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Inheritance Chamber Opera
Wednesday, October 24th, 2018
7:00 pm
Conrad Prebys Music Center Experimental Theater
Tickets handled by
UC San Diego Box Office
Ticket information: 858-534-8497

INHERITANCE: A Chamber Opera

Inheritance is a chamber opera revolving around Sarah Winchester, the eccentric widow and heiress to the Winchester rifle fortune.  According to popular belief, she imprisoned herself in her labyrinth-like home to seek refuge from the spirits of those killed by the same weapons whose manufacture and sale gave her a life of indescribable wealth.  With music by composer Lei Liang and libretto by poet Matt Donovan, Inheritance juxtaposes elements of Winchester’s biography with contemporary events in a work that explores America’s deeply complex relationship with guns.

Music director Steven Schick and stage director Cara Consilvio lead the world premiere performances in a production featuring multimedia stage design by artist Ligia Bouton and lighting design by Mary Ellen Stebbins. The seventy-five minute work has a cast of four and is scored for chamber ensemble of virtuoso musicians with soprano/producer Susan Narucki in the role of Sarah Winchester.

Concert Program (PDF)



Music by Lei Liang

Libretto by Matt Donovan

Production Design by Ligia Bouton

Lighting Design by Mary Ellen Stebbins

Produced by Susan Narucki


Stage Direction by Cara Consilvio

Musical Direction by Steven Schick



Sarah Susan Narucki

Ghost 1 Kirsten Ashley Wiest

Ghost 2 Hillary Jean Young

Tour Guide/Ghost 3 Josué Cerón



Madison Greenstone and Anthony Burr, clarinets/bass clarinets

David Aguila, trumpet

Fiona Digney and Sean Dowgray, percussion

    Pablo Gomez Cano, guitar

Takae Onishi, harpsichord

Mark Dresser, contrabass


Steven Schick, conductor


Music Staff:

Celeste Oram, Associate Music Director / Conductor

James Beauton, Assistant Conductor

Kyle Adam Blair, Vocal Coach / Rehearsal Accompanist

Production Team:

Rita Navarro, Stage Manager

Esther (NEED LAST NAME)  Assistant Stage Manager

Stacie Logue, Assistant Costume Designer



Inheritance is co-presented by ArtPOWER and  the UC San Diego Department of Music


David Borgo, Chair

Barbara Jackson, CAO

Linda Higgins, Fiscal Manager

Elizabeth Cuevas, Fiscal Assistant

Neal Bociek, Facilities Manager

Andrew Munsey, Recording Engineer

Alexis Negron, Marketing and Promotions Coordinator

Miguel Ramirez, HR/AP Manager


Inheritance has received the generous support of

Creative Capital Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts



UC San Diego Division of Arts and Humanities,

Cristina Della Coletta, Dean


With additional underwriting by

Phyllis and Dan Epstein

Julia Falk

Catherine and Robert Palmer



Lei Liang  - Composer

Chinese-born American composer Lei Liang is the winner of the Rome Prize, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Koussevitzky Foundation Commission, two National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Creative Capital Award. His concerto for saxophone and orchestra “Xiaoxiang” was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2015.

Lei Liang was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series. Other commissions and performances come from the Fromm Music Foundation, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Taipei Chinese Orchestra, among others. Lei Liang’s six portrait discs are released on Naxos, New World, Mode, and Bridge Records. A solo album of his orchestral music will be released by BMOP/sound in 2018. He edited and co-edited four books and editions, and published more than twenty articles.

Lei Liang studied composition with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Robert Cogan, Chaya Czernowin and Mario Davidovsky, and received degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music (B.M. and M.M.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.). He is Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego where he served as chair of the composition area and as Acting Chair of the Music Department. His catalogue of more than seventy works is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York). More at:

Matt Donovan - Librettist

Matt Donovan is the author of the collection of essays A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape: Meditations on Ruin and Redemption (Trinity University Press 2016) as well as two collections of poetry – Vellum (Mariner 2007) and Rapture & the Big Bam (Tupelo Press 2017). His nonfiction has been selected as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2013, and his work has appeared in journals such as AGNI, The Believer, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Seneca Review, Threepenny Review, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Donovan is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Rome Prize in Literature, a Pushcart Prize, a Creative Capital Grant, and an NEA Fellowship in Literature. He lives in Massachusetts, where he serves as the Director of the Poetry Center at Smith College.

