatic adventure in which Glass replaced the original film score with his own, which is synchronized with the film to dramatize the story of the grotesque beast who loves and wins a young beauty (the tale is based on an 18th century French fable). The Glass score, rich and sinuous, tells the story with magic and fire; sung dialogue in for spoken dialogue, and a musical elegance that matches the film handsomely. The small ensemble, keyboards and winds, performs onstage; the singers normally vocalize from the side of the stage. Not an easy feat for the composer, who gets the lip-syncing vocal lines right down to the smallest syllable.

Singers Hadleigh Adams and Vanessa Becerra appear together onstage in a scene from “La Belle et la Bête” as the 1946 Jean Cocteau original film plays on the screen. (Photo by Cory Weaver)

Opera Parallèle’s creative team (director Brian Staufenbiel, designer David Murakami and crew) have gone a few steps further, projecting below the Cocteau classic a film showing the marvelous four-singer cast vocalizing, and putting the singers live onstage, costumed in representative 18th century finery. The period costumes replicate those in the film; Beast’s costume, ruffle for ruffle, is the image of the 1740 original (costuming by Natalie Barshow and Y. Sharon Peng).

Baritone Hadleigh Adams and Soprano Vanessa Becerra (La Belle) wear 18th century period costumes created by Natalie Barshow and Y. Sharon Peng that replicate those in the 1946 film. (Photo by Cory Weaver)

The singing was glorious: tenor Hadleigh Adams captured the anguish of the love-stricken Beast admirably and looked as princely as possible at the finale, and soprano Vanessa Becerra was vocally persuasive as Belle, as were baritone Eugene Brancoveanu and mezzo soprano Sophie Delphis performing other various roles.

Even though it is hard to take one’s eyes from Cocteau’s powerful, emotion-packed images, there is more to see and hear in this production — live singers onstage and sometimes in the audience, a second mirroring film, an assortment of storied scenes splashed on side walls, and it all works well and in service to the Cocteau masterwork. Holding all elements together on the small SFJAZZ stage was company artistic director Nicole Paiement, her spirited and authoritative conducting bringing all musical and dramatic elements into one vibrant, compelling whole.

Glass’s opera premiered in 1994 as the second part of a Cocteau series that includes “Orphée” and “Les Enfants Terribles.” Opera Parallèle is the first company to present the entire Glass-Cocteau trilogy. This staging completes the current season, but there is much more to come from this stellar and innovative company.