Ligia Bouton  - Production Designer

Ligia Bouton was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and spent her childhood in London, England. She received her education at Vassar College and at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  Her creative work combines sculpture and drawing with performance, digital video, and photography to recreate appropriated narratives. Recent sculptural projects have been shown at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Guildhall Art Gallery in London, Minneapolis Institute of Art, SITE Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, Bellevue Arts Museum, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.  In 2016, Bouton’s work was featured in the exhibition, “Charlotte Great and Small,” celebrating the bicentenary of Charlotte Brontë’s birth at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Yorkshire, England. Her most recent project We All Fall Down was shown at Station Independent Project in New York, NY in July 2017.  Bouton’s video work has been shown at Art Claims Impulse in Berlin, in the Biennial of Contemporary Art, Nimes, France, and at the Temporary Art Center, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, as well as in The Female Avant Garde Festival in Prague.  Reviews of this work have appeared in Art in America, Art Papers, The Art Newspaper, Art Ltd., and The New York Times.

Bouton is currently Associate Professor of Studio Art at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts.

Susan Narucki  - Producer/ Sarah

For over three decades, American soprano Susan Narucki has forged a unique path; her interest in the music of our time led to award winning recordings, critically acclaimed performances with musicians of the first rank and close collaborations with generations of composers with distinctive artistic viewpoints.  Since joining the faculty at the University of California at San Diego in 2008, she has been deeply engaged in commissioning, producing and performing chamber operas that illuminate critical issues in society. Her projects have earned major philanthropic support from the MAP Fund /Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, UC MEXUS, Creative Capital Foundation, New Music USA and multiple awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ms. Narucki serves as Artistic Director for Cuatro Corridos (2013), the critically acclaimed chamber opera that addresses trafficking of women across the U.S.- Mexico border.  With libretto by internationally renowned Mexican author Jorge Volpi, and music by Hebert Vazquez, Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang and Hilda Paredes, the opera has been performed over a dozen times in the United States and Mexico and has been broadcast multiple times on Canal 22, Mexico's art and culture television network.  The recording of Cuatro Corridos on Bridge Records earned a 2017 Latin Grammy Nomination and was a Critic's Choice of both Opera News and Gramophone.   Ms. Narucki's most recent production is Inheritance, a chamber opera that addresses gun violence in America.  

A dedicated mentor to the next generation of singers, Ms. Narucki's recent residencies include the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, the Aichi University of the Arts, the Longy School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory.  At UC San Diego, she directs the vocal ensemble kallisti.

Cara Consilvio - Stage Director

In the 2018-2019 season, Cara Consilvio will direct Suor Angelica for Tri-Cities Opera, An American Dream for Anchorage Opera, The Elixir of Love for Piedmont Opera and The Threepenny Opera for Syracuse Opera. Recent directing projects include Hydrogen Jukebox for Chautauqua Opera, Glory Denied and Hansel and Gretel for Tri-Cities Opera, Street Scene, After Life and Dialogues of the Carmelites for Loyola University New Orleans and The Merry Widow for The Hartt School.  Cara has directed educational outreach shows at Tri-Cities Opera, Tulsa Opera, Opera Saratoga and Chautauqua Opera. Cara has been an Assistant Director for Fort Worth Opera, Opera Saratoga, Chautauqua Opera, American Opera Projects, Portland Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and Central City Opera. Teaching credentials include an adjunct lecturer position at the Boston University Opera Institute in 2014-2015. Cara is a co-founder of Hup! Productions. Her film directing projects include her narrative film short film C.I.T., and short documentary videos for OPERA America and the American Composer’s Orchestra. She has produced the NEA Opera Honors video tributes, NEA Jazz Masters videos, and the OPERA America New Works Forum videos as well as narrative films, including the award-winning Bowes Academy and an upcoming feature film entitled Camp Wedding.

Steven Schick - Music Director

Percussionist, conductor, and author, Steven Schick (Music Director) was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family.  For forty years he has championed contemporary music by commissioning or premiering more than one hundred-fifty new works. He was the founding percussionist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars (1992-2002) and served as Artistic Director of the Centre International de Percussion de Genève (2000-2005). Schick is founder and Artistic Director of the percussion group, red fish blue fish.

Steven Schick serves as Music Director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus; he has held numerous leadership positions including Artistic Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, music director of the 2015 Ojai Festival and, along with flutist Claire Chase, serves co-director of the Banff Centre for the Arts Summer Music Program.  He maintains a lively schedule of guest conducting including appearances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble and the International Contemporary Ensemble.  Among his acclaimed publications are a book, “The Percussionist’s Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams,” and numerous recordings of contemporary percussion music including a 3 CD set of the complete percussion music of Iannis Xenakis (Mode).  Steven Schick is Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Reed Family Presidential Chair at the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego.

Kirsten Ashley Wiest  - Ghost 1

Award-winning coloratura soprano Kirsten Ashley Wiest's “bright, dazzling vocal technique” (San Diego Story) has captured the attention of composers worldwide, resulting in numerous world premiere performances. She has sung as a soloist with the GRAMMY-winning Partch ensemble, La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, YMF Debut Orchestra, MiraCosta Symphony, HEAR NOW Festival of New Music, the Industry experimental opera company, and wild Up new music collective, among many others, and has performed at venues including Walt Disney Concert Hall, REDCAT, Copley Symphony Hall, and Aratani Japan America Theater. She has given solo recitals on concert series' hosted by Harvey Mudd College, Chapman University, and Tuesdays @ MONK Space, was a featured soloist in the LA Philharmonic’s installation, Nimbus, and has recorded for several interactive operatic experiences and film scores. Operatic roles include "La Princess" in Ravel's L'enfant et les sortileges (Perigueux, France), "Polly Peachum" in Weill's Threepenny Opera (San Diego CA), and "Mabel" in Gilbert and Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance (Fort Worth, TX).

A DMA candidate at UCSD under the guidance of GRAMMY-winning soprano Susan Narucki, Kirsten holds an MFA from California Institute of the Arts and a BM cum laude from Chapman University’s Conservatory of Music.

Hillary Jean Young  - Ghost 2

Canadian soprano Hillary Jean Young is happiest when they are making music amongst friends. Hillary’s eclectic creative practice involves a diverse range of projects, including traditional opera, contemporary chamber music, devised dance theatre work, experimental pop music, and more. Last year, Hillary and pianist Kyle Adam Blair’s performance of Poulenc’s La Voix Humaine was described as “creating something remarkable: an intertwined sensitivity that resulted in remarkable music-making” (UT San Diego). Hillary also recently toured around western Canada with their queercore performance art duo, “masc4masc”, with a final sold out homecoming show at Weird Hues in Chula Vista. Hillary has performed with numerous ensembles and orchestras, such as UCSD’s Palimpsest, kallisti chamber opera, red fish blue fish, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra. Hillary’s operatic experience includes roles such as the title role in Janáček’s Příhody lišky Bystroušky, La Modista in Rota’s Il cappello di paglia di Firenze, and Lisha in the premiere of Steve Lewis’ Noon at Dusk. In addition, their interpretation of Jenny in Weill’s The Threepenny Opera was hailed as “showing both the acidity and the humanity at the core of this work” (UT San Diego). From the studio of Nancy Hermiston, Hillary received their Masters of Music in Opera from the University of British Columbia in May, 2014. Hillary is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Contemporary Music Performance at the University of California, San Diego under the tutelage of Susan Narucki. More information at:

Josué Cerón  - Ghost 3/Tour Guide

Mexican baritone Josué Cerón graduated from the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, PA. From his performance of Respighi’s La Fiamma at the Kimmel Center, the Philadelphia Inquirer said, “...his articulation of the text gave such emotional life to the music that surfaces failed to matter...”. The quality and passion of his performances led to invitations to perform in three different continents. He made his European debut at Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova, as Enrico in Donizetti’s Il Campanello under the stage direction of legendary baritone Rolando Panerai. The 2017-2018 season saw him as Taddeo in Rossini’́s The Italian Girl in Algiers with Opera del Palacio de Bellas Artes in his native Mexico City. In previous seasons with the same company he has sung performances of L’Orfeo by Monteverdi (revised by Maderna) in the title role; the Latin American premiere of Il Viaggio a Reims; the Requiem mass by Tigran Mansurian; among other titles. He has been a  member of the Rossini Opera Academy in Lunenburg,Canada under the guidance of Maestro Alberto Zedda and was a finalist at the international competition of Teatro Colón de Buenos Aires, before judges such as Kiri Te-Kanawa, Sherill Milnes, and Sumi-Jo. Mr. Cerón made his professional operatic debut in Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City as “Sulpice” in Donizetti ́s La Fille Du Regiment in 2004. He holds a Bachelor degree from the National Conservatory of Mexico.

Mary Ellen Stebbins  - Lighting Design

Mary Ellen  is a theatrical lighting designer based in New York City.  She returns to UCSD Department of Music after having designed Lear On The 2nd Floor in 2013.  Recent credits include Black Inscription (Prototype Festival), War Stories (Opera Philadelphia), Olagon (eighth blackbird), Orpheus Unsung (Guthrie Theater, Princeton University), Quixote (Peak  Performances at Montclair State), THIS with Adrienne Truscott (New York  Live Arts). Other collaborators include Princeton University, Performance Space 122, Pipeline Theatre, Banana Bag and Bodice, Ars  Nova, Manhattan School of Music, Gotham Chamber Opera, Monica Bill Barnes, Columbia Stages, The New School, New Repertory Theatre, Bristol  Valley Theater. Resident: HOWL ensemble, Third Space. 2016 Henry Hewes Award nominee. 2014 Live Design Young Designer to Watch, 2011 USITT  Barbizon Lighting Design Award, 2009 Hangar Theatre Lab Company Design Fellow. Member USA 829. MFA, Boston University; AB, Harvard College. Upcoming: Savior (Chicago Symphony Orchestra MusicNOW), Dinner with Georgette (New York Theater Workshop Next Door Series)


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